As the Paris menswear season ended and couture week opened, we checked out four widely differing fashion visions to tap into the style pulse among cognoscenti in the French fashion capital.
Olivier Saillard : Moda Povera V Les Vêtements de Renée
In the world of intellectual fashion, Olivier Saillard Moda Povera V Les Vêtements de Renée is about as insider and emotive as you can get.
The latest instalment of Saillard’s ongoing series of performance art fashion displays, number five was devoted to his mother, and the novel idea of emptying her wardrobe and recycling or upcycling it into clothes for today.
No doubt the location added to the sense of event. The truly oval Salon de la Princesse, one of the world’s greatest examples of Baroque architecture and decoration within the Archives Nationales. It’s a unique French institution whose archives date back to the seventh century, boasting everything from the will of Louis XIV and Napoleon to the Gazette of Marie Antoinette’s clothes.
Like Saillard’s other presentations this was deceptively simple, just one model – the supremely poised veteran Axelle Doué attired in black tights, body and high heels. Allowing Olivier to dress her in some 30 looks, each of them culled from his mum’s wardrobe, and transformed into elegant timeless pieces. A narrator detailing the composition of each look as Axelle donned them.
Opening with a mere bedsheet with Renée’s initials, artfully transformed into a draped tunic that could have passed muster in a Yohji Yamamoto show, and followed by a series of long stretch gowns, composed of her T-shirts – each look given its own name.
Before ending with a long dress in semi-sheer silver fabric, ideal for a fashionably tony cocktail.
“Renée was the mother of Dany, Jocelyne, Michel, Lucette, Sylvie and Olivier. She was a redhead, with a harmonious face like the beauty of the forties and a singular temperament. She was a cab driver and that was her freedom,” Saillard explained, before beginning Moda Povera V.
Getting undressed in public is never easy, but Doué has such natural grace she made it look effortless. While Saillard’s gentle attention – from picking off flecks of fluff and brushing her hair – made this a moment of grace.
“Precisely because these are modest and humble clothes, a form of aristocracy emerges from the care with which she treated them. Also, the wear and tear became an embroidery,” argued Saillard.
Staged four times on Tuesday before audiences of just 50 people, this was a beguiling expression of how much fashion means to Paris and Parisians.
Its finale greeted with over a minute of sustained applause, rising to a crescendo when Olivier embraced two elderly female relatives in the audience. They were in tears, like most of the guests.
AZ Factory: Drag queen style in St Germain
AZ Factory staged its latest activation on Monday night, choosing a chic drag-queen club in St Germain as the setting to unveil its linkup with a new young designer.
This season the choice was Tennessy Thoreson, an entirely unknown creator whose debut collection for AZ Factory was entitled Super Heroines. Which turned out to be 12 characters, mostly drag queens, performing on stage inside the Paradiso Club. A charming basement club in St Germain, swishly renovated by India Mahdavi. Douanier Rousseau style for the 21st century.
Though not listed on the official calendar of the Paris Haute Couture season, each look was hand-sewn by AZ Factory’s atelier in Paris.
The clothes varied from an abstract expressionist body stocking and matching boots or stark taught bodies wrapped in snakes of faux fur, to body-hugging denim cocktails for the show’s stripper and PVC cocktails intersected by shaggy trim.
A show where one act pierced both her cheeks with metal skewers upsetting some other veteran editors, but what is couture week without a little provocation.
Discovered at the Head Geneva 2021 by AZ Factory CEO Mauro Grimaldi, French-born Thoreson, a part time drag queen himself, is the latest youth linkup for this fledgling brand, launched by Alber Elbaz just before his untimely death from covid.
Taak: Impressionistic abstraction
Well, there is abstract impressionism and there is impressionistic abstraction, which was what Taak was all about this season.
Designer Takuya Morikawa’s starting point came from standing in front of a painting by Von Gogh, and then running with the sense of humanity it inspired in his thoughts.
The result was a bizarre yet cool blend of prints. From an abstract garden daub, as if Jasper Johns was transported to Giverny, seen on powder blue silk pyjamas, to a combo of draw string pants done in a blazing sunset, as if Von Gogh had dropped acid.
Ironically, his best looks were his most restrained, like a really natty gents top that began in waxy leather and morphed into fresh wool halfway down the torso. Inverted drip-dry cool. Or superb, roomy undertaker’s coats in anthracite jacquard.
Plus, he reinvented the most ubiquitous garment in today’s men’s wardrobe, the thin padded waistcoat by Uniqlo, as a drip dyed gents vest made in leather and woollen check. Otherwise, he dreamed up all sorts of clever classics, twisted by the use of hairy and shaggy fabrics, which had all the audience’s eyes twinkling, including Bruno Gouery of Emily in Paris, beaming with his newfound global fame.
“Each fabric has been designed with a strong commitment to self. All forged through the tribulations of doubt and elation. Please feast your eyes on this new collection,” concluded the designer. “We did Takuya, we did.”
Steven Passaro: Tailoring with Koenigs
One of the more interesting talents to emerge at fashion incubator Sphere this season is Steven Passaro.
The designer’s big idea was channeling the images of German photographer Caroline Koenigs into elegant jackets, rock gent redingotes, very cool shirts and knitted jacquard tops.
Passaro is a tidy tailor, who favors a broad shoulder for his busy young man suits. He finished
a deconstructed jacket with tulle plissé, which added a dramatic kick, as if wings had sprouted from the garment. While his ecru woollen pants with mock cummerbund meets corset was something elsewhere.
All told an arty couture sensibility by a designer who shows great promise.
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