THEATRICALITY IN FASHION
The last three shows I attended were real spectacular, creating a dreamworld for us, buyers, press, guests and friends. The spectacle carried us in the world of the designer or in the world that the designer wants us to remember, maybe more than the clothes of the Autumn/Winter 2016 menswear collection showed in Paris. Here I remember Caroline Evans chapter “Spectacle” in her book Fashion at the Edge. On page 67 she says:
Following [Guy] Debord’s description of the society of the spectacle, the fashion show is a self-absorbed, or narcissistic, ‘spectacle unto itself’ locked into its own world, self regarding, sealed in the show space of the runway, with its attendant protocols and hierarchies.
This is the feeling I had while watching three shows: Dries van Noten at the Palais Garnier, Dior Homme at a remote location in a tennis club, and finally Thom Browne in a kind of hall far outside of the centre of Paris, where he built the most alien and theatrical performance of the fashion week. While Dries Van Noten gave us a present returning our love for him and his collections, Dior transported stars, actors and musicians in a kind of bulb of glamour for the rich and beautiful, watching a collection that is quiet realistic as approach. Thom Browne’s experience had the most impact on myself and on fashion lovers (coming from Japan), because it was intriguing, poetic, nostalgic and then fascinating. Again I report the book of Caroline Evans, and I start remembering the third part about Trauma, Dereliction, Exploration and Modernity. While the three shows were of course meant to point to the future, there were many references to the past, to memory, decay and imagery haunting the past. To end this week of excitement with Tom Browne’s performance brought me in a mood of destabilisation. From underground to glamour, from de-construction to decay, from product to concept, I have been bombarded by designers from different generations with imagery and messages composed of different layers and visions. I conclude this emotional and very intense week reflecting on what the spectacle of fashion will bring us in the coming months. I have the feeling that menswear is more and more conceptual and more and more open for experimentation, while womenswear is too much linked to the body and its languages.
For sure fashion will always be able to transport us in its dream world. Reality is different: the appeal of the garment, the space where and how the garment is displayed and the online shopping evolution are of course the counterpoint of the emotions of this week. For the moment I still enjoy the encounters, the friendship, the community, the exclusive dinners and the soundtracks of all those shows. I only regret that so many of you are not able to experience those moments of intense creativity.