PARIS, France — Travel is a theme particularly favoured by designers this season. It makes sense, conceptually: we live in a state of constant flux, physically, visually and mentally. It makes sense also on another level: travel can be a good way of giving meaning to the haphazard mix of different, even disparate references, designers favour today. To put it clearly: more than an inspiration, travel is a useful container.
Junichi Abe, the quiet mastermind behind Kolor, has always relied on an extensive roster of references, which he manages to blend in a subdued style full of little nuances. This season the "around the world in an outfit," attitude was more evident — and at times more literal — than it was in the past. "Kolor is colour — Abe said backstage, matter of factly — I wanted to add an Asian flavour."
View CollectionHence the smattering of gold sequins and intricate patterns on sandals and tops, the bursts of bright pinks on jackets and shorts. Madras, on the other end, kept the Indian vibe alive, and stripey knits had a not easily definable but unmistakable ethnic zest. All of this was interspersed with Kolor's trademark mix of soft tailoring, loose volumes and technical details. Overall, this was a focused outing, but the show lacked a dash of lightness: many outfits looked heavy, in spite of airy mood.
A designer who has lightened up a lot of late is Haider Ackermann. The man he has in mind is still a dishevelled, wonderfully decadent, self-centred contemporary dandy — you imagine the Ackermanm hero meandering inside a brutalized lavish mansion, or into the courtyard of the Musee Galliera, which so magically framed the show yesterday. Yet, the stiff brocades, the architectural constructions and lustrous colours so typically Ackermann have been replaced by ease, fluidity and, dare we say, even a certain cheerfulness. The collection struck a chord with a bright dash of pink and mint green and with a general air of poetic abandon. Tailoring looked fluid, nonchalant and sophisticated, in a poet maudit kind of way, and it was a blast.
View CollectionFluidity was also the byword at Issey Miyake, in a surprisingly good collection that functioned as a reset of sorts, a blank slate or better still, a journey from a white page, as the press notes stated. It was, indeed: a supremely pure succession of roomy, essential shapes with the slightest, almost imperceptible Indian flavour to them.
View CollectionAfter a few uncertain seasons, menswear creative director Yusuke Takahashi, probably prompted by the exhaustive Miyake retrospective held at The National Arts Center, Tokyo, went back to Miyake-san's seminal work at the beginning of his career, working with forms that are both abstract and practical, choosing materials with a tactile, natural hand that recall Japanese traditions, playing with proportions that ultimately free the movement, hence the person who wears the clothes. If the label carries on in this direction, good things might happen: Miyake's own brand of poetic pragmatism is urgently needed in the contemporary fashion wasteland.
View CollectionJulien David's journey within a sub-tropical Japanese summer — part jungle, part concrete jungle — included both men and women on the catwalk as part of the creative vision. It worked well, delivering the message: strong designs that are user-friendly in their adaptability but also quite bold visually. The best pieces were the punky t-shirts with chest straps and the giant check coats, but, overall, the collection looked a bit chaotic, like too many things were thrown into the mix. The heavy "urban" styling certainly did not help. David has a point of view, which sits at the crossing of French chic and Japanese experimentalism. He now needs better editing, and a cut on show tricks.
View CollectionAttending a Yohji Yamamoto show is an exercise in reiteration. The Japanese master has long perfected his deconstructionist take on tailoring, each new show being the nth instalment of shapes and cuts that basically never change but basically nor need chase to charm. Because, you know, the older Yohji gets, the more he charms: there were funny slogans and even a couple of Yohji portraits painted on the back of fluid dusters which topped roomy jackets and cropped pants. It gave everything an ironic, cheerful twist. Strong nods to japanese workwear and looks that suggested a street gangster thing gave a punchy vibe to the proceedings, which made for a solid outing.