Friday, October 28, 2022

Fashion Leaders on the Future of ‘Made in Italy’

Last week, hosts Shimona Mehta, Shopify’s managing director, EMEA, and Robin Mellery-Pratt, BoF senior director, brought together executives from Gucci, Valentino, Prada, Bulgari, Massimo Alba, Pitti Immagine, Brunello Cucinelli, CD Network, Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana and the Italian Trade Agency to discuss the key areas of consideration and innovation to protect the legacy of “Made in Italy”.

In addition to underpinning the brand positioning of a number of billion-dollar Italian brands, Italian manufacturing is a pillar of the luxury industry’s supply chain. According to McKinsey & Co., Italy contributes more than 40 percent of luxury goods production. In the context of the re-emergent popularity of Europe with international tourists, the “Made in Italy” industry is primed to respond to shifting customer sentiment and purchasing priorities.

However, to truly future-proof competitive advantage, Italian brands and manufacturers should consider streamlining manufacturing processes to be more responsive, and move to meet customers in the spaces and channels in which they are spending time.

With millions of merchants utilising its core platform to sell online, Shopify is expertly positioned to share insight on the importance of customer-centric strategies to generate sell-through and foster brand loyalty. “We are seeing the growth rates of traditional brick-and-mortar retail and direct-to-consumer converging again,” says Shopify’s Mehta.

“We believe this next wave of retail is what we call ‘connect to consumer’. Truly and deeply understanding your customers — using data to build long-term relationships — is going to be paramount,” she shared.

Held at the Fioraio Bianchi Caffè in Milan, the discussion was conducted under the Chatham House Rule, which precludes the attribution of statements made by specific individuals or companies, allowing attendees to share freely and openly with their peers.

Below, BoF shares condensed, anonymised insights from the intimate discussion to provide actionable insights for our global community.

Vertical Integration Is Impacting ‘Made in Italy’ Culture

“‘Made in Italy’ has historically had a lot to do with a certain mindset — one of loyalty, of responsible practise and small runs of product,” were some of the opening remarks made at the executive forum. “It was always primed to support small business — until now. The new reality is that the system is being monopolised by big business.”

We are facing a new ‘Made in Italy’, which has much to do with scale and power. The biggest players [...] become the priority and it is inherently changing the cultural meaning of our system.

Other attendees also noted the impact of the industry’s biggest players and conglomerates buying up Italian factories to dominate the “Made in Italy” market. “We are facing a new ‘Made in Italy’, which has much to do with scale and power,” said another guest. “The biggest players, who are working with huge volumes, become the priority and it is inherently changing the cultural meaning of our system.”

“Some brands are becoming less capable of producing in Italy, partly because of the downward pressure that comes from bigger brands who are dominating the space — and this can trickle down to retail,” said an attendee. “North America is a cautionary tale — you have a landscape where 70 to 80 percent of the market is dominated by big stores that cater to big patrons.”

Italian Factories Must Be Better Utilised

“We are losing a lot of opportunities in not [promoting] factories as just as important to the ‘Made in Italy’ narrative as hand-crafted goods,” said one guest, in relation to best-in-class manufacturing processes. “As a system, we need to pass on the message that these factories and automated work [are] excellent.”

“We often have feedback from major editors or fashion [critics] that our ready-to-wear collection looks like haute couture,” agreed another attendee. “We tell them it’s made by the greatest of Italian factories.”

Brands Must Reignite Interest in Becoming a Maker

The forum unanimously agreed that helping to drive renewed interest from young people in manufacturing in Italy would be critical in order to protect “Made in Italy” systems and processes.

“Nobody wants to be a maker anymore — everyone wants to open a brand, sell a brand and move on,” were one attendee’s initial remarks. “The future of the [industry] depends on us collectively embracing the beauty of making things.”

We are great at storytelling as an industry — we need to harness that to [reignite] interest for making things again.

“There has to be a way to foster renewed understanding that there is a way of marrying the art of manufacturing and the appeal of commerce and success in the fashion industry,” added one attendee.

“As brands and businesses — all of us — we must create campaigns that indicate why staying in a factory and producing product is sexy,” shared another executive. “We are great at storytelling as an industry — we need to harness that to [reignite] interest for making things again.”

Relinquish Creative Control to Connect ‘Made in Italy’ with Gen-Z

Forum attendees recognised the collective need to reject the traditional “top down” marketing approach of luxury brands when it comes to authentically connecting with Gen-Z customers.

“From our perspective, we approach the Gen-Z customer in an entirely different way to our communication with millennials,” said one guest. “Previously we would tightly hone our own narrative and image. When it comes to Gen-Z, it’s better to relinquish control to these creative consumers, and to leverage their narrative and their interpretation of our brand.”

“Historically, we have all focused on tight curation and control,” added another executive. “A lot of these new environments — TikTok, Discord, Snapchat — all involve relinquishing some control over to these communities. It’s challenging, but necessary for heritage brands to hand over your product to creators and creatives within these communities.”

The forum went on to discuss the need to litmus-test channels and platforms to get closer to their customer.

When it comes to Gen-Z, it’s better to relinquish control to these creative consumers, and to leverage their narrative.

“We are in the early stages of exploring Web3 — we are tiptoeing in — and we are learning so much about community,” said an attendee. “You see groups who are so active and passionate and they want to engage in fashion. They are expressing it in ways that you wouldn’t have expected before. It doesn’t work to go in with set expectations. You have to learn as we go along.”

Others, however, felt approaching with caution was more appropriate. “When it comes to platforms like TikTok, we need to study and understand a little more and not feel pressured to have an immediate presence,” said a guest. “When you are focusing on producing what’s right for, or in tune with, your brand… that’s better than just following the narrative. Be brave [enough] to say if something isn’t the right fit.”

“We very much have a ‘test-and-learn’ approach,” said another executive. “‘Made in Italy’ is one of our brand values, but others relate to creativity, community and inclusivity. So, we are going to [explore] initiatives that are authentically linked to those values.”

Leverage ‘Made in Italy’ as a Value Differentiator

The conversation turned to the ways in which the Internet had democratised access to product — and the impact that has on the cultural capital of different brands and businesses.

“Millions of people can now interact with every brand,” noted one executive. “Look at Supreme’s journey from [scarcity] to one of mass collaboration. We begin to see consumers — these important micro-communities — begin to care less about that brand.”

“In this democratised space where everyone has access to everything, you can argue that the pendulum is swinging back towards heritage and craft,” agreed another guest. “‘Made In Italy’ can become a real value differentiator.”

Internal Education Is a National Imperative

“As all our companies explore new [digital] frontiers, and as data becomes increasingly critical, we need institutions — high schools — to formalise education on these topics,” said one guest, as the forum posited the need for internal education to upskill its workforce.

“We don’t have the right education in this field,” agreed another attendee. “We need data and we need data analysts. And college is too late — we should be equipping school children to understand the metaverse, to be able to humanise data — these are qualities that are just as critical as craft and the Italian savoir faire.”

“There needs to be financial incentives too — we need to [socialise] the reality that a head tailor that learns the craft in Italy can make $120 - 150,000 US dollars a year,” added another guest. “We need to get young people to dream about these jobs again.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Rihanna's Savage X Fenty Show Is Back

Attention, this is not a drill – Rihanna's Savage X Fenty fashion show is back, premiering on Amazon's Prime Video worldwide on Nov. 9th.

Following its Emmy award-winning Vol. 3 runway, Rihanna's intimates brand is staging yet another runway-meets-spectacle featuring its latest styles, performances and, hopefully, tons of famous cameos.

Though we don't know much about the A-listers slated to appear in it, the trailblazing event is expected to outdo its previous editions, with Savage X Fenty describing it in a press release as "a seductive fashion fever dream" that "blends Emmy award-winning choreography, style and music with the hypnotic essence of nocturnal nature."

