On the day that Paris fashion paid tribute to the late great Karl Lagerfeld, designers festooned the men’s catwalk collections with flowers.
Virgil Abloh took over one of the French capital’s most picturesque squares for his Louis Vuitton show and urged a digitally “oversaturated” world to drop its smartphones and “smell the roses”.
It was quite a declaration for a creator who seems to spend half his life teasing his four million followers on Instagram with his latest genius ideas.
On the historic Place Dauphine, a stone’s throw from the label’s studios, the American cut loose with his idea of “boyhood bliss” with models carrying kites, red balloons and bundles of wild flowers.
Vuitton-clad street vendors handed out crepes with Nutella and champagne, and the square’s cafes, bookshop and park benches got a Vuitton rebrand.
The makeover even extended to Louis Vuitton tablecloths and ashtrays.
Only 24 hours before, the first black American to lead a major Paris house had filled a converted market with a field of white carnations for his own label, Off White.
Abloh seems to be channelling Lagerfeld’s famously decadent Paris fashion shows at the Grand Palais, where a star-studded group of his friends and colleagues gathered to remember to the “Kaiser” Thursday, four months after his death aged 85.
– ‘Smell the roses’ –
“Stopping to smell the roses de-programmes the mind and makes new space for freedom of thought,” Abloh insisted, in this age “oversaturated with views and visual data”.
The designer adorned his pastel-toned Vuitton spring summer collection with sprays of wild flowers — but he was sparing with them in keeping with label’s classy casual tradition.
Belgium’s Dries van Noten, however, went floral fantastic, sowing his flowery prints into more than three quarters of his hugely impressive collection that he insisted was “cocky, feral, flashy… and virile to the max.”
The Flemish “king of prints” sewed sequin petals onto a killer white denim jacket and a more formal black one, before delivering a lesson in tailoring with a line of eight-button, double-breasted suits and flowing navy coats that brought to mind the graphic novel hero, Corto Maltese.
Tucked at the waist, Van Noten added a double back pleat to many of his more formal jackets, overcoats and trenchcoats.
– Miyake’s maypole –
The rich colour palette the designer often borrows from Flemish Old Master paintings was cut with leopard, tiger and zebra print trousers, shirts and bags.
Issey Miyake also treated fashionistas to a midsummer celebration of Nature, with the label’s typically loose and comfy clothes done in blocks of bright primary colours.
Models skipped around a maypole in the gardens of the Place des Vosges — the oldest planned square in the French capital — or danced to a band of drummers or played football.
Acrobats showed just how forgiving the brand’s pleated creations are by doing body flips under the trees.
There was not a blade of grass in sight at the relentlessly urban avant-gardist Rick Owens’ highly personal show, which he conceived as a riposte to US President Donald Trump’s “fixtion on a border wall”.
Yet the half-Mexican maverick — who specialises in a post-apocalyptic LA vibe — dedicated his show to the California-based and United Farm Workers union, whose Aztec eagle symbol appeared throughout the darkly glamorous rock chic collection.
The son of “an Anglo father who worked as a translator for Mexican migrant farm workers” in southern California, Owens said he and his indigenous Mexican mother “learned English together when she started taking me to nursery school.”
He called the show “Tecuatl” after his grandmother’s Mixtec name, and had three Mexican drummers hammer out Aztec ceremonial music to a Nahuatl chant which ended, “This life song you have laid out yourself like flowers…”
Flowers are not Vetements’ Demna Gvasalia’s thing. The Georgian bad boy genius of the Paris scene is too damn worldly for all that, taking the clothes of minimum-wage proles and selling them back to the rich, with an ironic wink of course.
He staged his show in a branch of McDonald’s on the Champs Elysees, with a model in an “I love Paris (Hilton)” T-shirt and another in one that declared in Arabic, French and English, “Don’t shoot.”
Others wore security guard garb with “For Rent” signs on their back, or oversized nylon fast-food server shirts with a handwritten “Capitalism” sticker on the pocket.
The designer, who also heads Balenciaga, had fun hijacking logos for Heineken beer, Dominos pizzas, Adidas (made to look like a marijuana leaf) and Bose, which he gleefully pointed out means angry or evil in German.
Gvasalia also added new twists to his now classic blue striped shirts, biker leathers pants, thigh-high boots and scarf dresses, creating one new one which had skirts as sleeves.