Wednesday morning I stopped by the Visvim showroom, where Hiroki Nakamura presented his new collection. And while his esthetic couldn’t be further from that of Boris Bidjan Saberi, Nakamura’s philosophy hews close. It’s all about making the best clothes possible with the techniques available. Unlike Saberi, who hunkers down in his atelier in Barcelona, Nakamura travels the world looking for the best traditional artisanal makers. Again, these clothes need to be examined up close to truly appreciate what goes into them. Nakamura is his best PR person (and, needs to be noted, his own best model) in a sense that he does not need PR – all you have to do is to see how his eyes light up when he tells you that the canvas for the sneakers was developed by an Italian company that has the last 18th Century German handloom that allows the canvas to have a certain type of grain you can scarcely get elsewhere, rough and refined at the same time. There were also fantastic object-dyed nylon parkas and hand-painted t-shirt, kimonos done in European suiting fabrics, and denim that felt bulletproof.
From Visvim I went to the Rick Owens show, in which the designer paid homage to his Mexican roots. It was an elegant middle finger to the Trump’s obsession with building the Southern border wall. Owens collaborated with the United Farm Workers association, whose founder Cesar Chavez became a hero of the worker movement by unionizing the disenfranchised, heavily Mexican farm workers in California in 1965. The t-shirts and sweatshirts with the UFW logo will be released on Owens’s website, with proceeds going to the union. Another part of the collection was based on the work of the sculptor Thomas Houseago, whose art has fascinated Owens for a while now. It was a lucky coincidence that Houseago is having an exhibit in the Museum of Modern Art here next to Palais De Tokyo, and one of his enormous sculptures was put in the courtyard as part of the exhibit. It couldn’t have been better planned if Owens wanted to. As for the silhouettes and details, Owens continued in the glam rock direction, and look after look it was brilliant, from the platform boots with plexiglass heels to laced pants and jumpsuits.
At Yohji Yamamoto later that day the clothes were brilliant as always. The fabrics flowed like water, the prints were lovely (except that one coat with a couple of sentences on the back in Russian – may I suggest, as a Russian native speaker, that you pull that coat out of production), the wide, elongated Yamamoto silhouette in full effect. But I would like to see Yamamoto try a different way of presenting, instead of stuffing as all in a small room and subjecting us to slow guitar strumming for fifteen minutes. I know it sounds like a first world problem, but honestly, I think Yamamoto’s men’s shows are a rare occasion where the presentation actually detracts from the beauty of the clothes.
I missed the Dries Van Noten show, which immediately followed that of Yamamoto, because of horrendous Parisian traffic, and so did a bunch of other editors. They couldn’t wait for us because that evening the entire fashion world had to pay homage to Lagerfeld at his memorial. It somehow seems fitting that Lagerfeld continues to hold sway over the fashion crowd even from his grave. I’d expect nothing less from him.
The next day we were bright and early at the Junya Watanabe show and an odd thing happened – even though Watanabe stuck to his reworked suiting and workwear formula, it felt uplifting and fresh. I think I know why – fashion on the one hand has become so overwrought with irony, and on the other hand with bullshit, that seeing great, light, deceptively uncomplicated clothes was a relief. Sometimes you just want to roll out of bed, put on something easy but great, grab a tote, and go grocery shopping without a care in the world. My reaction wasn’t a fluke or an illusion, as several other critics I spoke with have mentioned Watanabe’s collection in the same vein.
For the first time in ten years I was not invited to the Ann Demeulemeester show. I can only assume it’s because I have been critical of the brand as of late. I found such pettiness silly in 2019, where a critic can still write a review based on photos and videos readily available on the Internet (see Cathy Horyn v. Hedi Slimane). In any case, the nautical knot of a mess that Sebastian Meunier presented this time around is not even worth writing about. What is worth noting is that fashion hates criticism. You see, in fashion everything must be wonderful, until you go out of business. You can ignore constructive criticism, however harsh, that aims to point out where you need to improve, or you can die to rounds of applause – the choice is yours. But the hard truth is that, as another editor told me, Ann Demeulemeester is a cult brand that no longer connects with its cult. Oh, well, fashion is about change, and one must inevitably move on.
My last show of the day was Comme des Garçons. Sadly, with this collection Rei Kawakubo slid back to presenting men as children. She has a point – the number of male kidults these days is alarming. Still, I can’t help but wonder, wouldn’t it be a better idea to present clothes for grownups, the way she did in the last two stellar collections, and so instead of poking fun at contemporary culture to actually do something that stands against it? To be sure there were flashes of brilliance in the collection, simply because the technical skills of the Comme des Garçons pattern makers are awe-inspiring. I particularly loved a printed perfect-frock hybrid that undulated in the back. I just wished for more.