Rihanna – who serves as the executive producer and creative director for Vol. 4, of course – posted a video announcing the show on Friday, Oct. 14. "VOLUME 👏🏿 MF 👏🏿 FOUR 👏🏿," she wrote in the caption.

Adidas Terminates Its Relationship With Kanye West

Adidas has terminated its relationship with Kanye West, who now goes by Ye, after the rapper made a series of anti-semitic statements in an interview on Fox News and on social media. The sportswear giant was under growing pressure to cut ties with the Yeezy founder, whose incendiary comments have been condemned by high-profile figures. On 21 October, Kering confirmed that Balenciaga – for whom Ye walked the spring/summer 2023 runway just three weeks ago – “has no longer any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to this artist”. Ye parted ways with Gap in September.

“Adidas does not tolerate anti-semitism and any other sort of hate speech,” a statement on the brand’s website reads. “Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”  


The company is ending production of all Yeezy branded products, and will stop all payments to the rapper and his companies with immediate effect. Adidas estimates a “short-term negative impact of up to 250 million Euro (£217 million) on the company’s net income in 2022” as a result.

On 24 October, Ye’s ex-wife Kim Kardashian condemned hate speech in a tweet, calling for an end to “terrible violence and hateful rhetoric” directed at the Jewish community. Her tweet made no reference to her former spouse, whose increasingly erratic behaviour has frequently made headlines in recent months.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Kanye West Reportedly Plans To Build A Mini-City Called The “Yecosystem”

Following the news that Balenciaga has decided to part ways with Kanye West, it appears the rapper has already moved on to his next project. According to Rolling Stone, Ye has filed trademark applications for a series of enclosed mini-cities that he wants to call the “Yecosystem.”

The Yecosystem is described as “self-sustained enterprise that would have its own branded products and services,” per Rolling Stone.

The trademark applications detailed plans for not just one community, but several mini-cities located across the United States. Ye is aiming to launch the first city in the next year. Among the names Ye has filed to trademark are “Yzyverse,” “Yxyverse” and “Yeezyverse.”

“He comes from a good place,” a source told Rolling Stone about the Yecosystem. “It’s definitely his goal that everything that people touch that’s his is a good thing and has a good impact on the world.”

Sources confirmed to the publication that Ye has been working on the Yecosystem for years. Residents will live in branded homes and shop in branded retail stores, all located within the confines of the cities. It will also contain a production house, a school, nutrition and beauty stores and even its own news outlet, as well as healthcare and an education system.

Cara Delevigne For Pirelli Calendar

The 2023 Pirelli Calendar celebrates the muses who have inspired photographer Emma Summerton and, more broadly, the remarkable power, passion and talent of women. When Cara Delevingne was asked to describe in one word her photoshoot for Emma Summerton’s Love Letters to the Muse-themed Pirelli Calendar, she picked “magical”.

It’s an apt description of the stunning backdrop designed for the London-born model and actress, who was photographed striding towards the camera from a forest of giant dandelions, clad in a web-like black macramé outfit, sparkling headdress and high heels. In Summerton’s magical-realism infused Calendar, Delevingne embodies The Performer, an exuberant yetenigmatic star who keeps her audience rapt. Energetic and entertaining, Delevingne brought her muse to life with flair.

“She was The Performer and she gave us quite a wonderful performance,” said Summerton, who also took the photograph used in the backdrop, a close-up of dandelion heads, which she considers “a magical plant”. “I made her a dandelion forest because she is, like, a floaty sort of wild. You don’t know which way it’s going to go... she’s hard to grasp hold of. That’s what we love about her. It’s like this wildness, but delicate. A child-woman... She’s not like anybody else. She’s from a fairy garden... somewhere we’ve never been.”

“You don’t know which way it’s going to go... she’s hard to grasp hold of. That’s what we love about her.” Costume director Amanda Harlech said Delevingne’s outfit was about movement and designed to represent her “shape-shifter, chameleon-like nature”. The web-like costume clung to her torso and legs as she stepped through a large slash in the canvas.

For Delevingne, who is also a musician and a singer, shooting the Pirelli Calendar has long been a dream. She said of working with Summerton: “I love Emma, what she creates, her muses, her environment on set, everything about it. It just makes you feel so part of being the character. It was really wonderful.” She described the muse she interprets as “an enigma... a mystery. She’s captivating.”

Although portraying The Performer “came pretty naturally” to her, it also took time to get into “because it was definitely a different type of performer [to the one] I’m used to.I just love to make people laugh, so this felt a lot more like [it had] an intriguing mystery to it.”

Delevingne, who has been known for much of her career as the face of Burberry, got her big break in modelling aged 18 when she met Christopher Bailey, the label’s design director. He cast her in her first catwalk show at London Fashion Week in 2011. The following year she starred in an iconic advertising campaign for the brand alongside actor Eddie Redmayne.

Soon Delevingne was striding catwalks across the world. A favourite of Stella McCartney and Karl Lagerfeld, she has also modelled for Dior, Moschino, Louis Vuitton, Oscar de la Renta and Fendi. She was crowned Model of the Year at both the 2012 and 2014 British Fashion Awards.

Her acting career began with a small partin Joe Wright’s 2012 adaptation of Anna Karenina. She went on to play a lead role in teen drama Paper Towns (2015), appeared as the Enchantress in Suicide Squad (2016) and starred with Rihanna in Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017). More recently Delevingne appeared with Steve Martin and Selena Gomez in the television series Only Murders in the Building (2022).

Asked in which facet of her career she feels most herself – model, actress or singer – Delevingne said: “For me, all of them... it’sjust all under an umbrella. Music is very much me, though... because it’s not like a hat I put on, it’s just something that’s always there. There’s always a running theme tune in my head.” “Music is very much me... There’s always a running theme tune in my head”

The British artist, who recorded a song with Pharrell Williams in 2014 called I Feel Everything, said she expected to release more music in the future, but had no timetable. “That’s how I’ve always gone with music. It just happens when it happens. But it’s something I’ll do forever.”

Delevingne, who has spoken about her battles with depression while a teenager, said these days she feels much happier and more at peace. “Everything’s a bit more rounded... I feel just wonderful and dreamy.”

An ardent advocate for LGBTQ+ causes, Delevingne was recently among 12 stars featured in the British Vogue cover story Come Together: Meet the Faces of the LGBTQ+ Revolution – a celebration of 50 years of Pride. The model, who has described herself as pansexual, is also producing a documentary series with the BBC and Hulu called Planet Sex about “sexuality, identity and gender across the world”. “We’ve really only scratched the surface on this huge, massive world that is all these subjects, but it has been the best years of my life doing this project,” she said. “If I can inspire anyone just once, I am a happy person”

Asked if she considers herself an inspiration to others, she said: “If I can inspire anyone just once, I am a happy person, but I hope to live my life in a way that is honest and can help people. When I say I’m a performer, I do like to put on a performance, but I also like to be honest about struggles – to help people push through their own.”

Kanye West’s Biggest High Fashion Connection Has Cut Ties

After a tumultuous few weeks of Kanye West’s verbal attacks on everyone from a fashion editor to George Floyd to the Jewish community, Kering, corporate parent of fashion house Balenciaga, has severed all ties with the multihyphenate. “Balenciaga has no longer any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to this artist,” a representative from Kering said in a statement to WWD.

The relationship between West and Balenciaga dates back to 2015, when West recruited the brand’s creative director, Demna, for his Yeezy season 1 creative team and championed the then Vetements designer in an exclusive for Vanity Fair. In 2021, while amongst other celebrities including Bella Hadid, Salma Hayek, and Lil Baby, the musician sat with his entire face masked as the fashion house showcased its first haute couture collection in Paris since the company’s founder, Cristóbal Balenciaga, bid his farewell to the business over half a century ago.

