You cannot rekindle a life, but you can light it up with your love, with your talent. What Paris has offered us this season – what this city has made crackle – is this joy. The feeling that after all these months buried, the colour fading, that life is springing up. Magnetised by raw sensibilities; united by the same passion; guided by the same momentum. By offering a tribute to Alber Elbaz, organised by AZ Factory at the Carreau du Temple, forty couturiers and creators, as well as his entire studio team, proved that this party had a meaning – a history, a past, a present, a future. In the aftermath of the gigantic Facebook Instagram WhatsApp blackout, the final evening of Paris Fashion Week imposed itself as the parade of all parades: a feast of beauty, colours, feelings, with a stage, an audience, and this shower of red paper hearts. We went in full of tears, we came out drunk with the sweet, pink happiness of childhood, a score of love.
“The theatre returns human tenderness to men,” said set designer Louis Jouvet and accomplice of artist Christian Bérard, whose incubator role was played by the Petit Théâtre de la Mode. It is in the bowels of a shared history that fashion takes flight. And Paris is its living, moving encyclopaedia.
This season, designers proved to be inspired curators; in Milan, Donatella Versace and Kim Jones at Fendi had already given the impression that something was opening up. Next, Paris launched into this post-ego era, transforming the “I” into us, to better celebrate a form of singularity together. On the fringes of the clones smoothed by their applications, of these digitized existences, Paris has the gift of giving back to the characters their first names. To the tribes their idols; to the muses their poets; to the night its stars. Fashion brings this back to the stage with its parties, and appearances; with this capacity to come together while remaining distinct; to give a physical meaning to the word community. A community of talents united by their difference, their desire to transform this ephemeral space that is the season into a sort-of itinerant home where family portraits that had been taken down return, reframed in light. “I like to think of memory as a reservoir of optimism,” says Thebe Magugu, who celebrated his mother and aunt in his “Genealogy” collection. Paloma Picasso (for Anthony Vaccarello at Yves Saint Laurent), Marc Bohan (for Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior), and even Karl Lagerfeld (for Virginie Viard at Chanel), embody these presences that fashion makes visible, in the name of the link, the exchange, the elective affinities. Those that Daniel Roseberry at Schiaparelli enhances as reinterpretation without parody. And let’s not leave out the exhibitions: both Jean Paul Gaultier at the Cinémathèque Française and Thierry Mugler in “Couturisissime” mode at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs still bear witness to this passion.
What Paris tells us is that fashion is expressed first in an outline; that a set of impressions and sensations becomes the map of an imaginary land; that interrupted conversations resume as if they had stopped a minute earlier. Everything that the crisis has contained, the imagination makes visible. It’s there in Kevin Germanier’s chromatic; explosive creations, the reminiscences of Victor Wainsanto’s tulle; the thousand-and-one shades of beige from Benjamin Benmoyal – and all those who put matter back at the heart of a story. Silky whispers, golden flashes, voices that nothing can extinguish, the intensity of these looks, this fire that nothing can ever extinguish. LB
“Drawing was like taking a plane to an unknown destination. I wasn’t drawing a skirt and blouse, but the story of a woman who made me dream. Fabrics don’t inspire me, even the ones my mother buys. Tell me a story and I can start creating. Then it’s off to the workshops. When a cake is in the oven, you have to stand next to it until it’s done. Otherwise it might burn. You also have to stay in the workshops, with the people who make the clothes, until the end. –Aber Elbaz.