November 10 2022
Junya Watanabe’s return to Paris was met again with critical acclaim. Watanabe’s models wore punchy wigs and strutted to Spanish classic pop music artist, Duran Duran. Watanabe was clearly inspired by the 80s, yet by his hand - the collection looked nothing like anything we have seen before. Junya Watanabe is now an older head designer among his peers. Born in 1961, Watanabe has a similar youthful perspective to legendary designer Rei Kawabuko. Initially, Watanabe was the star pupil and protege of ReI Kawabuko before Kawabuko appointed Watanabe as second in command. The two share a similar undying work ethic, as Watanabe continues to hold four shows per year in Paris and Japan. Born in Fukushima, Watanabe attended the esteemed Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo. Noticed by Kawabuko for his work as a student, Watanabe immediately began his apprenticeship at Comme Des Garcons as a pattern-maker. In 1993, Watanabe began his eponymous luxury fashion brand, “Junya Watanabe Comme Des Garçons". Watanabe’s early work is appreciated by fans for its celebration of techno-orientalism. Leveraging experimental fabrics and innovative shapes, Watanabe's distinct style led to his growing prominence in menswear fashion. Eventually, Watanabe would go on to lead Kawabuko’s first official foray into mens focused design, Comme Des Garcons Homme.
At Paris Fashion Week 23, Junya Watanabe spliced vintage racing jackets from Honda, McLaren, and Bates. Models wore chopped up Levi’s denim with fishnet tights and oversized boots. Leather biker jackets has been a common trend this Paris Fashion Week, however Watanabe’s upcycled use of motorsport jackets made his take on the theme refreshing and distinct. Watanabe’s collection also featured loose and flowing trench coats that were sewn with business pattern fabric that struck a interesting dynamic between office appropriate materials and abstract forms. Oversized flowing blazers were contrasted with tight leggings splashed with vibrant colours including bright pink and lime green. Models walked with fantastically coloured wigs, uniquely shaped in forms that saw spikey, chopped, and wavy looks. Junya adorned these models with pearl jewelry that is layered, long, and intersecting. The fabric tecy sneakers and leather boots were also adorned with these pearls. In some pieces from the collection, the sneaker laces were untied and the threads bounced around with the loose pearl chains as the models confidently walked the runway. For Paris Fashion Week 23, Junya Watanabe created a modern tribute to the 80’s. In some ways, Watanabe played it safe and succeeded in creating a cohesive collection that fit the universe of Watanabe’s design language. Next year, it would be exciting to see Watanabe pay a tribute toward the future with truly innovative and unique influences.
November 4 2022
Loewe is a Spanish luxury fashion house headquartered in Madrid. Founded in 1846 by leather craftsman Enrique Loewe, the label is nearing its 200th anniversary. Regular regal customers included Queen Victoria Eugene and King Alfonso XIII who granted Loewe with a royal warrant appointment for the house to become the official purveyor of the Royal Household of Spain. Ernest Hemingway is among many historical fans and promoters of Loewe. In 1986, Loewe became the first brand to be purchased by LVMH, which is now the most valuable company in Europe at a valuation of $329 billion.
Loewe took an expressive and modern approach to looks from the Paris fashion week 2023 collection. Bending reality and leveraging perspective, Loewe nods to video game inspired pixel are to create innovative garments that truly appear like two dimensional sprite art and rendered bitmaps. Creative director Jonathan Anderson was appointed in 2013. In a decade since his appointment, Anderson work has become well suited to the history of Loewe. Anderson is a skilled and intricate leather craftsman who can carry Loewe’s historically iconic leatherwork toward innovative and future facing designs. For womenswear, Anderson leveraged tactile details including knotting, patch working, void space cutouts, and embossed leather. These adornments are painted in bright colours, contrasting the earthy tones of the overall fabrics chosen for the collection.
While Loewe is the oldest luxury fashion house among LVMH, it doesn’t feel the most out of touch. Jonathan Anderson is the founder of popular luxury fashion house, JW Anderson. Anderson was born northern Irish, and founded his eponymous label in 2008. LVMH now also has a minority steak in JW Anderson.
October 29 2022
Rick Owens once again held his Paris Fashion Week show at the Palais de Tokyo, a venue that consistently contrasts his collections. The white marble adorned with carved flowers and tall monoliths strikes a poetic discourse betwen the gothic and dark looks from Owen’s collection. Rick Owens does not choose the obvious answer, despite having such cohesion in his work. A dark and foggy indoor space would surely be the obvious choice for Rick Owen’s dark collection. This is not to say that Rick avoids these ideas. A scented and eerie smog did roll through the open halls of Palais de Tokyo - the scent coming from Owen’s new collaboration with Aesop. In the past, Owens has created tall wooden structures that he proceeds to light aflame as models walk by. This year it was water. A fifty foot jet of water shot into the air as the Palais de Tokyo fountain misted guests including Machine Gun Kelly, Erykah Badu, Cher, Michèle Lamy, and Tyga. In fashion, the FROW is the row of seats closest to the catwalk - the most desirable and prestigious place to sit. This year, celebrities and fashion icons were subject to the fountains blast. The runway was soaked as models walked wearing gladiator thigh high boots strided through.
Rick Owens is from San Joaquin Valley California. He moved to Los Angeles to study art at Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design.