Then came Yeezy x Gap. After launching the line with a series of bubble jackets, first in blue, then black, then red, West began exclusively wearing Balenciaga and raising eyebrows with a slew of face-covering masks. Toward the end of 2021, as the conversation around Kim Kardashian and West’s divorce swirled, he assumed the name Ye, and Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga was released at the beginning of 2022 with little warning. After two popular drops, West redesigned a Gap store in Times Square, which would serve as the first brick-and-mortar space for the line before Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga was unveiled in Gap stores across America. Last month West and Gap ended their contracted 10-year partnership just over two years in after West accused the company of breaching their agreement.

During a recent interview with Piers Morgan, West apologized for the “hurt and confusion” he caused with his antisemitic comments, citing his own trauma as the cause of his harmful language. But the apology came a little too late, as companies associated with the artist have already begun cutting ties—Adidas also recently placed its partnership with West “under review.” Kering’s statement comes just over a week after Candace Owens publicized through social media that the artist had received a letter from JPMorgan Chase—dated September 20—informing him that its banking relationship with his company would cease. West’s suspension from both Twitter and Instagram, for violating anti-hate-speech policies with his antisemitic commentary, was also announced early last week.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Could Rihanna’s Latest Savage X Fenty Show Feature New Music?

Rihanna might currently be mapping out her Super Bowl performance, but the bad gal has another major show in the works. Savage X Fenty Volume 4, her latest genre-defying lingerie presentation-cum-music video, will premiere on Prime Video on 9 November, which means three things: star guests, major choreo and sexy smalls for every body.

Rih broke the news herself via a mic-drop Insta moment showing the star writhing around in a Savage X Fenty lace body and some skimpy metallic briefs, which will surely send sales of silver thongs soaring. Her inclusive message (Volume 4 will be streamed in more than 240 countries and feature underwear, sleepwear and loungewear in sizes XS-4X/XS-XXXXL, with bra sizes up to 46DDD/42H) comes after a fashion show season that seemed to do a U-turn on the progressive casting promises it had previously made. Previous Savage X Fenty models have included Gigi Goode, Shea Couleé and Lizzo, and you can bet Rih’s inner circle has been working hard to secure a line-up that will speak to the millions watching.

With details scant so far, the message that sums up Rihanna’s latest chapter came via her collaborator Parris Goebel, who posted a trio of purple devil emojis. The dancer extraordinaire, who is almost certainly working on the singer’s major league football performance next year, summed up the naughty-but-nice mood at Rih HQ. They may be pulling up a seat for everyone at the table, but they are most certainly not going to compromise on sass. Popcorn at the ready. Dare we say it, but the lingerie spectacular would be an ample opportunity to tease new music. Manifest everyone, manifest!

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Alexander McQueen’s Visionary S/S'23 Show

British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen breaks down the key takeaways from Alexander McQueen’s spring/summer 2023 presentation, staged inside a giant bubble.

The show was about consciousness

The Alexander McQueen show may have taken place inside a huge transparent bubble, but Sarah Burton’s message for this moment in time was far from isolative: “It’s about seeing things and not walking around with your eyes shut – seeing each other! Seeing humanity, recognising each other, and caring about each other,” she said after a show that served as a kind of post-fashion week wake-up call. Unlike the other designers showing during Frieze this week in London, who moved their shows following the Queen’s death, Burton had always planned on an off-schedule, standalone presentation. She said she simply enjoys the freedom that comes with it, but there was something about her show – staged in that bubble between the twin towers of the Old Royal Naval College – that felt particularly reflective. Her message brought back the lessons of consciousness, awareness and connectivity we taught ourselves during the lockdown periods, which now easily seem to slip the mind in the hustle and bustle of post-pandemic life.

The collection featured eye symbols

The collection had taken its point of departure from Moving to Mars, the exhibition curated by the Design Museum just before the pandemic. “At the end of the museum was a picture of the Earth, and it was the most beautiful thing. It made you think, actually, we have it all, if everyone just opens their eyes and uses them to see what’s beautiful about this world we live in,” Burton said. It inspired garments adorned with the eye as a symbol of consciousness: butterfly-shaped dresses in engineered eye print poly faille, armour-like suits in eye print viscose cady, and a second-skin black mesh bodysuit with an eye embroidered in satin stitch, sequins and crystals. “It’s really about how to find the humanity in these very difficult times that we live in. That’s what the eye represents. It’s the most unique symbol of humanity,” Burton reflected.

There were Hieronymus Bosch embroideries

Echoing a macroscopic-vs-microscopic view of the Earth, Burton brought in the Renaissance paintings of Hieronymus Bosch to illustrate her point. Evoked impressively through surface decoration on dresses and corsetry – in satin stitch, hammered bullion and painstaking embroidery – the artist’s animated, capacious compositions entered into an inter-collectionary dialogue with the eye motif, in ways that practically compelled you to look closer. “When you look at those triptychs and those paintings, they’re so beautiful. But when you look very closely, there’s a very dark narrative there. The strange juxtaposition of humanity behaving in one way and nature behaving in another,” Burton explained. “It feels almost like we’re in another dark age,” she said, referring to a post-pandemic time defined by everything from invasion to inflation. “It’s something we’ve always looked at, at McQueen: life, destruction, beauty.”

Sarah Burton brought back the bumster

In her quest to make us use our eyes and look at each other, Burton drew on failsafe material. Conjuring the nostalgic low-slung sex appeal of the season, she reintroduced Lee Alexander McQueen’s “bumster” cut from 1994 in black wool trousers that served as a fitting reminder of who inspired the 1990s and 2000s’ love of the low-rise trend in the first place. For McQueen, as for Burton, it was always about empowerment. “How do you dress a woman to empower her in the times that we live in? How do you play with the proportions of the body? How do you reveal things without it being completely overt? How do you do it subtly? It’s always about a woman dressing for a woman. It’s not a male gaze,” she said. “I wanted everything to be very precisely cut: the tailoring dissected and not much surface embellishment. I wanted to embrace the female form, so even when they had volume I wanted to slice it away and dissect it, so you still see and celebrate the body.” As for those bumsters, she admitted to some element of surprise when she unearthed the originals from the archives: “The crotch is very, very small. I had no idea!”

The bubble venue was recycled

Being in Burton’s bubble felt like anything but a bubble. On the contrary, her show provided some much-needed perspective in a season that’s felt like the ultimate return of fashion week after the pandemic, with all the frenzy and franticness and madness it entails. If the bubble seemed familiar, it’s because it was. One year ago, in October 2021, the brand inflated the exact same bubble atop a 10-storey parking garage on the Tobacco Dock for its spring/summer 2022 show. “We wanted to be in a space that was completely reusable. It’s been stored and we reused it. We just painted the floor white,” Burton explained, adding that 95 per cent of the fabrics used in the collection were sustainable.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Steve Madden Taps Chloe Cherry, Bella Poarch, Latto For Fall Campaign

Steve Madden is introducing its fall 2022 campaign with several famous faces. The footwear brand is debuting its “Maddewood” campaign on Sunday, tapping the likes of actress Chloe Cherry, TikTok influencer Bella Poarch and rapper Latto to front it. “Maddenwood” is an augmented reality campaign that features the stars posing against a “bold and psychedelic universe.”

“We’ve always been forward-thinking with a clear sense of the brand and our consumer,” said Steve Madden. “’Maddenwood’ is the manifestation of that mind-set at its most aspirational. I’m a big movie buff and am fascinated by the whole idea of Hollywood. Here we are creating our own version of Hollywood the Madden way.”

The campaign stars appear in a series of videos that take inspiration from references like Andy Warhol’s screen tests from the ‘60s and low-fi aesthetics of the ‘80s and ‘90s. They model Steve Madden fall 2022 styles like the Fantsie boot, a mid-length heeled style, the Paloma mary janes, a platform, heeled version of the classic shoe, and the double-platform Cypress boots, a knee-length platform boot. The campaign stars are also wearing pieces from the brand’s new apparel collection, such as a black dress, leather jacket, tartan skirt and printed jumpsuit.

