Distressed dystopia at Enfants Riches et Déprimés
Apologies to The Who, but it seems that the kids aren't all right. At least not at Enfants Riches et Déprimés's Spring/Summer 2023 show, which took place last night in Paris's Lycée Henri IV, one of France's top-ranked public high schools.
If Henri Alexander Levy has always channeled -- to not say embodied, as the designer himself wears his hair bleached blond and his skin très inked -- a Neo-punk identity, it seems to now have evolved into that of schoolgirl-rebel-gone-gothic. For the girls, long corseted bustier dresses paired with matching jet black chokers. And for the boys? Chunky rain boots, fitted dress suits (though the pants are punctured with bullet-shaped holes) and lots and lots of dangling silver chains, dripping from the shirts' collars onto the pants' belt loops.
Backstage, Levy reveals his inspiration was a "neo-punk, American Beauty-type communist character", referencing Sam Mendes' 2000 bittersweet dramedy about how an average family father, Lester, falls in love with his sulfurous teenage daughter's friend. Spolier alert: things don't end well for Lester, and his deadpan, moping spawn moves on with her voyeuristic boyfriend without an ounce of regret or sadness regarding her father's fate.
Once again, Levy seems to hint to the fact that his enfants riches are, indeed, also very déprimés (depressed in French). In an era where youth is stricken with drug addiction worldwide, the designer embellishes his models' boots with blood-red NA initials: Narcotics Anonymous. And in a war-ridden climate, his enfants terribles also yearn for a revolution. On the back of a leather jacket, an illustration of Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong. And for headwear, drooping caps bearing a bright carmine star - obviously reminiscent of Che Guevara.
Levy stresses that this collection was only about "aesthetics and emotions", and insists there is no intellectual affinity to it. Yet, one can't suppress a comparison between the designer and that one angsty 15-year old genius we could find sitting in the back of the classroom doodling or staring out the window. Like the latter, he doesn't seem to fully grasp the political and societal complexity of his show, nor the dystopian representation of a jaded juvenescence.
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