After the Invercargill-esque summer we were treated to in Milan, it’s nice to have arrived in Paris where the sun is shining, the temperature high and the hospitality a familiar combination of unhelpful and rude. To kick things off, it was a short train ride over to Bercy Stadium where Rick Owens was presenting his spring collection. Outside, ghostly fashionistas withered beneath the UV rays, but inside, darkness prevailed – low lighting, rows of black seats, and a predominance of moody, avant-garde dressers. I was seated with Zambesi Man’s Dayne Johnston and other buyers and media from the Asia-Pacific region. (We made up 100% of the Pacific contingent.) As the lights went out, an industrial, thumping noise began.
Rick Owens’ uniform for summer included a three-quarter length blazer, baggy shorts and knee-high black leather boots. This could be altered to include tight pants, a short-sleeve blazer with long-sleeve tee shirt, and boots with enormous leather spats. The colour palette was restrained – black, white, brown and the occasional clear plastic jacket or top. Not your typical summer wardrobe, but his fans weren’t complaining.
The most heat-appropriate pieces were the tee shirts in a sheer white cotton. One in particular was gathered towards the shoulder, resulting in a mini cascade of fabric that rippled down the model’s torsos as he walked. But it was his theatric flair that got me. From the lighting rig, about eight dry-ice machines shot out smoke like jet stream from a 747. The noise was incredible and the effect frightening. You never knew when one was going to spray, and the models did remarkably well not to flinch as they were hit. It made for a hell of a show.
Over at Juun J, the outside heat was magnified through windows in the ceiling of the Marais gallery in which we sat. It must have been upwards of 40 degrees in there. Not ideal for a mid-summer show, especially when you’re showing anoraks on the catwalk. The whole collection suggested protection from the elements – scarcely a piece went by without some form of buckle, belt, zipper or cord added to pull or contort the pieces. Take away a couple of those add-ons and the outfits were workable. The styling actually disguised some of the better looks – a linen blazer with a storm flap, a biker jacket. Those anoraks were a winner – their pointed back vents gave a great rear-end silhouette, but the bigger picture was a little overworked. The finale featured nylon tee shirts and tights – better reserved for the ballet stage than the street.
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