Customers can interact with the augmented reality campaign by scanning a QR code, which will direct them to “Maddenwood” videos and campaign imagery.

The “Maddenwood” campaign comes after the brand debuted its “Maddenverse” campaign last year starring Normani, Jordan Alexander, Sydney Sweeney and others. It featured avatar imagery of the campaign stars with oversize heads wearing the Steve Madden’s latest styles.

This year, the brand has also collaborated with Slutty Vegan for a vegan sneaker and crossbody bag and debuted a resale initiative with Dolce Vita.

Cher Stuns The Audience At The Ann Demeulemeester Show

Shows rarely — if ever? — open with raucous applause.But most shows don’t start with Cher. That was the case Saturday night at the Ann Demeulemeester show, when the iconic singer made an entrance just before the first models hit the runway.

The whole room had been seated, silent and still for several minutes in anticipation of her imminent arrival. When she made her entrance in a black coat and grand, swooping hat, the audience erupted into applause.

Cher was on hand to support Demeulemeester’s return to the runway after over two years away, and the designer showed a monochrome and meditative collection of jackets, flowing trousers, tucked dresses and her signature elevated white cotton shirts.

After the show Cher told WWD that she has long been a fan of the brand. In fact, she’s worn Demeulemeester on several red carpets.

“I loved it,“ she said. “I’ve been wearing her things forever. They’re right for me, that’s what I love about them.”

Cher has been the talk of the town since she made an appearance on the Balmain runway last week. As for taking to the soccer stadium for her historic walk, she brushed it off like a pro.

“I’ve been walking on a stage for ever so it was just fun,” she said. Speaking of becoming friends with Balmain designer Olivier Rousteing, she added: “I really like him, and there’s a man’s jacket that I really want.”

She’s been an icon for more than five decades, but doesn’t mull over past styles. In her zen manner, she lives in the moment. “I don’t think of it, truthfully. Each thing is a thing and each moment is a moment and when it’s gone, it’s gone. My mother still looks at old pictures though.”

Before the show, Halsey sat next to the spot reserved for Cher. She was fangirling a little bit, like the rest of the audience.

“I can’t believe it,” she said of her seat. “The reason I was zoning out is that I’m going over and over in my head what I’m gonna say to her. I’ll probably come up with something amazing and then when I see her I’ll go ‘I love you so much’ and won’t have the courage to say anything else after that. Her just being here this week is iconic.”

The singer celebrated her birthday Sept. 29 and decided to spend it in Paris. “Every year it falls right on my birthday. So you know, every year I have to make the decision — am I going on a tropical vacation or to fashion week? And this year I was like, it’s fashion week,” she said.

To celebrate she went out to dinner and took a group of friends to the Crazy Horse cabaret. “They’ve never been and I was like this is a Parisian classic, so you have to see it. I’ve seen the show a bunch of times, but I was like, ‘I just want to see your reactions.’”

The new mom just finished her “Love and Power” tour, and had been vocal on social media about the toll it took on her.

“Now I’m feeling really good,” she said. “Things are slowing down for me and I’m excited to go home and spend some time with my son and, you know, just do holiday things with the baby.”

Among the fashion week chaos, the Demeulemeester show was a moment of calm — at least for 10 minutes before the cameras started snapping again.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Miu Miu’s ‘Performcore’ S/S'23 Show

From a collaboration with the artist Shuang Li to FKA Twigs shutting down the runway, British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen brings you five things to know about Miu Miu’s sportswear-inspired spring/summer 2023 collection.

It was about simplicity

“I’m very serious, but I’m also fun. I am both,” Miuccia Prada said after her Miu Miu show, which riffed on the same themes of simplicity of her Prada show in Milan – but through the sassy, sexy, youth-centric look she’s established for Miu Miu in recent seasons. Adding to that silhouette of skimpy miniskirts and cropped tennis jumpers, she investigated how clothing borrowed from the unassuming sports wardrobe, or garments incredibly simple in structure, can make great fashion.

It was ‘performcore’

Prada asked the European-based Chinese artist Shuang Li to fill the Palais d’Iéna with her signature trippy projections and a soundtrack featuring a spoken-word love poem. With those elements as her backdrop, she sent out a Miu Miu collection of squarely-cut fabrics wrapped around the body with simple fastenings like drawstring or clip buckles. They turned into apron-like skirts, ponchos and dresses, and some very bold cummerbunds and bandeau tops that felt distinctly lifted from a performer’s wardrobe.

It was very layered

Like the Prada collection she presented in Milan two weeks before, the Miu Miu collection played with elements of simplicity and took them to the extreme. The opening look was composed of a grey cap-sleeved T-shirt worn over a beige jumper worn over a grey long-sleeved T-shirt worn over a white T-shirt – ordinary clothes made extraordinary through styling. The message here was one of nuance: Things may look straightforward, but nothing is as simple as that.

It continued the Miu Miu moment

The Miu Miu moment that’s been taking the fashion world by storm in recent seasons isn’t going anywhere, and Prada made sure to keep the spirit of her previous collections going. It was felt in blazers that had their lining ripped out and pulled beneath their outer hem to reveal an underlayer to serve like minidresses, stone-washed leather and denim suits that you wanted to wear straight off the runway, and bras and matching skirts in tailoring fabrics for the more boldly inclined.

FKA Twigs closed the show

The cast included male and non-binary models in ‘menswear’ – “the company doesn’t want it, but we sneak it in,” Prada smiled – as well as FKA Twigs, who closed the show. Above all, the feeling was upbeat. “I went through a really… Friends died and so on,” Prada explained. “Recently, I’m in a good mood for personal happenings with my friends.” She said her ambition with Miu Miu is above all to translate her feelings into fashion: “You can have ideas, feelings about the world, but afterwards you have to translate your ideas into clothes that respect those ideas. And that is difficult.”

Louis Vuitton’s Supersized S/S'23 Show

Louis Vuitton’s Nicolas Ghesquière played with proportions this season, from oversized zips to magnified textural details. Below, see Anders Christian Madsen’s key takeaways from the French fashion house’s spring/summer 2023 show in Paris.

The show took place under a massive flower

“Honey, I shrunk the kids!” As a red curtain went up around the centre of the Cour Carrée – the courtyard of the Louvre – circled by the Louis Vuitton runway, a giant flower was revealed. There we were, downsized by Nicolas Ghesquière in a sweeping surreal gesture that put the whole world into a new perspective. Granted, four weeks of fashion shows also make you somewhat delirious, so the experience was trippy: models came out in dresses that supersized the details of coats, from gigantic zips to colossal epaulettes, massive buttons and enormous poppers, and magnified details of hardware printed on garments. The soundtrack ordered us to “work it!” You felt a little bit like the Ant-Man.

Nicolas Ghesquière played with scale and perspective

Over its four-week course, the seasonal month of ready-to-wear shows has a tendency to minimise your perspective. Because everything is so packed and frantic, you can easily feel like you’re losing touch with the reality of the outside world. Sitting under Ghesquière’s scaled-up flower – created by the artist Philippe Parreno – and taking in those larger-than-life clothing details felt like a much-needed mind-expansion after a month of shows in the shadows of quite dismal real-world events. They need no elaboration, but between the Russian annexation of eastern Ukraine, the human rights conflicts in Iran, and the momentousness of the Queen’s death, it’s been a pretty shattering month.

