Although I don’t consider myself a fashionista, and Vogue for me is more of an aesthetic guide than a Bible to swear by — still, I am not indifferent to a significant event like the Paris Fashion Week. Paris is rightly recognized as the world’s fashion capital, and does not concede this title to London, Milan or even New York.
Just as the entire city of Cannes is enveloped by the magic of cinema during its film festival, all of Paris becomes one enormous runway for the duration of Fashion Week. Perhaps fashion does not invade every home, but stylish events are unfolding in every corner of this magnificent city, whether they are features of the official runway program, showrooms, presentations or, naturally, parties. The narrow streets teem with lenses of street style photographers, hunting for the most stylish looks among international guests.
Each show is unique and memorable in its own way, but first and foremost, it’s all about the enormous budgets, each designer trying to surprise the audience with something extraordinary.
For Chanel’s prêt à porter Automne-Hiver 2017-18, Carl Lagerfeld transformed the entire Grand Palace into a space station, where the release of a new Chanel no. 5 fragrance was marked but the launch of an actual rocket. On the runway surrounding the rocket, models strutted in both retro and futuristic styles. Most of the items in the collection were tweed, checkered dresses, belted jackets and coats. The famous Chanel suit is alive and well, now presented with a metallic skirt or Bermuda shorts. As for the footwear on display this season, the glimmering and retro boots are sure to become the new object of desire for fashionistas.
Sonia Rykiel fashion house, represented by its talented director Julie de Libran, continues to create their famous striped knitwear, paying tribute to the “Queen of Knitwear” herself, who passed away last August. Julie de Libran offered the fashion house’s admirers a capsule collection of thirteen items completely recreated from the archives.
The Christian Dior show, where Rihanna was in attendance, showed off its modern line. This is Maria Gracie Curie’s second creation for the prêt-à-porter Dior collection. Maria used graphic elements in her collection, thereby returning to Dior’s design origins. Some of the highlights: a sumptuous blue hue, perfect both for the office and an evening out; the small strapless dress returns from an earlier collection, but in velvet; jackets with maxi skirts, long transparent dresses paired with leather berets — everything embodying an easy elegance and simplicity. The Italian designer favors dark colors (classic black, dark blue, occasionally denim) with touches of shimmery white. During this Fashion Week, the house also presented Mats Gustafson’s book Dior, alongside jewelry and watches. The models were presented ahead for the year, to be announced gradually at intervals. Most timepieces are one-of-a-kind and were sold out by the end of the week.
It is a matter of immense pride that the Ukrainian brand PASKAL returns to the official program of Paris Fashion Week for yet another season — an opportunity not granted to many brands. The show was held in the Nikki Diana Marquardt art gallery in the fashionable Marais district, and in fact opened Fashion Week’s official program — the first Ukrainian brand to ever do so.
PASKAL is a relatively young brand, founded in Odessa in 2010 by local architect Julie Paskal. In 2014, the brand was included in the shortlist for the LMVH Award, and has since periodically adorned the windows of the famous Parisian boutique Colette with its creations. Indeed, the owner Sarah Andelman, the daughter of the original Colette, chose to wear a PASKAL dress when she opened an installation at the Paris Museum of Decorative Art celebrating the boutique’s 20th anniversary on March 20, 2017.
In the autumn-winter 2017-18 collection, Paskal put her architectural background to use, combining athletic architectural forms with modern design innovations using light, flowing fabrics. “Bianca arrivo, bellissima!” exclaimed the delighted Italian buyers during the show. Indeed, the white, airy PASKAL dresses are so beautiful, they can be worn in any season.
Another Odessite, Masha Reva, a graduate of the prestigious Central St. Martin’s design school in London, presented her collection for Fashion Week in the Ukrainian Culture Center. Reva, a Grand-Prix recipient at the prestigious young designer contest The Pulse of New Talent by Pepsi x Vogue Italia, creates not only clothing but prints, which have been used by American designer Rachel Comeyn for a series of dresses in last year’s autumn-winter collection. Reva has also done a series of collaborations with the Ukrainian brand Syndicate.
For her Fashion Week presentation, hosted by the One Day Project, Masha chose to ignore the pressures of the fashion industry and put on a real performance. Her drawings on the bodies of young Ukrainians were demonstrated in the first issue of the One Day Project last year, but this time she expanded the format to include clothing. Practical items like coats, trousers, overalls and biker jackets are decorated in her signature thick strokes running over onto the actual bodies of the young models. A beautiful interweaving of art with the fashion industry is the very force that is moving Ukrainian fashion design forward.
Regina-Maryanovska Davidzon is Managing Editor of The Odessa Review.