Paris: powerful women at Off-White, delicate at Shang Xia
Off-White and Shang Xia opened the fourth day of Paris Fashion Week AW23 in style on Thursday. The first house organised a show with great impact, projecting its creations to a distant planet, while the second focused on a young and very contemporary wardrobe.
A huge steel globe dominated the centre of the stage covered with earth and stones scattered everywhere, recreating a dusty lunar landscape. A desert, like a blank page on which to write the rest of the Off-White story. For his first collection last summer, designer Ibrahim Kamara paid homage to Virgil Abloh, whom he succeeded last year, but now he is opening a new chapter. "This collection marks the beginning of a new journey, inspired by a world under construction. It imagines something that does not yet exist," he explains in his note of intent.
So the stage was set, ready to welcome explorers and intergalactic tribes from an undetermined future. Two bandoliers perforated with metal eyelets criss-crossed the chests of the mannequins, like cartridge belts. These silver metal rings were everywhere, giving a martial look to all-black outfits. Small or larger, they draw embroideries on tops and knitwear, decorated the edge of clothes, energized short skirts with wide pleats or took over dresses, trousers, coats and even furs, entirely perforated with these dots.
Monochrome orange and sky blue ensembles were part of the wardrobe, as well as knitwear with holes here and there, decorated with fine chains, knitted in a gradation of autumnal colours. There were also woollen jackets and coats in a khaki and brown camouflage style, reminiscent of those images of the earth seen from the sky. Also in this vein, tiny people photographed from above could be seen on a superb caramel-coloured leather suit.
If the women looked like queens, like supermodel Naomi Campbell in a sinuous backless dress, the men looked like explorers or warriors of the universe with backpacks, sometimes multiplying into a multitude of mini-bags and clutches, or printed on a jacket as an illusion. The straps of bags and parachutes hung from the front of jackets, clasped shoulders or surreptitiously emerged from a jumper. The ensembles were completed with heavy down jackets and military trousers with zipped pockets as well as a spacesuit made from an embossed silver survival blanket.
The silhouette was redefined by futuristic accessories, such as elongated glasses with tinted lenses, flashy spherical earrings, metal caps made up of toothed wheels (Martian style), while the toes of shoes were equipped with plastic reflectors, like a bicycle headlight.
Shang Xia unveiled an elegant and light collection. Young creative director Yang Li continues to reposition the brand, which was acquired in 2020 by Exor, the Agnelli holding company, in a contemporary design. Wearing raised mules without heels, the models seemed to move with ease, accompanied by the notes of an electric guitar playing live. This airiness was underlined by long rectangles of undulating fabric, applied to the top of certain tops and dresses, or by impalpable dresses, which stretched out in the back.
But also by openings uncovering the body. In particular, by means of large gaps cut out under the armpits of dresses in the form of an hourglass, or by open windows on the sides of cashmere coats. In other ensembles composed of black openwork knitwear and skirts, a myriad of circles let the whiteness of the skin show through in a milky way.
As usual, the designer favoured a refined, almost minimalist design. No frills. No prints, just monoblocks of colour, with just the occasional unexpected bright red on a jacket or lemon yellow on a pair of tailored trousers. Only a few graphic patterns adorned certain models, taking on the appearance of rocky mountains in a series of sporty down jackets and leggings, for example.
This wardrobe for next winter is above all very well structured and practical, designed for the Gen Z (especially Chinese), which the label wants to seduce. It is composed of wearable clothes that are easy to combine. The Shang Xia woman can choose between tweed dresses with small checks, loose-fitting jackets, mini dresses, shirts and capes, while she doesn't hesitate to swap her raised mules for more comfortable lace-up trainers.
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