Two Styles reporters look again on the style season that was. Spoiler: It was weirder than regular.
Jessica Testa: We have to start with the sneakers, proper?
Elizabeth Paton: I imply, it was the strangest ever season for catwalk exhibits. Why are we even stunned that it was the strangest season of footwear, too. Your favourite, Jess?
JT: I believe the primary bizarre sneakers to catch my eye had been in the Molly Goddard Ugg collaboration. Which you noticed in particular person in London.
EP: By catch your eye, you imply covet and need to purchase? Don’t be shy to say so.
JT: Yes. Well. No. Mixed emotions about truly shopping for them.
EP: Bad in rain was my view. Apparently it rained each day in Paris (the place we weren’t, due to the pandemic). Instead, we made up the digital entrance (second and third) row as a lot of the regular style week attendees tuned in from house.
JT: Yes, and we’re nonetheless working from house for the foreseeable future, which makes shopping for showy sneakers really feel a bit of pointless. At the identical time, a bizarre shoe can spark pleasure in this joyless time! You’re hunched over a pc 24/7, however you then look down and also you’re sporting mules that appear to be comprised of Elmo’s pores and skin.
EP Do you assume that the large gross sales spike in Crocs is as a result of they spark pleasure in folks? (I perceive why they exist in hospitals and kitchens, however aesthetically I proceed to hate Crocs). I appreciated the Hermès standing clogs. Delicious. I used to be pleasantly baffled by the sexy reptilian sneakers from Matthew Williams’s Givenchy debut. Fully alarmed by the metallic clamp-ons at Paco Rabanne, making the wearer look imprisoned but airborne at similar time.
JT: I believe for the style crowd, Crocs are extra of a novelty merchandise — so sure, joy-sparking, or at the least Instagram like-sparking. But talking of foot imprisonment: the three-toe high-heeled sandals at Givenchy!
EP: Move over, Margiela Tabis.
JT: I simply respect the audacity. Even if I reflexively cringe when imagining placing them on.
EP: Toe cleavage and ugly sneakers have lengthy been a favourite style fetish. A brand new pattern this season, although, was beekeeper outfits. The complete hog at Kenzo. Vibes at Thom Browne and Marine Serre. It’s a glance that’s actually making a buzz (sorry).
JT: Forgiven. Would you put on a beekeeper veil, Lizzie?
EP: Yes. Perhaps on a bee farm, or for different bucolic countryside actions. But not at style week, or anyplace else. Certainly not in my front room, the place I presently spend 92 % of my time. Though the meant symbolism wasn’t misplaced on me.
JT: They do have a PPE vibe. (Minus the second P. I don’t assume they’re notably secure.)
EP: Agree! Big, cocooning, protecting sartorial spheres had been obtainable from the likes of Loewe and Simone Rocha, too. And quite a lot of saggy pants and balloon sleeves and comfortable hoodies. Our colleague Guy Trebay has written beautifully on how lockdown life has hastened the gender-blurring underway in fashion.
Though for me there were lots of nods there, too, to the growing informality of our lifestyles and the fact that we have nothing to dress up for right now. Very little tailoring to speak of, besides a few big, bold shoulders that would take someone’s eye out (I’m looking at you Olivier Rousteing! And at you Nicolas Ghesquière!)
JT: At the same time, there were a fair number of vests layered under blazers — we’re simply not giving up on suiting — and harnesses layered over dresses. Thebe Magugu and Rokh used them to turn pretty dresses into something tougher and more postapocalyptic. (I loved them.) But obviously oversize and relaxed silhouettes resonate more in this particular moment.
EP: Shall I tell you what was also apparently resonating but didn’t really resonate with me. Crop tops. So many crop tops — at Miu Miu, Versace, Dior and Chanel, to name but a few. Skin is in, apparently.
JT: Yes, and I lean more toward the white Balenciaga “Paris Fashion Week” sweatsuit for spring.
EP: On the subject of Balenciaga, I feel as if Demna Gvasalia, who gave us the most apocalyptic show experience last season, was a lot more optimistic in his offering this season. It was still a bit sinister, obviously, with models stomping around in the dark in the City of Light to a remix of Corey Hart’s 1984 hit, “Sunglasses At Night.”
But there was an upbeat allure and couture-tinged glamour to his pandemic-proof loungewear. I loved it. I was distracted from my rainy new homebound status quo. But it didn’t feel escapist either. Those gaiters will definitely sell.
JT I would say much of this season’s collections came across as light and bright, and not just because they’re meant for next spring. If designers were feeling as gloomy and claustrophobic as the rest of us, they didn’t tap into that depression. Maybe their tendency toward joy and fantasy was less about giving consumers an escape and more about giving themselves one.
EP: Something we both noticed was a near universal absence of masks from collections. The fashion search engine Tagwalk reported that the keyword with the biggest percentage of search increases since the spring-summer 2020 collections was masks — up 17,004.5 percent.
OK, the likes of Rick Owens and Marine Serre offered up masks and chiffon balaclavas, but dressing for a dystopian hellscape has been their schtick for a long time. Did you think there would be more of a direct response from designers to the times we are living in, Jess? Doesn’t fashion need to opt into reality if it is to stay relevant?
JT: I was hoping for more masks. Practically, they are the only accessory that matters right now. I get that some designers may have been wary of putting masks on the runway. A few luxury brands were criticized early in the pandemic for selling expensive masks. But since then, masks have been much more integrated into our lives and wardrobes. This is a chance to respond to the world we’re living in, which is what fashion should do.
EP: I guess the collections this season felt far more celebratory than I expected. Far more business as usual.
JT: And should business be as usual? Some of the shows with audiences had their guests sitting pretty close to each other. Maybe not as close as usual — that is, elbow-to-elbow — but certainly not six feet apart. That seemed pretty tone-deaf to me, particularly as Covid-19 infections are rising again in France. But I do understand the impulse to forge ahead with the shows. We know that they employ a lot of people.
EP: There was a message to send about industry stability, for sure. And plenty of distracting sparkles and sequins, on shoes and sheath dresses and coat trimmings and even head-to-toe tuxedos. Ultimately, heady escapism is what fashion is particularly good for and heaven knows we need some right now. I had a particular soft spot for the Schiaparelli face jewelry. Who among us doesn’t see the allure of 24-carat gold eye glasses with blocked-in lenses and precious stones where your eyes should be?
JT: Please don’t forget the gilded coaster-size earrings. See, those are very Zoom friendly. It’s relevant escapism!
This conversation has been edited for clarity.