Cinematic fashion by A.W.A.K.E. Mode, Y/Project, Avellano
Paris Fashion Week ended in style on Tuesday, despite the general strike. Fewer fans than usual congregated for the main shows, and it was less of a tight squeeze for the guests, but the programme unfolded as planned. Alongside two major houses like Chanel and Miu Miu, a few highly inventive collections were presented, notably those of A.W.A.K.E. Mode, Y/Project and Avellano.
Blade Runner mood at A.W.A.K.E. Mode
Whether dressed in an austere baggy suit, eyes cached behind a long fringe, or clad in casual cargo trousers or a sheath dress, A.W.A.K.E. Mode women made an impression. They were at once powerful and laid back, masculine and sophisticated, classic and eccentric. “Like a femme fatale, but relaxed. There’s a highly structured, comfortable element, but also a more feminine, romantic aspect to the collection,” summed up designer Natalia Alaverdian. She said she was inspired “by the atmosphere of Ridley Scott's masterpiece, Blade Runner,” as was made clear by the show’s last few models, sporting the futuristic retro hairstyle of Rachel, the cult movie’s protagonist.
The collection was a blend of couture cuts, geometric lines, sophisticated construction and wonderfully tactile materials sourced from dormant stock. Swaths of fabric from the waist of several denim trousers fitted together to form a pair of jeans, bright yellow ensembles were cut in plush, soft cotton wool, others were made in textured vinyl, skai or aged faux leather. Dresses and large handbags were made in striped faux fur. Velvet and sequins added sparkle to flowing draped evening dresses.
Suits were built entirely from slashed strips of fabric, like a plumage. Several outfits were constructed in checkerboard fashion using interlaced strips. Round, spherical buttons highlighted long slits in the lower part of trousers, ran diagonally across a maxi skirt or sketched a lateral curve on a pair of new-look cowboy trousers. Huge pockets were attached almost everywhere.
Worth mentioning were the highly attractive shoes, like precious design objects. They are made in Italy and were sometimes worn mismatched, a silver mule on the right foot, a gold one on the left. They also came covered in fur, in braided leather or decorated with gold spheres. A.W.A.K.E. Mode is based in London and has a dozen employees. It is distributed via 60 multibrand retailers, including the Galeries Lafayette, Printemps and Samaritaine department stores, and the USA are its main market.
Y/Project’s creative imperfection
Y/Project made a stunning come-back on the Paris womenswear calendar on Tuesday, staging a high-impact show in which models majestically strode across the floor of a dilapidated building under construction, following in slow motion the poignant, endlessly repeated notes of the ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ air from Haendel’s opera Rinaldo.
The pauses stretching between the notes lasted a few seconds, ideal to appreciate the thousand and one ideas and construction details injected by Glenn Martens into each of his creations, which seemed to spiral in a perpetual whirlwind. There were no floating ribbons or fluctuating fabric effects. Martens created the illusion of dynamic movement by totally destructuring the garments. For example, belts, ties, necklaces and handbags seemed all caught in a whirl and some clothing was twisted in a spiral.
The button strip on a jacket or shirt would suddenly go off on a tangent to the opposite side. Trousers were unbuttoned along the legs and buttoned up again diagonally, or they were lined with strips of fabric and worn as overtrousers that were too loose, leaving yawning gaps. The collection was a hymn to creative imperfection.
Martens has riffed on his great classics, pushing his experiments further. His famous culotte-trousers with exposed lining have been reinvented this season by swapping the trouser legs with huge fairy-tale boots made of the same fabric. He has also worked creatively with frayed thread, which was embedded in various outfits like impromptu tears, or embroidered tentacle-like around a dress, or seeming to completely rip a garment apart.
As he did last season, Martens, also the creative director of Italian denim label Diesel, has gone big on trompe l'oeil prints and especially denim. The material was once again ubiquitous, injected in large doses into the collection in a variety of looks, treatments, washes, prints and constructions. One wonders whether Y/Project may become Diesel’s couture line…
Avellano’s neo-futuristic all-latex collection
After opening with Blade Runner, Paris Fashion Week’s last day ended with The Matrix. Dark glasses, long trench coats, floor-length cassock-like coats, gloved hands, stiletto heeled-boots. As well as super-slinky leggings and jumpsuits hugging the body and legs. A string of all-latex black total looks strolled down the Avellano runway, as if the characters of the famous sci-fi movie were multiplying before the audience's eyes.
For his first show on the Paris womenswear calendar, Toulouse-born designer Arthur Avellano has focused on his favourite material and the looks that made his early success, from wide trousers to amply cut, flowing trench coats and jackets, infused with a neo-futuristic mood. He has continued to work on latex, exploring new manufacturing methods and techniques resulting, for example, in snakeskin-like or sheer latex, and in glittering mesh jumpsuits, made with latex printed in 3D on tulle and decorated with hand-laid Swarovski crystals.
Avellano has neglected menswear, introducing only two men's looks in the collection and shifting almost entirely to womenswear, with draped sheath dresses that envelop the body's curves and sometimes leave the back bare, with sumptuous train dresses, and flared tunic-jumpsuit hybrids with thin straps suggesting a degree of flexibility and lightness. Some chrome-coloured items appeared to have been cast in metal, while transparent latex tops looked as though they were made with lightweight fabric.
Avellano has withdrawn from wholesale distribution to focus exclusively on made-to-measure and bespoke products. Ever since Kim Kardashian wore an Avellano dress, the label has been a hit on red carpets. “We never stop. We work with a lot of stars and celebrities, but also bands and touring musicians. We’re drowning in requests,” said Arthur Avellano, who now has a dozen employees.
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