“I wanted to be an artist at the beginning, but then I didn’t think I had it in me. I didn’t think I had the intellectual stamina for it, so I decided to be a fashion designer, because that was frivolous and easy.”
Rick’s ease in speaking so nonchalantly tells how his talent for design is true. Rick broke into the scene as the boyfriend of Michèle Lamy who owned a celebrity frequented cafe in Los Angeles. Initially, Lamy hired Rick to work on tailoring for her luxury inspired clothing brand, ‘Lamy’. Rick and Lamy love dark and dystopic looks, often working with leather and futuristic plastic.
This show, Rick Owens iterated on forms spurring from the models shoulders, as fur and metal rose up to give the models an ominous strength. Deep ‘V’ neck cuts are another staple of Ricks’ that has become synonymous in the fashion world with his work. Owens contonued to wow the audience with intricate tulle ballgowns whose darkness was adorned with accents of red and pink.
Rick Owens is an expressive and truly unique designer who has been innovating greatly for the past decade. We are living in a renaissance period for dark looks, led by Rick and Lamy. Paris Fashion Week was another strong show under Ricks already long list of recent success.
October 24 2022
In her first show in Paris since 2020, Rei Kawabuko showcased a masterful collection. Rei Kawabuko is the founder and lead designer for Comme De Garçons. At 80 years of age, she has a long legacy of incredible work behind her. Still, Rei continues to innovate in form and shape upon the human body. Of many innovative fashion houses hosting shows this week, Kawabuko’s haute coture for Comme De Garçons is strikingly more inspired and new. Kawabuko’s approach to blending distinct and sculpture like forms toward cohesive and dynamic forms sets her work apart from her peers and even the human shape.
Backstage greeting guests, Rei Kawabuko wore a long black coat and bright white sneakers. Francesco Risso, the head designer of Italian luxury fashion house Marni, stood out front. Risso told a reporter,
“You know, I loved how proud it was. I kept thinking, This is really against the body, and, yes, fuck it. This is really free. And the respect for it and the workmanship.”
Among 18 of the pieces that Rei Kawabuko showcased, none bore the silhouette of any human form. Kawabuko’s talent to continue to create dynamic forms for so many decades is truly the mark of a young mind and a generational talent. Initially gaining attention in the early ‘80s for her deconstructivist pattern making, Rei has always been innovating. Her technique to tailoring inside out, slashing fabric, and flipping the seams was supported by master level stitching and design. It was through this early break-though that Kawabuko took the fashion world’s attention and birthed deconstruction as a fashion movement. It seems as though she truly exudes this talent of hers in all aspects of life, as she is also the founder many successful businesses that have become critically important pillars of the modern fashion world. In 2004 Rei Kawabuko held a brief store-font in Japan which she called a ‘guerilla’ store. This would later inspire what we now know as pop up stores. Later, she would go on to be the founder of New York’s greatest fashion retailer and supplier, Dover Street Market. In stores, Dover Street Market is often considered as an art show host by their fantastic and disruptive methods to display the clothing on sale.
In 2019 in an interview with The Cut, Rei told the reporter, “I want to make clothes one must think about, search for, sympathize with, and struggle to wear.”. Perphaps the pursuit of making challenging clothing and Rei’s ability to continually succeed at her challenges is what sharpens her mind. Kawabuko is continually improving and in the next decade we are likely to be continually amazed and surprised beyond the fashion world’s already high bar for Rei Kawabuko’s work.
October 21 2022
On October 3rd, Balenciaga made a splash in the mud for Paris Fashion Week 2023. This year, Balenciaga drew widespread attention for a variety of reasons unrelated to their ready to wear collection. Just days earlier, Kanye West premiered a collection for YZY that garnered media attention largely on account of a series of shirts that read ‘WHITE LIVES MATTER’. The shirts accompanied by cellphone videos of a frontstage emotional rant by Kanye West made twitter and journalists jump on the story. Kanye would go on to walk first in the muddy dugout of the Balenciaga show on the following day.
During his rant, Kanye cited how difficult it was to find a space to host the collection and show without the help of a major fashion house or LVMH. Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, commonly known as LVMH, is a French multinational holding corporation and business conglomerate that owns 75 distinguished fashion houses. Headquartered in Paris, LVMH lists Louis Vuitton, Dior, Sephora, Tiffany & Co., Fendi, and more. Conversley, fellow Paris fashion conglomerate Kerning is the owner of Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent. While Kanye displayed a full collection with YZY in addition to hosting a live sunday service performance, the space he selected was small and somewhat more intimate. This close quarters space may have helped drive home the fear in audiences hearts when Kanye began ranting while wearing his racially insensitive shirt.
As Kanye walked through the massive mud field to kick off Balenciaga’s show, the difference between Kanye and classically trained creative director Demna was clear. Demna Gvasalia is the creative director of Balenciaga and co-founder of Vetements. The Balenciaga set was the work of Spanish artist Santiago Sierra, who created a similar installation called “House in Mud” in Germany in 2015. Backstage a reporter caught Demna for comment. Demna stated, It’s blasphemous to put a €1,000 shoe into a mud pool.” Or, for that matter, leather garments and evening gowns.” Certainly, the blasphemy rung true with an audience beyond fashion as images from the Balenciaga show were trending on the wider web of twitter and major news outlets.