Paris Fashion Week holds first shows of 2020

Gabriel Farhadian, Staff Writer

Last week, designer companies Louis Vuitton, Off-White, Sacai, Hermès, Comme Des Garçons, Dior Homme, and others came together in Paris to recreate the ethereal world of high fashion during the yearly Paris Fashion Week. Each company brought forth its spring and summer 2020 clothing lines in a series of walkway events geared at leading the industry in high concept “ready to wear” and one-of-a-kind, haute couture collections. 

The runway shows themselves were experiences that at many times projected the audience into an otherworldly future, where people wear dresses made of belts, and t-shirts that have a tuxedo coat dangling from the front. Designers like Jean Paul Gaultier suggest a world far past the present, where people wear long sleeved shirts with stripes like a sailor underneath a tucked-in top with a collar up past the ears and two feet across. At the ready to wear show for Raf Simons, the crowd watches models dressed in sleek black and silver suits and layers of thick fur coats carry liberally-decorated oversized hand warmers. 

Those who desired shoes to match the designed outfits were met with a rain of collaborations footwear as well. Virgil Abloh, creative director at Louis Vuitton, and founder of Off-White, released his long awaited Off-White x Air Jordan 5 shoe, marking it with his staple Helvetica font flanked by quotation marks. Valentino made the Valentino x Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 SD Sneaker, which maintained the well-loved silhouette of the classic Onitsuka Tiger, while featuring a blatant Valentino label across the side, tongue, and inside sole. Perhaps most interesting was the unlikely collaboration of Futura, Vibram, and GORE-TEX, who constructed a sneaker which has the stocky build of the Balenciaga Triple S line, yet appears to have the texture and patterns of a GORE-TEX windbreaker.

The Paris Fashion Week is one of four primary high-fashion showcases, along with London Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week. It is a white collar tradition that is coupled with famous musicians, actors, designers, and business people, and bathed with the champagne of after-parties and the trance of underground house music. It is a celebration of fabric decadence, but for those on the outside, it is the cold, bitter, hilarious jest of exclusion and superfluousness. This may just be an elaborate architecture of financial barriers, barring those who cannot buy the clothing from participating, but the designers would probably disagree. 

Raf Simmons had outfits wrapped in plastic, and Jean Paul Gaultier featured wearable wooden structures in his women’s haute couture runway, but in the same few days, Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior show was populated by golden dressed goddesses and exotic Cleopatrian makeup, and Schiaparelli’s golden jewelry ornaments that seem to be from a greek myth. Chiuri’s line was based on a question American artist Judy Chicago once asked: “What if women ruled the world?” So while these projects could be perceived as exclusive, expensive, and potentially materialistic, at some level, one must accept the fundamental vision of high fashion; these runway experiences curated by the staff of high-end fashion titans suggest an alternate reality. Its goal is to create an ethereal sense of entering a hypothetical population where people have normalized a new style, even one from a different planet or time period.