PARIS — For all the talk of new generations and upstart millennials dictating the agenda these days, the fashion establishment is awfully — how to put this? — mature.
For every Bruno Sialelli, 31, who will have his debut here for Lanvin on Wednesday or Daniel Lee, 32, who last week showed his first collection for Bottega Veneta in Milan, the majority of the big brands are dominated by designers well into middle age, and beyond. Sometimes quite far beyond.
Partly in recognition of this situation, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 2013 introduced its Young Designers Prize, the richest, and most public, search for new fashion talent. Now, the first day of Paris Fashion Week is dominated by some of its winners: Rokh, designed by Rok Hwang, who won a special prize last year; Jacquemus, by Simon Porte Jacquemus, who won a special jury prize in 2015; and Marine Serre, who won the main award in 2017.
The winners generate a lot of buzz. Yet sometimes it’s hard to tell if that’s a product of sheer wishful thinking — a desperation to believe renewal is coming — or actual merit.
It’s a bit early to judge Rokh, the brand that was the subject of the most chat on Day 1 (it’s fully in the Vetements/Sacai/Margiela vein of de- and reconstructed trench coats, floral dresses and frumpy work suits, plus some clear vinyl).
Mr. Jacquemus, the self-crowned bard of the sun-kissed Croisette, is in a transition phase, chafing against the box he built himself and trying to expand into tailoring, though the flaps he added to skirts and jackets were more distracting than delighting. His accessories, on the other hand — bags macro and very micro, earrings with clips to hold hankies or postcards — were clever.
But Ms. Serre, who imagined a post-climate-change apocalyptic landscape populated by survivors deep in a green- and lavender-lit series of wine caverns on the outskirts of Paris — she clearly has a vision all her own, and it has both currency and electricity. If the road warrior and his ilk suddenly got their own couturier, this is what their wardrobes would look like.
Beautifully sculpted coats hung with deep ruffs and cuffs of fake fur in unnatural shades; moiré pit-crew suits; off-the-shoulder duvet cocktail dresses; bias gowns composed of a rainbow of fabric ends; little black dresses dangling old mussel shells and found objects — all connected the techniques and tropes that defined fashion’s past with the issues that are shaping its present, and they did so in perfectly judged balance.
Rarely has doomsday been so inspiring.
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