One may be quick to assume the inherent theatricality offered by Paris Fashion Week pertains to the exquisite venues. To a certain degree, this is true. But a far greater power stems from the fearless, exploratory nature of the designers showcasing within. At most of the New York Fashion Week shows we attended only a few weeks ago, a lot of what we saw was quite literally ready to wear on the streets after the models hung them back up. What we found in Paris carried greater eccentricity and more force—performative pieces that require personality from the wearer. And the materials and processes of the designers we saw (three of whom we explore further below) matched their uncommon cuts and occasionally boisterous silhouettes. Two of the three can still be considered newcomers, while the third demonstrated a reclamation of historic identity—only with abundant contemporary lightness. And all of them impressed wholeheartedly.
Whether or not one has ever seen iridescent foiled Napa leather—and regardless of whether or not one finds it aesthetically pleasing—the name alone declares that it will yield a statement piece. And that’s much of what one found at Marianna Rosati’s DROMe SS17 runway show. Rosati’s understanding of the material is second to none. And with that knowledge, she turned other leather materials—Abstract Gold Napa and super-fine two-colored Napa among them—into light, vibrant ready-to-wear that is, in fact, appropriate for spring and summer. This was further accomplished by her loose-fitting dresses and the choice to expose shoulders in dresses and jackets. Rosati states that she sought to defy gender roles with this collection, and also address the size and shape of women nowadays. In doing so, deconstructed garments allude to a very bright future. As for what came first, design or specific material iterations, she shares with CH, “The idea of the design is in my head—the idea of a woman and her way of dressing. This leads me to select the materials I imagine on this woman, which in-turn inspires the silhouettes, which come together based on the nature and characteristics of the materials.”
It’s not the fact that Aurélie Larrousse uses 100% technical silk in her SS17 collection for Beau Souci that appeals to us. It’s the serigraphy treatment applied to it—much like screen-printing, but here with a thoughtful chaos. Larrousse began using the treatment on a few pieces and then, as she explained to us, the process itself inspired a few more. It’s slick yet grand and there’s substance to its levity. Further, the Paris-based designer (though the brand as a whole calls LA its other home due to advisement by LA’s Just One Eye boutique owner Paola Russo) utilizes hand-embroidered PVC sequins—oftentimes on leather or the aforementioned silk—all done in Paris at the prestigious House of Hurel. Much like with DROMe, some of the Beau Souci pieces this season approach shoulders in an uncommon way: there’s an openness to the jackets that grants breathability and range of motion. Among the other articles’ materials, crushed Marabou feathers reflect the organic while an Elasthane-Polyamide blend represents macromolecule advancements.
Design house Paco Rabanne is not an emerging brand but an annual innovator. It’s an industry staple (with one of the most well-known fragrances on the market) and Rabanne himself pioneered the use of uncommon materials and futuristic design since his eponymous brand’s inception in 1966. And that was reclaimed by present-day head designer Julien Dossena with the SS17 ready-to-wear collection. From lace and crystal assemblages to plastic disc and chainmail skirts and tops, the collection saw archival-inspired wears and processes punctuated with modernity. It’s futuristic, but Dossena didn’t imagine these pieces would rest on shelves. Rather, they’re to be worn now (as evidenced by material advancements, that are much lighter than those which Rabanne himself used) as we move further toward an age requiring hoods, covered necks and a flowing, metallic second skin.
DROMe runway images courtesy of Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION, Beau Souci images courtesy of the brand, Paco Rabanne images courtesy of Yannis Vlamos