Textures were magnified microscopic details

You could have studied the details of Ghesquière’s collection for days, or at least longer than what a passing runway look allows. The technical merit was insane: fabric and leather surfaces manipulated through treatments and embellishments to resemble minute elements seen through a microscope. The density was dizzying but, because of the collection’s conceptual approach, never nauseating the way too much surface decoration can easily come across. On the contrary, the addition of those magnified outerwear details – like tops and dresses with giant zips down the front and on the cuffs of sleeves – imbued the proceedings with an abstraction that quickly became magnetic to watch unfold.

The collection echoed the season’s theme of simplicity

With his macroscopic micro world, Ghesquière was giving us a new perspective. But there was another sensibility to the collection, which echoed an undercurrent present in other shows this season. Like Miuccia Prada, whose Prada and Miu Miu collection investigated ideas of simplicity, the message of the Louis Vuitton show very much seemed to be a reflection of our present-day capacity – or lack thereof – for understanding nuance. Nowadays, if you want anyone to listen to you, look at you, buy your clothes – or vote for you – you have to exaggerate and inflate your point to get it across. It’s true for the public debate, for politics, and for fashion, too. Like Prada, Ghesquière didn’t appease that idea, but staged an intelligent comment on it.

The product game was strong

In the upscaled process, Ghesquière threw in some pretty awesome pieces: a grey cocoon coat with massive pockets and a supersized zip, a textured brown leather trench coat with overblown epaulettes and giant industrial push-buttons, big wide 1980s belts, chequerboard boots, and augmented clutch bags that puffed up the Louis Vuitton monogram to new proportions, too. It’s a phrase oft-used but never more meaningful than in this instance: you’d have live under a rock not to be impacted by Ghesquière’s collection.

Chanel’s Nouvelle Vague-Inspired S/S'23 Show

On the last day of Paris Fashion Week spring/summer 2023, Chanel presented a collection that was “very elegant, very pure, very Chanel”. From the cinematic inspiration to the sustainability drive at the heart of the house, Anders Christian Madsen delivers five things to know.

It was intrinsically Chanel

Since she took the helm at Chanel, Virginie Viard has established a certain element of surprise at the house. Within the respectful frames of Chanel, she is not afraid to depart from the direction she set the previous season and go down a very different route, changing the mood, silhouette and atmosphere of her shows and collections. But this season’s proposal felt intrinsically, timelessly Chanel. Retained in a mostly black and white palette – with forays into muted pastels – it chose the tweed suit as its focal point, allowing it to become a kind of blank canvas for different silhouettes that travelled the decades of the 20th century. “It’s very elegant, very pure, very Chanel,” the house’s fashion president Bruno Pavlovsky said before the show.

It was inspired by a film

What purified Viard’s vision was her cinematic choice of reference: Last Year at Marienbad, the stylistically arresting 1961 film by Alain Resnais for which Gabrielle Chanel created the costumes. The film – which follows the aesthetics of the Nouvelle Vague genre – previously served as inspiration for Karl Lagerfeld’s spring/summer 2011 show for the house, which reimagined the film’s baroque garden location in a palatial set with a fountain. Viard’s show opened with a film featuring Kristen Stewart. Shot specially for the occasion, it evoked the atmosphere of Resnais’s masterpiece, which itself mimicked the filmic language of silent movies. In Viard’s contemporary tribute, Stewart talked about the possibilities of the new world in an optimistic monologue that cut a contrast to the fairly dismal mood of this season’s shows.

It was all about precision

“From Marienbad, the movie, to Kristen, it’s the way Virginie feels today about that. It’s her vision of the Chanel woman and her energy today,” Pavlovsky said. “From day one, she was very focused on the looks and the spirit of Marienbad. It’s all about the perfect fit. Everything is perfect, if I may. Each look looks right.” He was referring to how Viard employed the film’s costumes as an investigation into creating a medley of silhouettes that started and ended in the same codes, the same precise tailoring, or languid line of flou. “The films we have seen, those that possess us and those we invent for ourselves, Marienbad, the Nouvelle Vague, the allure according to Gabrielle Chanel, Karl, the night, feathers, sequins, heels: I like it when things get mixed up,” Viard said.

Chanel is focused on sustainability

Behind the scenes, Viard’s reverential, universal approach to Chanel is supported by an insistent focus on sustainability. “It’s about keeping the freedom of the studio, and at the same time, being able to act and execute in a more sustainable way. We have no choice for our future,” Pavlovsky said. “We have to change, but it will be difficult and will take a while to create the same emotion with materials which have no emotion,” he explained, referring to sustainable innovations like mushroom leather. “Leather and fabric are all about emotion. If sustainability makes materials flat and boring, that will be quite a change. So, our job is to ensure that we can be sustainable and convey what luxury is about, which is the emotion of the materials.”

Chanel is going to Dakar

Viard’s next stop will be Senegal where Chanel will stage its Métiers d’Art show in Dakar in December. “We were thinking about it, with Virginie, three years ago. In between we had the Covid and all that. Now it’s possible to go there,” Pavlovsky said. “It’s all about creative energy and Dakar is a creative hub today. We don’t see many of these creative hubs in the world. It’s a very young crowd of artists, craftsmen etcetera, and it’s nice for Chanel to present a collection there, in this kind of energy. It’s not because of our customer. It’s because we want to be part of this energy. It will benefit both Chanel and Dakar.”

Kanye West Wears ‘White Lives Matter’ Shirt In Yeezy Runway Show

This month, Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, broke his lucrative partnership with Adidas and Gap, the brands that supported his fashion line, Yeezy. “Everyone knows that I’m the leader. I’m the king, right? So a king can’t live in someone else’s castle. A king has to make his own castle,” West declared, after the news went public that he had accused the company of breaching their contract. It wasn’t much of a surprise. It would be stranger if Ye were capable of maintaining a stable collaboration. The exception is his close friend Denma, the designer formerly known as Demna Gvasalia, who is the creative director of Balenciaga. Gvasalia was responsible for the creative direction of Donda, the rapper’s most recent album, as well as the now-defunct collaboration with GAP. On Sunday, Ye opened the Balenciaga show at Paris Fashion Week, decked out in the post-nuclear aesthetic that both enjoy.

On Monday, the rapper posted an Instagram photo – a mood board of various celebrities when they were young, including his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian – that sparked speculation that he was planning a secret runway show, this time without Adidas. It was true. At noon, Nick Knight, one of the most prestigious photographers in the world, posted the invitation to the show: a sort of white fetus in movement (perhaps linked to West’s anti-abortion views). The event would be available for viewing on Showstudio, the runway show streaming platform that Knight founded over a decade ago.

A secret location near the Arc de Triomphe brought together a hundred people who had received the invitation that morning. Among them were British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enniful; Russian model Irina Shayk, actor Jaden Smith (son of Will Smith), Zara CEO Marta Ortega, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and, in a rare public appearance, fashion designer John Galliano. Ye appeared onstage with a typically incendiary phrase: “You can’t manage me. This is an unmanageable situation.” “I want everyone to know that [Loouis Vuitton co-founder] Bernard Arnault is my new Drake,” he said, referring to the historic enmity between the two musicians. A children’s choir began singing gospel music. The children were members of the Donda academy, a controversial school the rapper founded a few months ago. A few years ago, Ye created Sunday Services, a sort of alternative Mass in which he preaches to a largely Black audience. The school was the next step in his strange indoctrination strategy.

But none of this was surprising. What did cause an impact was that Ye himself, and some of the Black and Asian models in the show, wore a t-shirt with an image of Pope John Paul II on the front and the phrase “White Lives Matter,” on the back – a slogan used by white supremacists in response to the anti-racist movement Black Lives Matter. Some of the attendees, like Jaden Smith and fashion editor Lynette Nylander, left. “It doesn’t matter what the intention was…it’s perception to the masses out of context, as well as the implication of the choir made up of children that all looked under 10. He knew what he was doing and it was harmful,” Nylander posted later.

