PARIS, France — Officially, it was his Spring/Summer 2019 collection that designer Esteban Cortazar showed in a regal Greek revival hall at the Université Paris Descartes, but one could be forgiven for thinking it was Resort. It was all there: the saturated sunset colours, the coastline-printed maillot, the oversize shirting and silky, fresh-from-the-suitcase creased robes hanging off the models’ shoulders. This was a collection designed with a seaside vacation in mind.
Backstage, Cortazar confirmed, saying that he and his team always come back from their summer holidays and exchange stories of the experiences they have had. “That moment that you’re reflecting on nature, you’re listing to music, you’re with your friends.” That was the feeling he wanted to convey.
This was a strong collection for Cortazar, not only because he achieved that goal but because the collection was simpler and more fluid than recent outings. To communicate the sense of ease, he, himself, seemed to take it easy, and that approach worked in his favour. The strongest pieces were those which took the sexiness and languor of a beach holiday but pushed things just a step or two further.
A burnt-orange one-shoulder dress with a draped sleeve and thigh-high slit worn with leather shorts was wonderful, as was a dégradé top coat in dusky, sherbet tones, plus another in the same palette but cropped high on the waist and with sleeves that curved forward. A slinky jersey dress in emerald green was a stunner as was a flowing long-sleeve floor-length one in pale yellow, fastened at the waist with an architectural belt. A black sleeveless jumpsuit and blush shirt-dress were bewitching in their simplicity. His models were all women of colour, and it didn’t feel like a gimmick — he said it just felt right, like channeling the friends who serve as his muses.
Deconstructed tailoring was a leitmotif, including the opening look of a half-constructed jacket-blouse and another blazer with exposed shoulders and down-to-the-ground shoulder sashes. Those pieces felt like a great beginning for a different collection, but didn’t quite gel here.
Cortazar could have also done without the knit pants and a logo top paired with bike shorts, even if those items reflect what are turning out to be trends of the season. The last two looks, a loose, bias-cut dress, and an oversize lightweight jacket over pants, all in white, were a strong finish. As the crowd exited the hall into a crisp autumn night, one couldn’t help but long for the endless summer Cortazar had so convincingly, and elegantly, conjured.