Kenneth Ize opened the week with beaming optimism, while Marine Serre once
Bonjour, mes amours! Quelle merveille, Paris Fashion Week est de retour! The grande dame of fashion showcases is back, bolder and better than ever for SS22. As fashion’s travelling circus rolls into its biggest, busiest stretch, we’ll be bringing you the lowdowns on the chicest collections, live (well, almost) from the dazzling lights of la ville lumière. Alongside blurbs for our standalone reviews on the big hitters (all the tea on your Chanels, Diors and Vuittons), we’ll also be feeding you the 411 on shows and presentations by the schedule’s most exciting independent names. If you can barely contain yourself at the very thought of that, just imagine how we feel! We shan’t get too ahead of ourselves though, this is a marathon and not a sprint. Now, on your marks, get set… GO!
Opening the first fully-fledged physical Paris Fashion Week in close to two years is no mean feat and occupying that spot is quite the honour – it’s a sign of the faith and respect placed in you by the powers at the industry’s height. This season it fell to Kenneth Ize. After last season had grappled with the task of finding light amid the darkness that has plagued the past 18 months — it was rich with graphic tailoring and more earthen hues than we’d previously seen from the designer — SS22 marked a return to the more overtly optimistic timbre for which he first made his name. Fittingly titled ‘A New Dawn’, he presented 30 looks imbued with a sense of cheery lightness that buoyed the exacting structure of their silhouettes: spaghetti-strapped column dresses in gold-striped white aso oke cloth – woven in the factory he’s set up in Ilorin State, Nigeria – were trimmed with cascades of fringe; happy lurex knits came in disco-pop colours and cropped tiger stripe tunics and jumpsuits fluttered in the wake of the wearer’s walk. While it was certainly the sort of collection that would bring a smile to even the most stony-hearted of veteran editors, these weren’t just ‘happy clothes’. Rather, there was a palpable sense of calm, poise and confidence in Kenneth’s return to jollier aesthetic territories, emotions that were mirrored in the intentionally slowed pace of the models to a live performance by London-based saxophonist cktrl. MS
While for many, this season is all about the return of the IRL show, there are those designers who, over the course of the pandemic, found their niche with film. Among them is Paris’ reigning queen of eco-couture Marine Serre, who has put out some of the most meditative, arresting fashion films that we’ve seen. Ostal24, the 13-minute flick she screened last night to a live crowd at a lavish hôtel particulier in the Marais, was no exception. Offering an immersive insight into a day in the life of what felt like a Marine Serre commune, it proved that you don’t need to see models walking down a runway to really appreciate fashion. Clad in upcycled terry cloth tees, lab coats fashioned from embroidered Dutch tablecloths and tea towels, and the label’s signature regenerated stretch mesh pieces, members of the Marine Serre clan that have featured in previous seasons’ films performed ritualistic actions that ranged from the relatively mundane – communal cooking and yoga – through to the more eccentric activities of feasting on sinister-looking black goop and engaging in ecstatic dances. Quirky as that may all sound, it worked to highlight the intricacies of the garments themselves. The film’s rustic setting, for example, brought out the delicate beauty of a lace dress, while also bringing the starkness of a cinched leather coat into relief. And the dulcet blues and purples of patchwork denim blurred against swaying nettles and reeds. It was a testament not only to Marine’s capacities as a designer, but as a world-builder, too. MS