Paris Fashion Week: Valentino’s vie en rose, Ann Demeulemeester’s total black
After two years indelibly marked by the pandemic, designers are going back to basics and to fashion fundamentals, beginning with the notion of total look, paying painstaking attention to the colour palettes they pick for their collections. Last week-end, on the Paris Fashion Week runways showcasing Fall/Winter 2022-23 women’s ready-to-wear, two labels notably pushed the concept of colour-block looks to extremes.
Valentino broadcast a strong signal with a collection featuring one colour only (except for the black looks at the end of the show): candy pink. It was as though a giant paint pot had spilled all over the studio, the pigment soaking everything it came across in fluorescent pink, from clothes to tights, gloves, shoes, handbags, jewellery and more. Including the Carreau du Temple venue hosting the show, transformed into a huge pink box.
“This shade of pink was the first hue that came to mind, because it has always featured in my collections. It doesn't imply a girly style, but it means starting from a monochrome base in order to change what the eye perceives. When everything is in the same colour, we pay more attention to details, volumes, proportions and cuts. Gender becomes indistinguishable, but we see people as they are,” said Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli during an impromptu press conference at the end of the show, revealing that the hue, called Pink PP, is set to be added to the Pantone catalogue.
Piccioli drew his inspiration for the collection from a jumbled array of images, whose beauty he strove to capture. From pictures of David Bowie to a portrait of Audrey Hepburn, from paintings by Piero della Francesca to Lucio Fontana’s slashed canvases. “I thought about Fontana, who used to tear through canvas and worked with monochrome hues. I wanted to create a moment of reflection, of calm, a time when everything is still suspended. Using only one single colour was a way to capture an instant of beauty. Everything seems to be steeped in this colour, to the point I felt the need to stretch the silhouette, to work vertically, always with this idea of suspension,” said Piccioli.
The models hover on vertiginously high heels and platform soles, their arms and legs seemingly painted pink by tights and elbow-length gloves. They alternate between short outfits (mini dresses, cute little suits, maxi t-shirts glittering with sequins morphing into micro tunics) and longer ones (ample coats with trains, evening gowns). The lines are sharp, precisely cut, notably in the necklines that carefully cling to the curve of the models’ breasts, or alternatively more generous, as in the oversize, finely knitted dresses, the silk and taffeta sets, and the sheer tulle corsets with flowery embroidery. Some looks feature even more flowing lines, like the jumpsuits, sequinned dungarees, tracksuits and comfy trouser suits.
Ann Demeulemeester’s icy winter
Ann Demeulemeester instead dreamt up an icy winter world. The label's entire collection hinges on length, and on one signature item, the overcoat: to dress with, to protect and to envelop the body, covering it down to the feet, brushing the ground. Made in felt, thick wool, wrinkled leather or brushed wool, overcoats come in many shapes and sizes, as a cape, single or double-breasted coat - with or without a collar - as a pea jacket, formal jacket or biker jacket, and even as a gilet from a three-piece suit, sleeveless and dropping down the feet.
Ann Demeulemeester’s longline overcoats stretch the silhouette, looking like a curate's cassock or a lone cowboy's duster coat, worn with a black felt hat, the brim pulled down low over the eyes. White sneakers and high black socks complete the looks, all strictly in black or grey, brightened occasionally by white removable collars.
The straight-cut dresses with plunging necklines and the woollen skirts with rear slits are also quite long. Generously cut suits whose jackets drop down to the thighs complete the wardrobe, while for their evenings out, both ladies and gents wear glittering coats.
Sitting in the front row, founder Ann Demeulemeester watched the show for her eponymous label, which was bought in 2020 by Italian businessman Claudio Antonioli. She did not wish to comment, hiding behind a simple “I’m very happy” when talking about the new chapter the label has begun.
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