What brought us together this year ? If not together, did fashion at least bring us closer to each other ? Let’s just say that 2020 proved us something we knew all along: the world is sad. But there’s beauty in sadness and sadness brings us together as it inspires creativity. With no proper fashion week since March (and probably not until June 2021) New York, Milan, London and Paris all lost something, but not the urge to create, to innovate and to grow. It gave opportunity for younger talents to show their collections without being
shadowed by multi-millions-euros corporate shows.
Take your seat, finish your conversations, the lights are fading, the music starts, unfold your legs, take your eyes off the phone and put them onto… another screen or, for some joyful cases, onto a live runway. In any case, the show is starting.
Jean Paul Gaultier
January 23rd, Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris.
It was L’Enfant Terrible final bow. Nous avons rit et pleuré. Imagine being 20 years old in a mythical theatre filled with legends, seeing more than 200 looks in a 1hour + show, hearing Boy George, seeing Mylène Farmer. Sat in front of you were Nicolas Ghesquiere, Miss Fame, Mika, Christian Louboutin, Carla Bruni, Dries Van Noten, Christine and the Queens, Kim Petras, Isabel Marant, Dite Von Teese, Béatrice Dalle. With models like Karlie Kloss, Gigi & Bella Hadid, Winnie Harlow strutting the runway. Unreal. But was there a bigger legend in this room than Gaultier Himself? Well, maybe his creations. The show started with Boy George singing Amy’s Back to Black as everyone’s heart started to melt.
Not getting every reference or understanding fully the show’s narrative, I, still, was in awe, my heart was racing as I felt the overwhelming energy in the room and understood the importance of this day. The year began with a goodbye, one of many we were gonna see in the then-starting year. But the adieu was joyful, like Gaultier’s career, it was bold, long, and fun. As we danced all night after this party, I could not help but feel my heart aching. I had experienced my first loss in fashion.
February 25th, Palais de Tokyo, Paris.
Covid had not yet reached France, but it was imminent. One of those reasons was that fashion insiders were massively coming from Milan, where the situation was out of hand. Last show of the day, the first day of a weird fashion week, where an atmosphere of fear and incertitude floated around us. We forgot it all as Kenneth opened Paris Fashion Week. What we were about to witness was history. We didn’t know it at the time but it would be one of the only shows of the year that would bring us diversity, inclusivity, and good vibes. Yes. Naomi Campbell stormed on the runway in a rage because, as some heard, she was told she couldn’t smoke backstage. But on the catwalk, she was elegant and paid respect to Kenneth’s creations. The room was on fire. Paris learned about Nigerian Fashion as we all precociously thought it was an amazing start to a beautiful week and maybe, just maybe, a beautiful year.
Sunday morning, March 2nd, Paris.
In an arena filled with water, the first rows were flooded. The show had not even started that you could feel the shivers down your spine. The world is ending. Before the phenomenal rise of the pandemic in Occident, Balenciaga predicted it. If not ending, the world will never be the same. Demna Gvasalia sent people down the runway. Well, models portraying people but still, there were footballers, singers, priests, party animals, bikers. Some were even wearing sweatsuits with AirPods, a tragic premonitory glimpse at what would be nearly everyone’s daily life a few weeks later. This bric à brac summoned what Demna knew all along. The world is for everyone, everyone that needs beauty to feel better but… not everyone will make it. As a reflection of the birds fleeing away covered the catwalk, Demna’s vision left an eerie feeling to everyone who had the chance to witness it. Fashion has not been the same since. One for the books.
Covid seemed to slow down as Kidsuper said Everything is fake until it’s real. An instinct that screamed something between “we should have known” and “we CAN force ourselves to be happy”. As their first time on Paris’s fashion week official schedule, Kidsuper had to find a way to be impactful without been physical. Colm Dillane understood right away that, as fashion weeks became virtual, it became less about money than about creativity. Some bathrobe featured dancing couples prints, because fashion is for everyone, everywhere. It is football just like it is couture. It is Brooklyn in Paris. It is Jackie Chan, Kanye West, Freddie Mercury, the Obamas, Salvador Dalí, and Bernie Sander, all sitting front row of his stop motion show (in Play-Doh, it’s called claymation). So powerful that even Moschino (kind of) did the same for its SS21 collection.
July 29th, Circuit Paul Ricard, France.
Has nowadays teenagers ever seen a fashion show IRL? Have they seen an auto racing IRL? They most certainly haven’t. But who cares? Will they even know that this show is the most transgressive thing a fashion designer has done this year? No. Because Hedi Slimane, here, makes a gift to the millennials, the TikTok stars, maybe the Instagram influencer, the LA singer, and pretty much everyone who doesn’t care anymore (but does deep down).
