This women’s season, tampered by debilitating cold, held few surprises. Designers by and large stuck to what they do, but they did it so well that those of us who prefer to dig deep were satisfied.
Feature and Op-Ed articles
My first showroom visit was to Boris Bidjan Saberi, where I got to examine closely those tubelike garments that he put on the runway two days prior.
Paris was its usual gray and cold, a kind of weather for which “discomforting” is the best word. They are still short on comfort in Paris, 21st Century be damned, and maybe there is a kind of purpose in that, lest we humans get too self-satisfied.
This year amidst the usual barrage of “news” about collaborations, must-cop listicles, and the importance of Dad sneakers, a few articles in the press aimed at fashion and streetwear actually tried to address something worthwhile, namely, what’s happening to today’s youth, specifically in the cultural space, and even more specifically as it relates to style.
Graduates of the prestigious Antwerp Academy fashion program, the Capara sisters have worked with Dries Van Noten, Martin Margiela, and Raf Simons, before launching their eponymous line out of Antwerp.
In the following Op-Ed we examine why fashion criticism will always matter.
This past summer Raf Simons held a show in New York City’s Chinatown that was ostensibly based on the movie Blade Runner. The presentation had plenty of Runner-esque elements; the darkness, the wetness were reflected in the umbrellas and the raincoats that Simons showed. But there was one element in the collection that made no sense at all – the New Order and Joy Division graphics that Simons used liberally throughout have nothing to do with Ridley Scott’s iconic sci-fi film, at least nothing I could discern. Simons showed the same graphics by Peter Saville, whom he is friends with, that he showed in his seminal Fall/Winter 2003 collection, “Closer, “ named after a Joy Divison album.
New York Fashion Week has become such a dispiriting spectacle of banality and celebrity entertainment that I did not go a single show. So, on to Paris, the home of real design, or, more accurately, a place where real design is shown.
This past June in Paris I was sitting in the lobby bar of the InterContinental hotel, catching up with a prominent boutique owner after the Haider Ackermann menswear show. She was in dour spirits. “How am I supposed to sell fashion when even people who go to shows don’t wear fashion?” she asked ruefully and rhetorically. She was referring to the way the continuing casualization of style has been taking a toll on designer fashion at large. She was right. Today, one can see fashion insiders sporting Adidas track pants or a Nike jacket worn by a so-called “fashion person,” as likely as say a Rick Owens leather or a Celine bag. Last season, Instagram feeds of street style photographers were flooded with images of fashion people in Thrasher magazine t-shirts. This time the trend seemed to pivot in a new direction, as time after time I spotted attendees in various band t-shirts – Hole, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, and so on.
Fashion is often shunned by the thinking types. It is considered frivolous, shallow, and materialistic. And so much of it is. But there is something in the word “materialistic” that is not all bad. At its root is something grounded, tangible, graspable. There is something to be said for ownership. In its truest, considered form there is something like strength of conviction in ownership, a passion of sorts, and a deep sense of appreciation. Collecting is the most passionate form of ownership, a pursuit that is not all that shallow if carefully examined. Ownership and collecting are loaded with history and experience, with memory of things past, with respect to those who have created what you own. There is no shame in ownership of garments, and there is no shame in relating to material things, be they clothes or otherwise. In our rental culture, from streaming services to Rent the Runway to constant reselling, the pride of ownership and a sense of care that true ownership implies is diminishing in favor of display. Everything is transient, exacerbated by social media, especially Instagram.