Paris Fashion Week broadens its horizons
Following New York, London and Milan, Paris will bring the marathon for the women’s Fall/Winter 2020-21 ready-to-wear collections to a close against a troubled backdrop, especially due to the coronavirus epidemic that created a panic at the weekend in Milan, leading Giorgio Armani and Laura Biagiotti to hold their shows behind closed doors with no audience. Nevertheless, the Paris Fashion Week that opens on Monday features a very rich programme, with 70 catwalk shows - they were 75 last season - and 26 presentations.
Between February 24 and March 3, all the leading labels in French luxury fashion will take to the catwalk, from Chanel to Dior, Saint Laurent, Lanvin, Margiela, Balenciaga, Hermès, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton. Over 5,000 visitors are expected in the French capital, all keen to discover the trends and novelties for the next winter season.
Alongside the leading luxury labels, a series of newer, though by now established names - the next generation in Parisian fashion - are also expected to shine, like Off-White, Koché, Marine Serre, Lemaire and others. As they do every season, a plethora of Japanese labels will also be showing their collections in Paris: Mame Kurogouchi, Anrealage, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Junya Watanabe, Comme des Garçons, Sacai, Beautiful People and Junko Shimada.
This season, a prestigious new name will join Paris’s Japanese community, Noir by Kei Ninomiya, another label spawned by the Comme des Garçons talent incubator. Ninomiya has a degree in French literature and studied at Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts, before upping sticks to join Rei Kawakubo in 2008, working as a model-maker. In 2012, he launched the Noir collection under his mentor’s aegis. Ninomiya is renowned for his sculptured artisanal constructions and for his work with materials and repetition effects. He will be showing for the first time on the official Paris calendar on Saturday February 29.
The Paris Fashion Week is constantly broadening its horizons, with a growing focus on Africa: on opening day, Monday, it will welcome Nigerian designer Kenneth Izedonmwen, showing with his label Kenneth Ize. Izedonmwen was one of the eight finalists of the LVMH Prize 2019, and his collection will also feature at the Sphere showroom. Born in Lagos, Izedonmwen grew up in Vienna, where he graduated at the University of Applied Arts before returning to his native Nigeria, where he founded Kenneth Ize in 2016. His colourful, destructured style blends African craftsmanship with a contemporary fashion vision.
More African fashion features in the programme with the presentation of the collection by South African designer Thebe Magugu, winner of the LVMH Prize 2019, also at the Sphere showroom, and on February 25 with the first, off-calendar show by Nigerian designer Idris Balogun for his label Winnie. Balogun was born in New York, grew up in London and worked at Burberry and Tom Ford before starting his solo career in 2018.
As for emerging French labels, the spotlights will be trained on the show by Coperni, the label that Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant relaunched successfully last year. After two seasonal presentations, Coperni will stage its debut catwalk show on Tuesday February 25. It is an absolute first for the designer duo, which never showed even during Coperni's first active phase, between its inception in 2013 and 2015.
The other label set for a maiden Paris Fashion Week show on the official calendar is Gauchere, showing on Tuesday March 3. The Parisian ready-to-wear label, distinctive for its minimalist style, was founded by German designer Marie-Christine Statz, who grew up in Düsseldorf. After graduating at the Parsons School of Design in New York, and studying at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, Statz cut her teeth at Narciso Rodriguez and Diane von Furstenberg, before launching her own label in 2013.
Another eagerly awaited show will be Kenzo’s, on Wednesday February 26. The label is making its Parisian catwalk come-back under new creative director Felipe Oliveira Baptista, who will unveil his first collection for Kenzo. Valentin Yudashkin, who will show on March 3, will also be making his come-back after a two-season absence.
These four new names and two come-backs will partly compensate this season’s loss of 11 labels, of which no fewer than four are due to the coronavirus epidemic. The problems, chiefly in terms of logistics, caused by the standstill which most business activity has been brought to in China, forced six Chinese labels to drop out. Among them, Masha Ma, Shiatzy Chen, Uma Wang and Jarel Zhan, all featured on the official show programme. Some of them, like Uma Wang, will nevertheless present their collections in a showroom.
The FHCM will put into place a specific framework on its social and digital channels for the designers unable to show or present. While visitors coming from Asia will be unable to attend the fashion week, the federation has planned to livestream "on social media, including Weibo and Douyin, the shows and presentations of any labels registered on the official calendars who so wish (for the FHCM to do so)," thus following in the steps of Milan Fashion Week which successfully implemented the same scheme.
Rahul Mishra will stage a presentation and not a show, as the label now shows during the Haute Couture week. Courrèges will give this season a miss. The French label is without a creative director, following Yolanda Zobel’s departure after three seasons in charge.
Manish Arora has opted for a new presentation format. “We decided to produce a video and a photo shoot for the new collection, and they will both be released by email on February 27. It’s a different mode of expression. It’s more exciting to plan a statement event than to show the collection in five minutes, without giving the audience the chance to fully appreciate it,” the Indian designer told FashionNetwork.com. Arora promised to be back on the Parisian calendar next September with a “genuine show-performance.”
Other absentees this season are Afterhomework, Cédric Charlier and the alternative London label by Chinese designer Yang Li. Korean label Moon Young Hee, not featured on the official programme for the last few seasons, will continue to show off-calendar. Aalto, the label by Finnish designer Tuomas Merikoski, dropped out of the calendar last September, and won’t be back this season.
It will be yet another very intense Paris Fashion Week however, with several parallel events, a plethora of presentations and some 20 off-calendar shows. Among the highlights, the relaunch of Hervé L. Leroux and the show by Guy Laroche, heralded as an unprecedented performance. Also, the screening, for a few sessions exclusively during the Paris Fashion Week, of the ‘Colette Mon Amour’ documentary film, chronicling the last six months in business of the renowned Parisian concept store.
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