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Punchy, Progressive Positivity at Paris Fashion Week AW21

Sat 6 Mar

Paris Fashion Week thus far has been a beacon of progression and liberation. As if shedding skin, the trauma of the past 12 months is fading from fashion. Much like Milan, designers at Paris Fashion Week are catering to optimistic future plans with glamour and luxury, but with forward-thinking, future-proof presentations and formats too. There’s been a power to the collections this week, a sense of newness and a force of positive change that sparks hope.

”Palpable energy has been at play in Paris. Shows no longer feel forced or contrived or indeed the only option.”

Marine Serre, usually presenting a riff on apocalyptic fashion and dystopian dress, instead turned to muses, tribes and families for her heart-warming fashion film. Serre’s impressive regeneration series is awe-inspiring most seasons, but the spliced up-cycled t-shirts and leather patchworks this time were incredibly encouraging and spectacular. Sumptuously sustainable even. Ester Manas also captured our hearts with a film that beautifully celebrated women in all their forms. Manas’ commendable one-size pieces, from ruched dresses to floral print skirts, are designed for all to enjoy, and witnessing them on such empowering women was a delight. Dries van Noten also pulled us in with an animated film. Models thrashed and danced to the beat of a metronome, with tactile fluffy vests, jewel-toned tailoring and glorious silver fringing luring us in. It was a tantalisingly tactile collection. Oh, to be dancing in Dries!

Marine Serre AW21

While Serre and Van Noten brought positivity (both aesthetic and presentation),  Ottolinger and Rick Owens channelled power and strength. Ottolinger was one of the best of the week; their avant-garde and anti-commercial collection - globular accessories, layered textures and those gargantuan padded boots - was a punchy equilibrium of femininity and ‘don’t f*ck with me’ attitude. Likewise, Rick Owens showed us dystopian heroines with this season’s dramatic capes, trains and shoulders. It felt aggressive but opulent, as if each model was emerging from a great battle victory. Perhaps what we should be wearing when we emerge from this battle of our own.

Ottolinger AW21

While there was a new vitality amongst those brands, Gabriella Hearst’s debut collection for Chloe felt less refreshing than expected. There were noteworthy silhouettes, but the collection’s overall feel seemed a little dated. Chloe has house codes to adhere to, of course, but in times like these,  traditional needs to work in tandem with modern to spark joy. Hermes’ collection was a great example of this. Introduced with another dance performance, the collection was seductively succinct whilst catering to a breadth of clientele.

Loewe AW21

Thinking out the box even further,  were rule-breakers Loewe and Coperni. Loewe had done away with the fashion presentation entirely, instead offering a time-capsule of 19 looks that saw Freja Beha Erichsen captured in the most sublime sculptural pieces., intoxicatingly sophisticated. The Coperni duo, Sebastien Meyer and Arnauld Vaillant, had done the exact reverse, so desperate to present a physical show, they staged a drive-in, with models walking between vehicles, flashing their embroidered sheer dresses, rhinestone Swipe bags and zippable shoes.

Coperni AW21

Palpable energy has been at play in Paris. Shows no longer feel forced or contrived or indeed the only option. Innovation has seeped through in fabrication, performance and presentation; there’s a sense of anticipation for the future, as uncertain as it may be.