by Eugene Rabkin

"Paris, France - Live, reporting from another mixed season, which is better than reporting from a bad one, and pretty good as far as things go in fashion these days. As I got to Paris the buzz went something like, “Wow, creative fashion was shown in Milan,” referencing the Bottega Veneta show, where Daniel Lee, formerly of Celine, showed a hard-edged collection, avoiding the customary Milanese triangle of glam/kitsch/camp. Pigs also fly. Also, old favorites disappoint. But that’s fashion - it’s fickle, and even diehard fans must recognize that things change. It still seems that the most important question today is who will be the new old Celine, since the new Celine gets sadder with each season. Jil Sander seems to be the top contender. Also, streetwear, at least for women, seems to be finally over. Also, not a single pair of Balenciaga Triple S amongst the Paris show attendees. This is how hype dies - quickly, but not before cashing in, so don’t expect that to change.

My first show was that of Dries Van Noten - a decidedly un-hype designer. The show’s invite was plain gray, confident in its monochromatism. So were the first five or so looks that he sent down the runway - powerful, assured without being cocky. It was refreshing and strong and unexpected, until the expected kicked in. It ain’t no Dries without flowers, and sometimes only he can give the flora the treatment it deserves. This wasn’t one of these times, but it was still a collection worth seeing. I loved the patent leather platform shoes with rubber-coated bottoms, that offset too much sweetness; it’s the Dries I love - the one who can throw in a little kink curveball so deadpan that most people will totally miss it because they are too busy looking at the roses.

At Ann Demeulemeester the next day the show felt tired. My hopes were up after an excellent men’s collection Sebastian Meunier presented in January, but they were shattered after a dozen or so shapeless dresses that trailed on the floor. I wouldn’t mind a couple of them, but one after another they looked lifeless, and those made of cotton jersey simply looked cheap - even the clever styling could not save them. The large hats perhaps were meant to detract the eye, but they only highlighted the inadequacy of what was shown below them. The monastic tailoring Meunier presented in a handful of looks was great - he could have easily made an entire collection out of such a visually rich theme. I didn’t even mind the shiny peach jacquard - it was levels above the sad cotton jersey. One things is clear - the Ann Demeulemeester label needs a reboot, and I am not sure where it will come from.

I love auteurs - I promise one day I will write an article about this - and Rick Owens reminded us all again that he is an auteur par excellence when he presented the women’s version of the Larry collection, dedicated to the Filipino-American designer Larry LeGaspi. It was a phenomenal show - full of energy from start to finish, from the music to the make-up and of course the clothes. In the fashion world Rick Owens is now left peerless to fly the freak flag - and he never flies it at half-mast. While other designers occassinsaly dabble in freakness, which only makes them look more fake - Owens owns it. And while others use freaks as props in their spectacles and discard them when they are no longer needed, Owens has made a home for them and has given them a high-level platform to express themselves. So it was with the Instagram famous Salvia, who did the prosthetic makeup for this show. So it is with the late LeGaspi, whom Owens is resurrecting this fall with a book he is publishing with Rizzoli. The fashion crowd loves Rick’s freak the way it likes the animals at the zoo or Buddhist monks - just another form of entertainment and tourism. Owens knows this and doesn’t care. He will do what he does and more power to him. I sorely wish more designers were invested in their work the way Owens is. Fashion would infinity benefit from it. And, yes, the clothes were there to back up his talent - the severe coats with padded or rounded pagoda shoulders, the in your face platform boots, the sexy body suits. I hate the whole empowerment through sex cliche, but the women who stomped down the runway looked nothing if not empowered."

Full report on SZ-Mag