The delicate music and voice of Fka Twigs's live performance gave the Valentino show a peculiar atmosphere, emphasising romanticism – the main theme of the collection. The tailoring approach that Pierpaolo Piccioli used for jackets, coats, suits and sportswear was stiff and structured. The romanticism aspect was expressed by fluid lines mixed with a distinct design: the jackets were opened on one side to facilitate the hand reaching the pocket – a small design trick that lightens the silhouette. Images of flowers from Dutch photographers Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin's works were patched on the clothes alongside sentimental words by French artist Mélanie Matranga as amplification of the tender mood of the collection. There was also the debut of the latest sneaker inspired by taekwondo and by the OnitsukaTiger x Valentino Garavani. Maybe the last sequined looks seemed a bit outdated but Piccioli demonstrated that formalwear can be exciting, leaving its homologated boxed mindset to become a new language of freedom of expression in a new, changed society.
Jun Takahashi at Undercover very rarely explores the Japanese aesthetic and, for his past collections, he has always been an avid analyst and interprets of the American and European demeanour. This season, maybe due to the new Reiwa era of Japan started last May 1st with new Emperor Naruhito, the designer decided to go back to his Japanese roots narrating medieval Japan and inspired by the 1957 Akira Kurosawa movie "The Throne of Blood". It was the inspiration to translate the costumes of that era in today's garment. The performance was stunning and catching, briefly following the movie plot. Takahashi is both a dreamer and a disruptor and he applies these qualities to propose a contrasting modern-ancient Japan: Windrunner meets kimonos, sporty samurai armours, evening western tuxedos and other Japanese touches like a rolled centipede used as a Mon (traditional emblems to identify Japanese families or institutions). Even if the show looked very scenographic and folk-oriented, the collection was made of desirable and wearable pieces. That's what styling could be, not just a display for stylists ego, but the real designer's vision.
After "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" directed by J.J. Abrams, Raf Simons went into the iconic science fiction saga and delivered a rétro elegant space-age inspired collection. There were no space suits or techno gimmicks just reference to a past that was used to talk about the future. At first sight, it could look like a perfectly tailored collection composed of smokings, black suits, capes and stoles, but, up close, everything is different. The models were carrying muffs, traditionally used by women, with messages like "Solar Youth - They don't want you to know what you are", "Arrival - The future has begun", the Chewbacca faux fur coats, the Sixties-style boots meets sci-fi boots and the metallic turtleneck underneath the sharp tailored suit or capes, clearly inspired by Star Trek-esque memories. There were also wraps and long capes in transparent plastic that neutered people in order to not be contaminated. The collection was a beautiful example of how it's still possible to be interesting showing basics such as suits and capes. It's a creative and twisted vision, something that could be presented in one of the more central locations instead of the Ivry-Sur-Seine in the outskirt of Paris at the end of a long day of défilées and crazy Parisian traffic jams.
It seems that Abloh's skater boys with no apparent life plans are growing up and they stopped the ollies to start thinking about life. The 27-year-old tap dancer Cartier Williams, who opened the Off-White show, was wearing a t-shirt with a clear message: "I support you black businesses". The slouchy silhouette, the fluid double-breasted suit and the adult attitude gave a twist to what the pyrotechnic creative designer usually delivers. Everything was smooth, sweaters and hoodies were substituted by delicately knitted pullovers and, together with the bomber jackets, the collection presented soft ponchos. Although there were some Comme des Garçons references, the overall look was more mature. This time, Abloh presented a collection that can also target people who are not part of the Off-White gang. On the other hand, is his community ready to grow up and embrace a style that doesn't represent them? Virgil Abloh himself had a whole new look: shaved, with glasses and a calm pace seemed to have slowed down the fast life that forced him to stop and abstain from stressful activities for three months late last year. Is it all over or is there still a tornado warning?
JW Anderson found his own way to present his collection. His passion for art and his deep research that forerun the collection are showcased not just through the clothes but with installations, messages and actions that complete the vision. This season, the designer was inspired by the work of David Wojnarowicz, the American multimedia artist and AIDS activist that died in 1992. The venue became the installation itself: a curated space with black and white chairs with sitting mannequins wearing a mask with French poet Arthur Rimbaud's face from a photo from 1978 and felted intarsia jumpers featuring "Untitled (Burning House)" from 1982 – both went on sale immediately after the show in support of VisualAIDS. Then there were the clothes as the final part of this season's project. The look was gentle and sophisticated, a contrast of oversized and narrow silhouettes with a maxi coat featuring a big, golden chain as the belt and tiny balloon bottomed top in pleated silk or knit.
"Fashion is all a matter of fun and often we forget this," explained designer Glenn Martens backstage at the Y/Project show. "That's why I decided to use fanfares as a soundtrack and fill the venue with balloons where the audience will be immersed." Actually, the immersive experience was quite fun. The co-ed collection was literally twisted in the silhouette, a signature construction of the designer, who always tries to go in a different direction. "Every single piece has a twist, and this time I feel it as a twist of fun," he explained. In fact, this season, the men's wardrobe classics have been gnarled keeping their essence but evolving their shape. The show was beautiful but the asymmetric buttoning in the overall look was a bit Balenciaga, even if Martens has been mastering his architectural construction since the very beginning. The cool factor was the Y/Project collaboration with dawn jackets brand Canada Goose, a collab that was also distorted into interesting layered oversized shapes.