Paris Fashion Week in Karl Lagerfeld’s shadow
A few days after the death of Karl Lagerfeld, the world of fashion is gathering together on Monday in Paris, to start a Fashion Week laced with grief. Fashion giant Lagerfeld did not want a funeral, and even less a public tribute, but he will be on everyone's minds. Especially on March 5, the day of the Chanel show, which will end the catwalk marathon for the women’s Autumn/Winter 2019-20 ready-to-wear collections, from New York to London, Milan and finally Paris. The Chanel show, which will introduce the last creations designed by the Kaiser with his right-hand woman Virginie Viard, his successor at the Parisian label, is already heralded as the high point of an emotion-filled week.
While Paris’s fashion icon has passed away, after dominating the scene for nearly half a century, the French capital is ready to embrace the next generation of designers, featuring an astonishing number of new names. Over a dozen of them are included in the presentation programme (Faith Connexion, Gauchère, Karim Adduchi, Kimhekim, Kristina Fidelskaya, Kwaidan Editions, Mame Kurogouchi, Moohong, Unravel Project, Walk of Shame, Cukovy, Maison Mai, Magda Butrym and Savoar Fer) and four will be treading the catwalks for the first time.
The first will be Rokh, the label designed by talented South Korean Rok Hwang, a graduate of the Central Saint Martins school, recognised with a special award at the LVMH Prize 2018, which will kick the week off on February 25 with its flowing, deconstructed fashion. Before launching the women’s ready-to-wear label in London in 2015, Hwang, who grew up in Texas, cut his design teeth under Phoebe Philo at Céline, and also collaborated on various projects with Chloé and Louis Vuitton.
The following day, Tuesday 26, it will be Dawei’s turn to stage its debut show. The label was launched in September 2016 by Chinese designer Dawei Sun, a long-time Paris resident, and features a contemporary style at once sophisticated and easy, cleverly blending three strands: a young, amusing urban sportswear feel, a ‘warm’ kind of minimalism and a touch of poetry and romanticism.
Dawei Sun already has a remarkable experience in fashion: after graduating in 2005 from the school of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne (the Paris couturiers' union chamber), in 2010 he launched a first label, Belle Ninon, with Ling Liu, and with the latter he was also in charge of style at Cacharel until 2013.
On the week’s last day, March 5, just after the Chanel show, Cyclas and Jarel Zhang will also be staging their first Parisian shows. Cyclas is a luxury ready-to-wear label with a minimalistic, laid-back style and a sophisticated, timeless elegance. The brand is led by former Japanese fashion buyer Keiko Onose, who served as director of women's fashion buying at United Arrows for 13 years before founding TheSecretCloset in 2007, a luxury designer fashion retailer which operates five boutiques in Japan. Through TheSecretCloset, Onose also launched a private label of the same name, before founding Cyclas in 2016.
Jarel Zhang was born in China and studied at the University of the Arts in London, and afterwards at Northumbria University. The label he launched in 2015 is distinctive for its innovative, futuristic style. It was presented in New York, London and, last March, in Paris, before finally making it to the Parisian catwalk spotlight this season.
Three come-backs will undergo intense scrutiny at the Paris Fashion Week: those of Lanvin, Nina Ricci and Lacoste, all with new creative directors at the helm. For French designer Bruno Sialelli, February 27 will mark a major debut: formerly with Loewe, Balenciaga and Paco Rabanne, Sialelli was called up by Lanvin last January. The Parisian label is controlled by Chinese investment group Fosun and is undergoing a revival.
The curiosity around the March 1 show by Nina Ricci is also mounting: the French label, following the departure of Guillaume Henry, who moved to Patou, has taken the daring, radical step of handing over the reins to a very young design duo featuring Rushemy Botter, 33, and Lisi Herrebrugh, 29, joint winners of the Hyères Festival 2018 and LVMH Prize finalists. Botter hails from the Caribbean island of Curaçao and studied at AMFI, Amsterdam’s fashion institute. Herrebrugh, his work and life partner, is a graduate of the Academy in Antwerp, Belgium, where they have both been living for nine years. The couple was a hit in Hyères with a highly inventive, engaged menswear collection, notable for its suits, deconstructed and reassembled in endless variations.
The third ‘rookie’, not quite a rookie actually, is Louise Trotter, who on March 5 will stage her maiden show for Lacoste, where she replaced Felipe Oliveira Baptista. The British designer has had a brilliant career as the creative director of Joseph in London.
She formerly also worked as creative director for high-end fashion retailer Jigsaw, after starting out in the USA, at Calvin Klein first, then at Gap, as vice president of product design and development for the womenswear collection, before being appointed senior vice-president and creative director of the high-end line H Hilfiger.
Kenzo is also making a come-back. The label skipped the September fashion week to prepare the new ‘see now, buy now,’ project, which will be deployed with its new Memento line, inspired by the label’s archives. The Memento no. 4 collection will be immediately available for sale after its presentation on February 27.
Alongside these novelties, the week will feature shows by all the most prestigious Parisian labels, from Christian Dior to Saint Laurent, Chloé, Celine, Hermès, Balenciaga and Givenchy, to name but a few, as well as a plethora of international designer labels like Alexander McQueen, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Miu Miu, Dries Van Noten and Thom Browne. These will be joined by a special guest: Tommy Hilfiger. The star designer will show host a show for the first time during Paris' womenswear Fashion Week on March 2, when he will reveal his collaboration with American actress and singer Zendaya.
This Paris Fashion Week is therefore promising attendees an intense programme which has nonetheless suffered 10 withdrawals, including those of Korean designer Moon Youn Lee and Paul & Joe, both of whom will actually be showing off-calendar on February 26 and March 3, respectively. Stepping away from the French capital altogether, however, is Berlin-based, Shanghai-produced label Ximonlee, which gave Paris a test run last winter, much like A.W.A.K.E., which opted to return to London this season, where it showed last week. Having been relaunched in 2018, the historic Poiret label will also be dropping out after two seasons showing in Paris and the departure of designer Yiqing Yin. As for Jour/Né, the designers have chosen not to put together a runway presentation this season "for personal reasons."
Esteban Cortazar will be absent as well, as the Colombian designer chooses to concentrate on his pop-up projects, while Valentin Yudashkin – focused on a number of large events in Moscow – will also be skipping Paris this season. The John Galliano label, which is currently undergoing a reorganisation process, will not be showing either and is contemplating new presentation formats. Sonia Rykiel, on the other hand, has opted for a more intimate presentation this season, following its September show, which was held in the street dedicated to its founder in Paris' Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood.
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