At this time of the year, the world pretty much survived the first wave of COVID 19 and is now trying to find back what they left in March. It is impossible. The past is the past. Kids are now playing, they don’t care about norms, boys wear skirts and nail polish, they dye their hair red, green, or blue and they’re not scared of bringing back skinny jeans. What is gender? What is the size? What is old? What is LA? What is Paris? It’s all blending. Slimane is kind enough to give us a vision, because lets’ be honest, what teenager is gonna buy a 1500€ cardigan? He gives us his vision of the youth, for the youth to reinterpret. It’s colorful, it’s happy and it’s fresh. There’s a heat-wave in Paris and I am in love.
September 22nd, London, UK.
A lookbook. One short film. 19 looks, a utopia called PETALS. As London was starting to lighten its COVID 19 restrictions, Charlotte Knowles and Alex Arsenault proposed comfortable, positive yet stylish clothes. The colors are brighter than usual because we fucking need it. Between leather corsets and whip, coats were flower references. Flower Power as they called it. Flowers to bring us together, flowers as a thank you for staying six feet away, flowers to check if we lost our sense of smell. Charlotte Knowles offers a look back at a more normal life, not a few months back, but 25 years ago, a future nostalgia of femininity that evokes a time when MTV didn’t suck. We felt good.
September 23rd, Milan, Italy.
This collection was pure nostalgia of a very summery spring we had to cancel. The invite included a pack of Fendi logo pasta, it presumed the collection was going to be light, intimate, and summery. And indeed, it was. In front of a few guests, the clothes were about a moment in time. And what a fucking moment.
Happening just before the second wave of Covid and the second round of lockdown. The show referenced life in quarantine in a subtle and poetic way. The six first looks set the tone as they featured window prints, yes, we spent hours looking outside our apartments, sometimes clapping, sometimes smoking, sometimes trying to connect with neighbors. Silvia Venturini Fendi must have done the same in her mansion. I remember going out during lockdown to find flowers or plants, to bring a bit of life in my small Parisian apartment. Maybe I’m Fendi after all. Or at least Fendi with Panzani pasta.
October 1st, Palazzo del Casino, Venice, Italy.
20/20 vision. Rick Owens is commonly associated with a post-apocalyptic/dystopian world. This SS21collection called Phlegethon presented us with a 2020 vision as one of the five rivers in hell that torture souls. But Rick tells us that even in hell there’s heaven.
Rick has always tried to present his version of the world we live in with both the dark and the bright side of it. This season more than ever, beauty -in its most common sense- was showcased. Bright pinks, reds, yellow were seen on the runway, a very rare thing to witness at a Rick Owens show. Free-flowing fabrics left a trail behind models as they walked through the Casino’s forecourt. It was one of the only- if not the only- show to present models wearing masks. Yes. The most obvious feature of 2020 was only shown in this Rick Owens show. Not that dystopian after all.
October 28th, Seventh Avenue, New York.
Laugh motherf***er. As Movie Theatres just reopened in New York, Victor Barragan showed his collection in an empty venue. This may be the darkest collection in this list. Even though It is serious, Victor tells you to get out of your comfort zone. He shows bodies that are not as accepted as their white counterparts. Because, yes, there is inclusivity in runways, if you allow it. Just like the clowns he referred to, this collection actually scared me. Because it is raw. It is unfiltered and it speaks the truth. Wanting to become a US citizen, Victor stitched stars on to his designs, more patriotic than a Kentucky Redneck, but yet, not a citizen. The Suspiria inspired looks reminded me a quote from the remake of the movie in 2018 Why is everyone so ready to think the worst is over ?. I think it sums up this collection pretty well.
October 28th, Paris.
Don’t ruin my fantasy. Presented as a disrupted lookbook (with nearly every image having its own narrative), this collection actually made a lot of sense. From disorder comes order. Models were holding on their phone like they’re taking photos of themselves or others (like any millennial would do).
Referencing how Ludovic started showing his products on models (including his boyfriend) on his Instagram by taking golden-hour-lit pictures with his iPhone. Some other pictures were simply taken in front of a Parisian apartment, the further we could really go during the quarantine. Some others were taken in a studio with professional lighting, a glimpse of normality in fashion. Between black and white pictures were some colors, very subtle until look 13, 14, and 15 which featured rainbows. A lot of rain and a bit of sun is all it takes. LDSS summed up in a beautiful way my year of fashion. Take away everything, desire stays.
Written by Elias Medini (I.G. @ly.as)