Your ticket to what went down in London, Paris, Milan and New York
Words: Daniël Geldenhuys | Photography: Getty
The international Spring 2019 collections wrapped up in Paris last week, and it feels like fashion is at a critical stage in its grand narrative – where it can choose to either engage with socio-political issues, or not. Overall, the more independent a design house, the braver it seemed to be in successfully engaging with news headlines. Big-business luxury houses seem more caught up in strategic moves, deciding who's best positioned to control them and rake in the cash. Some shows were just plain beautiful – an idea that will always matter in this industry. That's the point of this roundup: not just to show you the best or the worst, but rather the ones that matter.
Pyer Moss, 11/09, New York Fashion Week
Designer Kerby Jean-Raymond hosted his runway show in Brooklyn's Weeksville. The neighbourhood is named after James Weeks, an African American dockworker who founded it in 1838, eleven years after the abolition of slavery. The show questioned that notion of freedom. A collaboration with visual artist Derrick Adams resulted in printed pieces depicting African Americans doing normal things – something they're increasingly getting persecuted for in contemporary America.
What the show lacked in aesthetic cohesiveness (a result of the brand's collabs with Reebok and FUBU) it made up for in its mature political commentary. Making another batch of slogan tees would have been talking the talk – this collection walked the walk.
Victoria Beckham, 16/09, London Fashion Week
For her 10th anniversary show (yes, it's been a decade since Victoria Beckham officially switched from Posh to designer) VB came home to London. The way her aesthetic has grown from sporty body-con dresses to something much more contemporary (slouchy, oversized) but still sexy is testament to her skill and vision as a designer. The power trouser has overtaken the power dress (read: the evolution of power dressing), and it's been years since that deliciously shocking collection where she replaced her signature heels with flats. Her secret, if you want to call it that, is her hands-on approach, playing sample model and designing for her own super-woman (boss, mom, wife) lifestyle. It's worth acknowledging and celebrating, and we look forward to the next ten years.
Burberry, 17/09, London Fashion Week
It's the dawn of a new era at Burberry. With the constant shuffle of designers and houses, you get the feeling Riccardo Tisci is in this for the long haul. He stayed at Givenchy for 12 years, and his debut Burberry show seemed an extensive, deeply calculated reset. He called it Kingdom: showing pieces designed to cater to every gender and every age, heralding a return to classic luxury many interpreted as dry. It certainly left you wondering what's to come – signs point to an exciting reign.
Versace, 21/09, Milan Fashion Week
Turns out this was the last Versace show before Michael Kors Holdings, priming itself to become the first American luxury conglomerate and changing its name to Capri Holdings, bought the company. Reports on the acquisition discuss Versace's growth potential. Donatella took to Instagram to assure fans that the house will remain proudly Italian and under her direction. Still, it will be interesting to see where this move takes the house. The latest season of American Crime Story:The Assassination of Giani Versace, was a reminder of how the late Versace valued his company's autonomy. It was also a reminder of his unwavering faith in his sister.
Maison Margiela, 26/09, Paris Fashion Week
John Galliano conjured a throwback to gender nonconforming characters of the 1980s – a reminder that Gen Z didn't invent the notion of gender fluidity. Not that this collection felt nostalgic. There was a bit of an avant-garde workwear vibe, most exciting in Galliano's investigation into the idea of the unfinished where his clothes seemed to suggest unfinished business and an unfinished narrative. This is good news if you're among the fans eager for more.
Dries van Noten, 26/09, Paris Fashion Week
Finally, a strong collection for women who hate it when people call them tannie. They're somewhere above the millennial age bracket, searching for intelligently designed clothes for work and play. Van Noten's talent lies in his ability to produce pieces that have as much beauty and style relevance as a collection aimed at the Gen Z market, but that will slot into the lives of a far more experienced shopper. Reviews from the show confirm: they'll be lining up to buy.
Rick Owens, 27/09, Paris Fashion Week
The show took place just as Dr. Christine Ford gave her testimony against Brett Kavanaugh. The models marched around a large burning structure inspired by Tatlin's Tower, a constructivist design by Russian architect Vladimir Tatlin that was never built. The Rick Owens woman is a warrior, there's no doubt about that. Though the show may seem somehow removed from reality in its apocalyptic tone, it's the ways in which it seemed to sync with the current state of women's rights that was truly frightening and brilliant.
Celine, 28/09, Paris Fashion Week
Essays can and will be written on designer Hedi Slimane's Celine debut. For the sake of this story, let's keep it simple and just explain why the majority of the fashion world was so upset. Céline, as it was called before Slimane, had attained somewhat of a cult following under designer Phoebe Philo whose influence has echoed throughout fashion and art in general. The house was a sanctuary for a modern cultured feminist – bold in it's sporty elegance. Many an eyebrow was raised at Slimane's appointment as designer, but perhaps only the most cynical would have expected what he ended up showing: a seamless continuation of his pervious design work at Saint Laurent, as if on pause from 2016. It completely disregarded the legacy of the house and the taste of its fans. The success of this radical change will only become apparent with time, and sales reports.
Loewe, 28/09, Paris Fashion Week
There's a yearning for human touch in fashion today – to move away from toxic mass production. The idea of craft and keepsakes were big on the Spring 2019 runways, often interpreted by designers as summer holiday fantasies. Loewe's JW Anderson balanced the resort wear with more sensible pieces woman can wear every day. A perfect balance.
Valentino, 30/09, Paris Fashion Week
Another significant theme in the Spring 2019 collections is a haute couture design sensibility, presumably implemented by designers as a reaction to the age of athleisure. It follows that one of the most brilliant couture designers showing today, Pierpaolo Piccioli, would make use of this aesthetic for his ready-to-wear, and bring down the house. It was a celebration of style with the perfect doses of drama and optimism – the kind of thing that makes you smile.