Naomi Campbell, whose activism for racial equality has almost been as significant as her modeling career, closed the show. Michele Lamy, the wife and muse of Rick Owens, the designer that Ye idolizes, also walked the runwalk. Galliano, who was fired from Christian Dior after a video was leaked of him making anti-Semitic comments while drunk, was there too. Demna, who only 24 hours prior had used his Balenciaga show to spotlight issues such as refugee rights also there.

Several years ago, West shocked the world by wearing a hat with the pro-Trump “Make America Great Again” slogan. Shortly thereafter, he announced that he would run for president of the United States. But, as Vogue contributing editor Gabriella Karefah Johnson, who was also present at the Paris show, explained in an Instagram story: “He neglected to realize the importance of object, when he tried to extend that kind of subversion to the BLM slogan.” She explained: “It didn’t land and it was deeply offensive, violent and dangerous.”

What’s more, Ye was photographed at the show with Candace Owens, a pro-Trump commentator who is opposed to Black Lives Matter. This undermines the argument that the show was hinting at a world in which white people not the Black community are marginalized.

“It would be nice to swiftly dismiss the shirts as clout chasing. Another stunt to mess with the status quo, to ruffle feathers, to challenge. Depending on your viewpoint, the shirts are either dumb, flippant, or dangerous,” wrote Vogue columnist Raven Smith. “For me, they’re empowering right-wing ideology, further enabling its airtime when we should be stamping it out.”

Has Ye’s role as a provocative artist finally turned against him? The new Yeezy collection was created in collaboration with Shayne Oliver, the legendary cofounder of Hood By Air. Five years ago, the brand won praise for addressing with topics such as structural racism and gender stereotypes. The world may have been wondering for a while what happened to Ye, who was once one of the most talented hip-hop artists of his generation. Now, we should also ask what is happening to the fashion industry, which has spent years advocating for racial diversity.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Thom Browne S/S'23 Just Wants to Have Fun

Thom Browne is nothing but a spectacle, consistently providing jaw-dropping moments on the runway. For Spring/Summer 2023 — which was womenswear-centric at Paris Fashion Week — the American designer welcomed his usual perfected chaos to the French city, and it was a standout moment of the week. For his SS23 menswear, which debuted back in June, Browne got its kink on by fetishizing punk undertones. Jockstraps, anchor-shaped muzzles, exposed underwear, chokers and more fluttered between tweed, whereas SS23’s womenswear couldn’t be further away from this concept.

Instead, we’re treated to full Browne madness and glamor; the ideal combination for an eye-catching moment. Kicking off with a baroque meets Eastern gown worn over a lace dress in red with a ruffled collar (in turn tapping into the big Renaissance trend), we’re soon greeted by a man wearing a signature Browne tailoring ensemble, subverting traditions with a pleated skirt. Perhaps him holding a stool implies we should sit down and take note of what’s to come, as 57 more looks begin to unfold and bring the theatrics.

His signature white, red, and blue stripe motif is translated into a three-tier gown, buttoning at the neck and cascading down the body like a waterfall of triumph. Pastel tones, royal purple, metallic gold, navy blue, white, and much more painted coats that doubled as dresses, almost like an army of similar garments each bearing their own signature. From stripes to floral appliqué, sheer (worn by Michaela Jaé Rodriguez of POSE fame) to sportier renditions branded with collegiate team numbers on the rear, this collection was proof that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Likewise, a slew of blazers — again in a rainbow of pastel — grew structures from their rears, spreading like wings on the models. Browne’s dog bag was materialized on a dress as a print, now appearing alongside boned corset waists and a skirt that could give a fairground carousel a run for its money, while later plenty of circles adorned a wider variety of energetic tailoring, each differing from the next. From a Mr. Blobby colorway to hues fit for Easter, Browne understood the memo for Spring/Summer 2023 — inject fun, bring tailoring to new heights, and don’t take things too seriously.

To conclude, Browne ushered in ideologies taken from his menswear — once again on Rodriguez, the clothes ranged from a shirt fit for a jester, trousers paneled with circles, and an incredibly-exposed set of undergarments, all presented in a pink car being carried by four men.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Stella McCartney On Revisiting Her Y2K Collections For S/S'23

It was all about Stella McCartney’s influence on Y2K fashion for her open-air show in front of the Centre Pompidou. Tweaked reissues of the designer’s gold chain tops from her Chloé spring/summer 2000 collection kicked off the show, worn under super-sized blazers with asymmetrical skirts and net stockings.

Amber Valletta didn’t wear the draped gold chain top she originally wore with white denim hot pants in that same show (someone else did, with an added white tank top underneath), but she did wear a tailored jumpsuit like the one Raquel Zimmermann wore in McCartney’s eponymous spring/summer 2009 show.

The Hadids brought the Noughties nostalgia full circle: Gigi in a sculpted cargo suit that echoed McCartney’s Savile Row days; Bella in a shrunken vest and low-riding trousers with rhinestone-encrusted cut-outs around the hips.

Below, Anders Christian Madsen spoke to McCartney about her reasons for revisiting her Y2K self.

What made you want to revisit pieces from your graduate and Chloé collections?

I collaborated with [Yoshitomo] Nara, who is one of the most incredible artists alive today. He and I are very aligned on our way of approaching the world, which is being at once with nature and animals, and to be pretty punk rock and rebellious and have a message in our work. How do we change the history? That was the overriding theme of this show.

What does that mean?

I want to look back at my history and redefine where I started and where I am now and what the next Stella looks like. So, there were pieces from my past that were referenced.

How does it make you feel to see all these kids wearing the things you designed twenty years ago?

It makes me feel extremely old! My daughter, who’s fifteen, all she does now is go into my closet and take all my original things. And I’m like, ‘Oh, but I have similar things now?’ She’s not interested. She just wants the ’90s.

You brought back the low-riding trouser in a big way.

I always wear everything pretty much low-slung. I think it’s all about comfort, really, and I think one of the gifts of being a female designing for females – a woman designer, which, by the way, there are not enough of at the heads of houses, and it’s important to say that – I try on all the clothes when I fit. It’s critical to me the difference between two millimetres and two centimetres and two inches. It’s life-changing. To me, that gives a clear message of being easy, effortless and sexy. It’s like, bring sexy back at Stella!

“Change the history” means referencing your past in new, more sustainable ways. What sustainable measures went into this collection?

We’ve got the regenerative cotton, which I’m not sure anyone has been able to do on a runway before. We’ve been piloting it for three years. It’s completely bio-diverse, which means that it encourages nature, which is the most amazing thing about it. Normally, we’re a hundred percent organic cotton, but we’ve now brought the regenerative cotton into some of the pieces.

With 87 per cent of the materials being conscious, this is your most sustainable collection ever. What other techniques did you use?

All the faux leather, the vegan shoes, the plant-based materials. And then we have the mushroom leather, which is great – the first mycelium leather bags – and tonnes of other stuff. Because the mycelium mushroom is so cutting-edge, we are only able to manufacture a thousand bags at the moment, so we did a limited edition of a hundred. In the rhinestones, we don’t use any animal glues and we don’t use the solvents that normal rhinestones have, which means we have fewer colours and scales to choose from, so it’s a very different process. But hopefully it looked fabulous nonetheless.

As sustainability adviser to LVMH, how are you impacting the company?

I think the fact that Mr Arnault is sitting there and can look at all those bags, all those shoes, all those non-leather jackets, and can compare with all his other houses and see that there is no sacrifice visually, or in make, or in quality, is really important. The regenerative cotton was a pilot that they funded. We’re a smaller house so we couldn’t necessarily afford that three-year investment. And so now they can see it. We have a faux leather that uses the waste grape skins from vineyards, so I’m trying to make his vineyards do that. That’s the exciting thing for me: to show the rest of the world. I have this incredible seat at the table and I want to infiltrate from within.

Why did you stage the show outside?

