As the Fashion Week buzz and all it’s pomp drew to an end, it’s safe to say this year’s installation was an unusual one. Amidst the worldwide unrest, the shows broke away from the conventional gloss and editorial dream-land, and brought realness into mix. Designers toned down on the avant-garde and reflected everyday casualness and without a doubt, Paris Fashion Week headlined in bringing this change. The Spring/Summer 2018 shows also embraced diversity and equal representation, bringing to light the many faces of fashion.
“Streets is my artery…the vein of my existence” – Jay Z (4:44/Marcy Me)
Demna Gasvalia, creative director of Balenciaga used the serene Bois de Bolougne Park to express candid family moments. The show, hailed as “dad’s on their day on their off” embraced the unity of the family dynamic. Fathers with their real children in tow, walked the runway in ironic 90’s-inspired menswear. Bespoke retail and tote bags were in sight…paying homage to the hyped Ikea trend. Track jackets, scenic greenery and bike props topped it all off uncannily similar Jeremy Corbyn’s aesthetic. (word has it Balenciaga’s consultants actually took notes from the Labour leader’s style).
On show were outfits fitting for Jason Statham in the Transporter, and market-stall dragon shirts from a Quentin Tarantino movie. From high-waisted dad jeans, leather jackets and oversized blazers, the day-to-day commuter was a running theme this year, especially for Balenciaga. Perhaps, there really is method to our Monday madness, and inspiration can be found at rush hour.
However, Twitter and Instagram admired the representation of a beautiful black family most. A young black girl with an adorable glare, no older than 4, grasped onto her brother in her bespoke red Balenciaga runners. All of the same rich hue, equally uniformed in head-to-toe Balenciaga – a testament to how fashion is starting to regard age and race. It is underestimated what difference it makes for the average young black man or woman to identify with aspirational luxury. T-shirts at the show were emblazoned with the words “the power of dreams”…. a fitting description.
Kenzo also stayed true to their deep-rooted appreciation of culture and story-telling at PFW. Humberto Leon and Carol Lim made sure to embed East Asian culture – from the design to the all-asian cast. The brand stays ahead when it comes to all-inclusiveness, never settling with the status quo…or quota. This was a perfect steer away from fashion weeks continual cultural appropriation. Commes Des Garcon’s Rei Kawakubo being honoured at Met Gala alone wasn’t enough appreciation for Asia’s impact on fashion.
An increase in Black designers also featured in this Fashion Week, from veteran rising star Virgil Abloh and Off-White, to ASAP Bari’s VLONE. At Pitti Uomo 92, Virgil unveiled his men’s spring/summer 2018 collection, unashamedly embracing topics from border conflicts, Syrian warfare to political unrest. There was a recurring incorporation of bright orange and strapping, with life vest undertones. These pops off color were set against mundane tones and simple tailoring, true to Pitti Uomo simplicity. Even invites were handed on an orange t-shirt, reading “I’ll never forgive the sea”. Teaming up with artist and activist Jenny Holzer to create light projections– the show was a moving acknowledgment of many risking their lives to flee warfare and turmoil.
This year even gave room for controversial political protest. D&G SS18 show employed the next generation of superstars, youtubers, creatives and content creators. From Diddy’s son Christian, Snoop’s son Cordell to Rev Run’s son Diggy – it was an ode to youngsters next in line for success. With a royally themed uprising or march, where all models walked with pomp on the runway clustered together, crowns, shiny tailored suits, embellished dresses and gowns/evening wear were spotlighted under Mediterranean candelabras.
However, the debauchery and decadence of the concept, seemed too ironic for some. In the words of Jay-Z, fashion’s political “shift feels like a spoof”. Raury, a young rapper and model fled the runway early – he felt as though it was all too mocking of a real protest. Rightly so. Raury is a resident of Stone Mountain, Georgia – the birthplace of the Klu Klux Klan. He found nothing funny about their tongue-in-cheek “boycott D&G” tees in response to their decision to dress Melania Trump.
All in all this year represented not only diversity, but the uncertainty of reality. Could this be an end to rigid restrictions and commandments of the fashion industry?