Face masks, cathedrals and loungewear: a Paris Fashion Week like no other

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  • Fashion month has almost come to a close, and if the new hybrid New York Fashion Week, London and Milan Fashion Week proved anything, it’s that even a pandemic cannot quell the creative spirit of fashion designers. Over in Paris, the spring/summer collections carry on being unveiled as planned, albeit with a few face coverings and tracksuits thrown in.

    Read on for the highlights from the shows, which .

    Louis Vuitton blurred the lines between genders

    For his SS21 offering (main picture), Nicolas Ghesquière said goodbye to outdated ideas on gender, to offer a fresh and modern take on what women and men want to wear now.

    He said, ‘We’re going beyond the basic idea that a woman gains power by co-opting the masculine wardrobe. What space is there for a category of clothing between feminine and masculine? It’s a growing space and its contours are ever more permeable. We’re defining a type of clothing that lives in a non-binary zone. It’s fascinating to consider. What is a non-binary garment? Inevitably, it’s the designer’s role to offer a point of view.’

    There were structured jackets and classic overcoats as well as oversized sweaters and large t-shirts that double up as dresses, clothes that facilitate movement.

    Chanel channeled film heroines

    As is her custom, Virginie Viard dipped into the house’s rich history for inspiration, specifically Chanel’s relationship with film stars.  She explained, ‘I was thinking about actresses at the photocall, on the red carpet, that moment when they’re being called to by the photographers: their faces a little distracted, their attitude a little out of sync with the outfits they’re wearing. And then there’s the fans waiting for them behind the barriers, this very lively side to cinema that happens beyond cinema, that’s what I like.’

    She added, ‘This collection is a tribute to the muses of the House. Some of them are far away, it’s been a long time since we saw them. Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld dressed so many actresses in films and in real life. I was thinking about them who make us dream so much. But without wanting to replicate. Without falling into a vintage citation. I wanted it to be very joyful, colourful, and very vibrant too.’

    We loved the classic tweed suits mixed in with the more modern pink capri pants and logo t-shirts, the glamorous dresses and the grungier jeans, as well as the playful layers and textures.

    Maria Grazia Chiuri built a cathedral

    PFW kicked off in grand style with the Dior spring-summer 2021 ready-to-wear show, with the designer creating a backdrop of stained glass windows in a Gothic style cathedral. For her new collection, Maria Grazia Chiuri took inspiration from the work of Lucia Marcucci (‘an emblematic figure of the Italian avant-garde who designed the show’s scenography).

    Her aesthetics of collage and visual poetry were apparent in the patchworks of paisley and floral motifs, punctuated with lace fragments, and jewel tones of lilac, orange and ochre. Fluid dresses mixed in with soft kimonos and wide leg trousers for a collection that is the comfortable and stylish wardrobe the post-pandemic woman wants to wear.

    Kenzo made hazmat suits look cool

    There were bound to be stylish takes on protective gear this season, and Kenzo did not disappoint. Models were sent down the (outdoor) runway in elevated beekeeping hats and veils that matched their colourful outfits and bold prints. Creative director Felipe Oliveira Baptista wanted to illustrate the relationship between human and nature, telling Vogue, ‘Bees are the regulators of the world. I find this idea very reassuring; both poetic and positive’.

    Cecilie Bahnsen created a wardrobe for the modern nomad

    Photo: Lana Ohrimenko

    ‘This season I had an image in my mind of a woman on a journey across a landscape – a symbolic wanderer,’ Cecilie said in her show notes. As such, her Spring Summer 2021 collection delivered the usual romance and moodiness we’ve come to expect, but with a twist.

    Old styles (the open-back dress) were updated with new details, while new shapes were introduced in the form of an off-the-shoulder balloon shape statement sleeve. Dresses were styled over transparent ribbed knitwear and masculine tailoring, to ease them into everyday wear: relaxed but feminine was the name of the game. We also loved the label’s use of recycled fabrics, such as cashmere knit and faille.

    The Frankie Shop nailed layering

    With us all focusing on wellbeing, The Frankie Shop focused on a winter collection we could wear now, and layer to our heart’s content for the ultimate cosy protection.

    Manu Atelier launched a new bag

    For their SS21 collection, sisters Beste and Merve wanted to create something positive to offset the difficult period we’ve all been having. ‘A good life is not a place where we arrive, it’s a lens through which we see and create our own world,’ they said.

    Fast forward to summer 2021, and the new it bag, the Pita, is all things retro and joyful, thanks to its Baguette style and discreet signature logo. Manu Atelier partnered with VHF digital to create their first video to introduce the bag, playing on the brand’s retro aesthetics.

    LOEWE did a show on the wall

    LOEWE presented the Spring Summer 2021 women’s collection as a Show-on-the-Wall, a set of different elements to be individually assembled by the recipient freezes the fashion content on a wall, in real size. It explored the possibilities of a paper show at a 1:1 scale, in the aim engage with new formats, fully embracing the excitement of change while actively involving the viewer in an experience that is radically different from the traditional fashion show.

    Keep scrolling for more favourite looks from the runway too.

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