I wanted to have more of an inclusive runway show, so anyone who wanted to come see a runway show could come. The exclusivity and elitism of the fashion industry is not really my vibe. This collection is really approachable and wearable, and I wanted to bring people in.

Givenchy’s Paris-Cali S/S'23 show

Givenchy’s Matthew M Williams fused together the elegant Parisian heritage of the French fashion house and the American workwear he grew up with in California for spring/summer 2023. Below, Anders Christian Madsen shares five things you need to know.

The show signified a new direction for Matthew M Williams

The winds of change that blew over the Givenchy runway on the Sunday night of shows in Paris were preceded by a biblical rain shower. Minutes before the show – set under open skies in the Jardin des Plantes – was set to begin, it stopped, the heavens cleared and the sun came out. It was an appropriately dramatic path-clearing for a collection that signified a new clarification for Matthew M Williams. While he stayed true to his fusion of the elegant Parisian heritage of Givenchy and the American workwear he grew up with in California, the execution felt radically more focused. “I wanted to communicate this interaction with a new clarity and strip the final expression of any complexities,” he concurred.

It was a cultural exchange

As an American designer in a French house, Williams is interested in the cultural style exchange that’s historically taken place between these two urban dressing mentalities. More than ever, this collection illuminated that symbiosis – starting with distilling each wardrobe into uncomplicated garments. The American part, he could do with his eyes closed: perfectos, bombers, trucker and denim jackets, and cargo trousers and shorts ripe for the generational taking. For the French part, he delved into Hubert de Givenchy’s archives and detected the codes of the Maison’s heritage most straightforwardly adaptable to a contemporary idea of chic. Then, he worked them into dresses, blouses, skirts and box jackets that integrated naturally with the workwear.

It stayed true to the Givenchy heritage

“Everything begins with Hubert,” Williams said. “I looked at his archives with my adopted Parisian eye, but also with my instinctive American eye. Through his work for Audrey Hepburn, Hubert introduced my country to a certain Parisian sophistication that influenced our own view of elegance – the same way American music culture now inspires the wardrobes of the French youth. The cultural exchange reflected in this collection has been a long time in the making.” Case in point: Givenchy’s culturally universal little black dress – one of the most worn garments on the planet – which Williams ruched and elongated and sportified in a variety of interpretations that made it seductive to a young clientele.

The audience reflected the message

In the audience, Kanye West was flanked by Carine Roitfeld: the personified image of the dual audience Williams designs for; one the king of so-called streetwear (or “lifewear” as Virgil Abloh perhaps more appropriately named it), the other the contemporary custodian of sophisticated, sensual Parisian chic. “In creating the collection, I wanted each silhouette to embody the exchange between traditionally French and American ways of dressing in the urban environment. It’s a study of the elements we associate with ‘Parisian chic’ and ‘Californian cool’, and how those contrasts have integrated in the digital borderless world,” Williams said.

It came with new accessories

Accessories have played a significant factor in Williams’s work for Givenchy, and with his change of direction came new takes on bags, shoes and jewellery – new as well as the familiar. The collection featured new laced knee-high boots, mules and ballerinas and a new bag, the Voyou, an American biker’s take on a Parisian ladies’ handbag. Looks were embellished with jewellery in clear resin, pearls and pavé beads – imbuing classic codes of chic with a certain raw attitude – while a new sunglass design wrapped around the face of models like those known from sports. Juxtaposed with zipped opera gloves, Williams retained a constant balance between the inherent elegance of Givenchy and the industrial values of his own American design practice.

Valentino’s Bodysuit-Centric S/S'23 show

For spring/summer 2023, Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli wanted to “translate the idea of couture into ready-to-wear and embrace different individualities and different skin tones”. Below, Anders Christian Madsen shares his key takeaways from the show in Paris.

The collection centred on skin-toned bodies

Under nearly every look in the Valentino collection, you could spot a special kind of underpinning. A trick of the eye, it was matched exactly to the model’s skin colour. In the age of Skims we’re familiar with those types of garments, but this wasn’t shapewear. It was, Pierpaolo Piccioli explained during a preview, the base on which he had constructed his creations. “When you do a couture dress, you start from the corset. The corset is a piece that creates your body. It’s the symbol of exclusivity; of being unique. If you build from that, of course, you’ll always be exclusive. I wanted to get this idea into the wardrobe. So, I built the dresses on bases – kind of tank tops or T-shirts – in different skin tones in order to create the shaping. On top of those, I created the dresses.”

The bodies created optical illusions

Depending on the creations they evolved into, Piccioli made his bodies in Lycra, jersey, knitwear or viscose, employing them as a kind of nurturing ground for ideas and techniques. Under a very sheer classic short Valentino dress in circular lace and sequins, or a red flouncy oversized unbuttoned blouse worn with matching leggings, the skin-toned bodies functioned as illusions of the naked body itself. Worn on its own with highly contrasting sequinned green trousers and a matching purse and heels, the body – harmonised precisely with the model’s skin tone – had a statuesque quality about it. Rendered in sheer on a male model under a short suit, the jacket lining of which also corresponded to his skin tone, it made the jacket appear as if it was fusing with the body itself.

It featured full-body surface decorations

Set in a black-painted Carreau du Temple with an experimental soundtrack by Erykah Badu, the show was a spaced-out experience. Everywhere in the room, pillars of fuchsia appeared on the benches and sometimes in human clusters of the same colour, with almost blinding effect. They were influencers wearing head-to-toe outfits in Pink PP, the colour Piccioli launched last season and showed half a collection in, and which fed into the Barbiecore fad that’s hit fashion with overwhelming pink force. It’s created a new, more outlandish aesthetic for Valentino, which was also reflected in the glittery, oscillating surface decorations that topped off Piccioli’s bodysuits in this collection. Dense and deep, these embroideries – sequins, beading, plume – had a science-fiction feeling about them, which was only bolstered by the illusionary quality of those skin-toned underpinnings.

It was a figurative message of authenticity

As the show progressed, the minimalising impact of the skin-toned bodysuits was swallowed up by highly expressive garments like an intensely blue sequinned coat that had been pleated. “I bet you never saw a pleated sequin, because it’s impossible to do it and it took two years to develop this technique, because normally when you do the pleats you burn the sequins,” Piccioli said. “I was thinking about this idea of minimalism,” he smiled, “which can sound kind of oxymoronic when you look at this. To me, minimalism means that you subtract something from what you already have. If you have your own identity, you can subtract it right down to its essence. I worked on these surfaces because everything is about pure surfaces.”

The show was called “Unboxing Valentino”

When Martin Margiela worked with skin-toned bodies in the late 1980s, he was making investigations into anonymity and how we can amplify our sense of identity and self-expression through that blank canvas. Piccioli’s findings echoed that study, but through a present-day fashion mindset. “I wanted to change the approach of fashion and think in a different way. I wanted to translate the idea of couture into ready-to-wear and embrace different individualities and different skin tones and different bodies [in different] shades of [nude], but not only in the casting of the show, but in the approach of fashion,” he said. He titled his show “Unboxing Valentino”. “I like the idea of revealing and taking away all the packaging and getting to the essence. It has many meanings.”

Balenciaga’s The Mud Show For S/S'23

From Kanye West opening the show to models carrying fake babies across the mud-drenched runway, British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen brings you five things to know about spring/summer 2023’s Balenciaga spectacle.

