BOF: In Paris, Few Break Free From Comfort Zone / by Slow Waves

 

While even Rei Kawakubo and Rick Owens seemed to stay in their creative comfort zones, Undercover and Y-Project emerged as winners of the week.

PARIS, France — The Paris Fashion Week which closed yesterday was a tiring ride with little that could be said to move fashion forward. But the rise of overtly political statements, questioning the way women are represented (and, indeed, represent themselves) through clothing, added a spark of current events and deeper meaning to the proceedings. Fashion is about self-representation and dressing is a political act because it deals with the way an individual relates to the community — adhering to shared codes, refusing them or twisting them up.

 

 Y/PROJECT Tartan Knit and Asymmetrical Pencil Skirt

Y/PROJECT Tartan Knit and Asymmetrical Pencil Skirt

Indeed, watching a plethora of collections over the course of a grueling nine days that could easily be reduced to six or seven, one had a nagging feeling that few designers have any intention of really challenging themselves. Paris was all about designers sticking to their comfort zones, tweaking the recipe just a little bit without feeling the need to truly move forward. In a way, it is understandable: uncertain times require the reassuring feeling that comes from repetition. If the urge is to sell, sticking to the familiar items that make up a brand's vocabulary can be a sound strategy. Just take two of the most closely watched fashion brands in the world, Gucci and Balenciaga: the respective creative directors invariably deliver what, in the end, is just a variation on their respective formulas.

 

Glenn Martens, the mastermind behind Y/Project and another winner of the season, has created such a signature. For a start, in a world of stylists, he is a true designer, creating challenging hybrids of streetwear and couture that look like nothing else around. The way Martens deals with shapes, volumes and draping is progressive, and actually offers hope for the future of creation in a world of merchandising. The designer has his own comfort zone too, of course, but it’s one that feels like an elastic space of constant reinvention.

 

 Y/PROJECT Off the Shoulder Knit, Draped Shorts, Open Toe Sandals and Slinky Earrings

Y/PROJECT Off the Shoulder Knit, Draped Shorts, Open Toe Sandals and Slinky Earrings

Indeed, watching a plethora of collections over the course of a grueling nine days that could easily be reduced to six or seven, one had a nagging feeling that few designers have any intention of really challenging themselves. Paris was all about designers sticking to their comfort zones, tweaking the recipe just a little bit without feeling the need to truly move forward. In a way, it is understandable: uncertain times require the reassuring feeling that comes from repetition. If the urge is to sell, sticking to the familiar items that make up a brand's vocabulary can be a sound strategy. Just take two of the most closely watched fashion brands in the world, Gucci and Balenciaga: the respective creative directors invariably deliver what, in the end, is just a variation on their respective formulas.

But in a general climate of nostalgia and remakes — in this respect, the expansive Margiela retrospective which opened at the Palais Galliera museum felt like a warning — is anyone thinking about the future?

 

Read the full article by Angelo Flaccavento on Business of Fashion HERE