Paris Fashion Week Wednesday: Dries Van Noten, The Row and Nehera
One of greatest qualities of Paris Fashion Week is the sheer depth of variety on display, ranging in one day from the high-color printing, grand brocades and delicate embroidery of Dries Van Noten to the mono-color elegance of The Row and the rigor of Nehera. All catering to very different women in the space of three hours.
Dries Van Noten: Faux vintage secret elegance
Dries took his audience to a novel setting, inside a famous geodesic dome in south Paris famous for concerts and not runway shows.
The result was the ideal scene for his latest collection, a cunning collection of faux-vintage fabrics and exotic detailing on fabrics that were, in fact, all brand new. The models zig zagging down from the top of the theatre along five levels of catwalks, their whole progress apparent on a giant acrylic mirror on the stage.
Deliberately, everything looked just a little thrown together, but the result was frequently magical. Blending all sorts of masculine elements – chalk stripes, bankers double-breasted blazers, band-leader tuxedos – with hyper-feminine flourishes – chiffon dresses, delicate gold thread and rather magical embroidery.
“The restoration of fabrics has become increasingly important. So I wanted to look like that even if the fabrics we used are actually new,” winked Dries, in a post-show chat.
“I liked the idea that some clothes become part of your personality and if you stop wearing them you lose something of your personality,” he added.
Classic coats made of hand-painted woven fabrics, or even dipped in gold. Blended with flimsy little skirts, with little flowers painted on. Gray herringbone wool coats, which on the inside have secret floral silk prints. Embroideries varied from voluptuous metallic swirls, to little touches around the buttonholes. Handwoven devoré silk dresses, again hand-painted over -- quirky, yet classy.
Like in his menswear show in January, the soundtrack was by an amazing Belgian drummer named Lander, whose array of drums and percussion instruments, made it seem he was in a space capsule.
“What I love about Lander is that when he plays the drums, he becomes part of them. It’s one whole new thing together. Which is what I wanted to achieve with the clothes, that they become part of the girls who actually wear them. Just one identity – clothes and personality,” Dries added.
The Row: Purity in a Paris mansion
Purity is what The Row will always be about, reducing fashion to the essential. Using only the finest of products and letting the materials do their talking for you.
Pure, too, was the location where sister designers Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen chose to present their collection - inside a pristine, unadorned late 18th-century mansion around the corner from Place de la Concorde.
Devoid of any prints, but made of the creamiest cashmere imaginable, the key to the collection was the grand draping. Coats swirling around each model; blankets were thrown over many shoulders. Eventually, the coats, blankets and ponchos, began an interaction which led them to gradually becoming one.
Cut with wide shoulders and low waistlines, the elongated coats reached all the way to the checkered marble floor of the upstairs landing. All anchored by transparent slippers or gents moccasins. And, just when it felt too precious and bundled up, out came a refined trio of linear, off-the-shoulders dresses worn with knotted Doges hats that suggested The Row gal had romantic nocturnal ideas.
Tender, yet nomadic, and made in a dark palette of tobacco, black and battleship gray, the clothes had all the poise that one has come to expect from the Row. A moody moment expressed in the soundtrack Bella Lagosi’s Dead by Bauhaus.
No bow from The Row sisters, who disappeared into a firmly closed downstairs backstage seconds after the last model had exited. Discreet, just like their fashion.
Nehera: Less is much more
Monochromatic fashion and tailoring with twist at Nehera, a subtle marque which is winning admirers in Paris and elsewhere.
The house was launched in the 1930s in Prague, withered under Communism, before being reborn in 2014. Now, an independent Slovak brand, Nehera is all about functional comfort. Pants are cut forgivingly large, billowing shirts have big panel pockets and blazers hang loose around the torso.
The beauty is in the details: from the gray flannel shirt jackets, where the buttoned patch pockets sit off the shirts just slightly, or the front buttons end after three and are replaced by a plaquette; or the natty blazer/dresses in midnight black, buttoned and also tied nonchalantly at the waist.
All made by artisans in what once was Czechoslovakia, especially in Prostejov, the apparel manufacturing center, where founder Jan Nehera was born.
“Remove lines that diminish flow, strip down any silhouette to its essence. Dispense with excess. Correct shapes to enhance rhythm,” admonished the brand in the program note.
Nobody took a bow at the end of this show. But, at least Nehera’s design studio live up to its own dictums in this collection.
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