paris fashion week: paco rabanne

(images via vogue)

can i at once say i believe paco rabanne‘s new designer (she only premiered her work for the s/s 2013 season), lydia maurer doesn’t have the kind of attention-grabbing charms of her predecessor, manish arora (see his two collections for the house–s/s 2012 & f/w 2012), and yet, all the same, i did like her f/w 2013 presentation at paris fashion week? okay, then, i did. i must confess, i’m not, like, convinced that ms. maurer (while a talented designer in her own right, just the same) is the correct choice for leading up the house, i’ll nevertheless grant that she created some pretty, wearable clothes.

i guess ultimately the difference for me was that while mr. arora seemed determined to harken back to the fashion show’s heyday with the the house’s chain mail signature looks twisted into some totally conceptual (and not always readily accessible) creations, while ms. maurer is planted more firmly in commercial territory, this season nodding to sixties mod motifs, alongside the kind of schoolgirlish vibe the fashionies love so well. and while there’s nothing wrong with her work per se, for me it helped drive home the point that financial transactions motivate everything, and the art definitely takes a distant second place.

but maybe that sounds overly harsh. i would like to say i believe ms. maurer did a nice job of reinterpreting some of paco rabanne’s signature chain mail looks in her own manner, and i liked that they were alluring whilst not pushing the sexay times too far, like magda laguinge’s frock that was turned into a rather preppy polo shirtdress version, or julia frauche’s sleeveless number with its almost flapper-esque vibe featuring a drop-waist. and of course, marie piovesan’s futuristic almost military high-necked navy coat with its shining silver collar detail and the sharp center front line running in slightly asymmetric fashion as it was adorned with its prim buttons.

well. of course because i’m hesitant, however, as you can probably imagine, the critics were all good times and booze flowing. thus, according to the fashion spot, for example, the “collection was heavy on the house’s signature chain mail. Done in mod silhouettes, most of the looks appeared rather fluid despite the stiffness of their materials. Slip dresses, tailored suits, flouncy pleated skirts and structured outerwear rounded out the collection, which showed promise for a possible brand comeback.”

meanwhile, style chimed in that a “theme that Maurer explored was aviation; the opening look, a trim suit in inky blue, upgraded a pilot uniform with a pleasing sleekness. Then she brought back chain mail, but turned it into the type of collared shift better suited to a mod ingenue than a disco queen. A closer inspection backstage revealed that the metal mesh had been flocked on the inside; mostly, Maurer explained, she did that to add comfort. But flocking also appeared on the outside whenever she sought to cast a matte shadow atop the metal grid. ‘Flocking is something technical and not found in luxury so much,’ she said. “It just kind of clicked.'”

and vogue declared that the “collection felt youthful and fresh and like it had Maurer’s energy stamped all over it, whereas last season it was waiting to break free. She channelled the Sixties, Rabanne’s heyday of course, in every which way: little natty Mod shifts in chainmail, which then cleverly inserted itself as a detail point on collars or pleats of skirts when it wasn’t the garment itself; double-breasted pea coats with big round buttons; and great cap-toed boots. It was a smaller collection than last season and all the better for it….It very much felt like from here on in is the time to take note, now there’s a new focus and an identity that bridges the old and brings it to the new. So onto round three.”

“Maurer made a light-years leap with this concise display of tailored suits and fluid metal mesh dresses, inspired by the androgynous style of French pop icon Françoise Hardy,” explained wwd. “A Mod-inspired trouser suit and an Empire waisted leather coat came in the navy blue of a pilot uniform, set off by shiny silver buttons. A metal mesh jumpsuit directly referenced a Sixties photograph of Hardy posing in a London park. The mesh was also worked into graphic dresses and kicky skirts, some paired with black mink sweaters. With these crisp silhouettes, Maurer proved she can nod to the house’s heritage without resorting to pastiche.”

then, finally, said elle, “‘I started from that image of Francoise Hardy standing bolt upright in that jumpsuit,’ recalled Maurer backstage, ‘and I thought what would a woman like that wear today? The rigour of the Mods in their approach to dressing – the relentless pursuit of a strong look – I really wanted to retain that and to make beautiful pieces, but to make each piece have the option of wearing it in a more easy, contemporary way.’  It’s hard to imagine chainmail being a quotidian wardrobe staple, but Maurer proposes a flippy metallic skirt worn with a sweater, or leather pleats topped off with a biker jacket. Add naturally dried hair, ankle boots and barely-there make-up and we’re almost able to look as cool as the Mods – but without looking like we tried anything near as hard.”

(see the collection video here)

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