The show was set in a mud grave

On the seat of every chair in the gigantic Parc des Exposition de Villepinte where the epic Balenciaga show took place was a note from Demna: “This show is a metaphor for digging for truth and being down to earth.” Before you got to your seat, you had to tip-toe your way around the blackened-out space not to fall into the enormous mud grave that had been dug in the centre of the show space, earthy aroma in tow. Preceded by a longer text mapping out Demna’s aversion for the way fashion labels people, his metaphor for The Mud Show was admirable. But after last season’s presentation – staged just a week after Putin invaded Ukraine – which saw models fighting their way through a snowstorm with bin bags in their hands as a reflection of Demna’s own flight from Russian separatists in Abkhazia in the early 1990s, it was hard not to carry on the association. Just two weeks ago, the Ukrainian military discovered a mass grave in Izium recently dug by the Russian troops, which looked a lot like it. It made for an unnerving start to a Balenciaga show that once again burst the escapist bubble of fashion week. And thank god for that.

Kanye West opened the show

“Naturally I’m an optimist, but I can’t be optimistic right now. This show expressed that very much: The music, the set… It really spoke about the moment we live in,” Demna said, adding that he’s perhaps more “hopeful”. Walking to a loud techno soundtrack that sounded like a post-apocalyptic funeral march (after the Queen’s death, we’re all familiar with a funeral march), Kanye West opened the show trudging through the mud in a square, oversized multi-pocket combat jacket and leather biker trousers. (His ex-wife Kim Kardashian and their children looked on runway-side with Khloe Kardashian and Kylie Jenner.) The look only underlined the grave associations, but also reflected the new set of realities we’re witnessing eight months into the war Demna first referenced days after its inception: Russian reserves forced to go to battle, military losses in the thousands and civilians living in war zones. This wasn’t something Demna put into words, but like last season, the show felt like a form of release to him. If war references seem weird in a fashion context, it’s different when it’s Demna. He has lived the reality currently unfolding in the Eastern Ukraine regions.

It rebelled against society’s ideas of right and wrong

As the show progressed, the war associations faded along with the combat elements. It evolved into a study of the identities and uniforms around which Demna’s work has always centred. An anthropologist designer, he is interested in the normative dress codes that signify communities and the characters they breed. One of his closest friends, the model Yuri walked the show in a denim suit with the jacket off revealing the scars of chest surgery. Another model had the mohawk of a classic punk. And throughout, Demna enhanced his cast’s faces with prosthetics that made them look entirely unique. The point was this: “I hate boxes and labels. That’s how I’ve felt all my life, and I feel like I’ve been punched in the face for being who I am. That’s what society and the internet does. They make up boxes. You have to continue walking and standing up for who you are and defending that,” he said. It inspired a collection that celebrated manmade ideas of the incorrect and disproportionate: Belts and the elastic bands of logo underwear were over-dimensional to the trousers they were styled on, some clothes looked like rags and most of the collection was covered in mud – either from the runway, or through the effect of surface decoration.

Clothes were covered in mud as a form of adornment

Backstage, Demna was wearing a sweatshirt with very real-looking mud-splatter adornment. “What is luxury? I’ve been dealing with that since I started. Is it like a cashmere turtleneck, or can it be anything? In my opinion, it can. That’s what I’ve been trying to say for almost ten years now. Putting that in mud was a reference to that. It’s blasphemous to put a 1,000-euro shoe in mud, but that makes it real. Otherwise it’s just a dream we aspire towards,” he argued. “Making something dirty is much more difficult [than making it neat]. We have a whole department now that ages and makes things dirty. It’s the opposite of what luxury is supposed to be, but I don’t happen to agree with that.” In that sense, the collection was anti-establishment on a level that questioned and confronted convictions we grow up with, passed down by generations and engrained from birth as a matter of course. “It’s about people making their judgments when they see things. It was about addressing your own state of mind and how you feel,” Demna said. “I’m a bit worried that I’m abusing my job as therapy, but it is actually a very good way of finding yourself through what you do,” he laughed.

It featured men with baby carriers and fake babies

“The whole show was how I would like to see people dress,” Demna said. What he meant wasn’t that he wanted to apply his own aesthetic to the world he sees on the street, but that everyone – from the kid in the tracksuit to the lady in the ballgown – should liberate themselves from the rules society drags down over our heads, psychologically coercing us to dress ‘appropriately’. With trademark wit, he illustrated it in men with baby carriers holding what looked like real babies. (You could practically sense the Kardashian-Jenners reaching out for one.) “They were not real babies, but they were very realistic. Quite creepy, I have to say. We had a hard time styling those,” Demna laughed, before explaining the intention behind the sentiment he wanted to convey: “I wanted this ‘dad person’ that has piercings and wears ballerinas and crazy clothes.” At the root of Demna’s work at Balenciaga is a hellbent desire to bring the things we suppress to the surface. “For me, it’s a follow-up to the snow show. What happens when the show melts? It obviously turns into mud, but I found that the reference went deeper than that. It was digging for truth, which is something I’m constantly doing in my work: Trying to find out why I’m a designer through my personal experiences,” he said. “This was a very ‘me’ show in terms of references and looks and silhouettes.”

Comme Des Garçons’s Lamenting S/S'23 Show

Alongside her grief about the state of the world, Rei Kawakubo’s sentiment of “wanting to stand together” was felt in the sheer exuberance of the giant constructions she creates, and feels an undying need to create, says Anders Christian Madsen. Here, everything you need to know about the mournful-yet-hopeful show.

The show was about the sad state of the world

Last season, on the second day of shows in Milan, Putin invaded Ukraine in a move that would impact every presentation from that point on. Pre-recorded messages from designers were played in venues before shows began and every backstage question started with Russia. Eight months on, the war is worse than ever, but the enchanting circus of fashion week can easily make us forget what’s going on outside this bubble. Reality checks aren’t what we expect from a Comme des Garçons show – often so otherworldly and surreal – but on Saturday evening in the Air France building in Invalides, Rei Kawakubo snapped us out of that make-believe and pulled us firmly down to earth.

Rei Kawakubo lamented the sorrow in the world

Backstage after the show, Kawakubo and Adrian Joffe re-instated the handshake queue essential to any Comme des Garçons experience. It felt more poignant to greet them this time, first of all because the show marked their return to Paris after the pandemic – during which the Japanese brand relocated its shows to Tokyo – and because the poetic and sentimental values Kawakubo brings to fashion are so vital to our industry. As tradition prescribes, a few words from the designer arrived via email after the show: “A lamentation for the sorrow in the world today and a feeling of wanting to stand together,” it read.

Kawakubo’s creations expressed a bodily grief

The lamentation Kawakubo was feeling was evident in the black and white mastodons that opened her show. They were veiled in lacquered black lace over giant sculptural silhouettes that looked as if they had been freeze-framed mid-movement. What were those movements? Lamentation is a gut-wrenching word that lends itself to visual interpretation: a sorrow so strong it wants out of the body and inverts the physique like some sort of deforming exorcism. These expressions – for it would be wrong to attach any garment-specific word to them – were hearts worn on the sleeve: a distorted silhouette for a distorted world.

It finished in a moment of colour

Towards, the end of the black-and-white show, which – coupled with blonde wigs by Takeo Arai and headpieces by Gary Card and Valériane Venance that made the models looked like caged angels – evoked the funeral parades that are all too familiar to us all following the Queen’s death less a month ago, specks of colour began to show. The black faded away, leaving blank white canvases that Kawakubo then emblazoned with red flowers that resembled the poppy fields we associate with remembrance. The third to last look was structured as a ring motif framing a deep, black hole through the model’s body. It was a poignant sight that many of us won’t soon forget.

There was hope to be found, too

For all the shattering moments in Kawakubo’s show, there was hope on the horizon. Alongside her grief, her sentiment of “wanting to stand together” was felt in the sheer exuberance of the giant constructions she creates, and feels an undying need to create. Fashion week may be a form of escapism that isn’t always in touch with reality, but thinkers like Kawakubo – and Rick Owens, who was present on her front row – have the platforms and clientele to impact a collective psyche in a positive way. Their clothes enrich the soul and – to use a Virgil Abloh phrase – function as a Trojan Horse for the Mind, rolled into the subconscious to instil sensitivity and compassion.