PARIS, France — Every once in a while, a designer comes along with the rare ability to convey the raw energy of iconoclasm while staying true to classic roots — catching whiffs of the underground and turning them into a brutal yet utterly refined aesthetic codes. Martin Margiela was one. Almost 30 years later, Demna Gvasalia, the wunderkind behind Vetements, is his legitimate heir. They both know how to break the rules because they master them perfectly. Their work, while highly innovative, appeals to a real audience — not just fashionistas — because it is designed according to radical, democratic principles. Vetements, however, has a uniquely raw element. It is as primal as primal can be. It belongs to the street.
Set in the kitschy ambiance of a restaurant in Paris' Chinatown, with a wonderful cast of stray cats and weirdos, today's show was a reaffirmation of the classic Vetements tropes, only louder. There was the oversized mannish tailoring and the floral dresses, the reworked workwear and the oversized sweatshirts, the glitter and the sturdy leather. And this time around, the offering was visibly wider and more mature, with a stronger emphasis on genderless-ness. But at the core, what Gvasalia delivers are classic, timeless items, with their proportions completely rethought, which is a winning strategy because it erases every gimmick while maximising impact.
The only danger right now for Vetements is too speedy a rise to success — the show was packed with all the right people. Being such a rarity, one hopes Gvasalia stays underground for a little longer, otherwise he may be swallowed by the system.