As the Paris Fashion Week draws to a close, PORT’s fashion features editor, David Hellqvist reflects on the AW16 collections unveiled this month, as documented by illustrator Billy Clark
The beginning of LCM feels like ages ago, but it’s only been 18 days. The fashion circuit does that you, it sucks you in and completely owns you for a few weeks twice a year. Though exhausting at times, it’s a great feeling. You get to experience the purest form of fashion, a show where the designer controls every aspect of the presentation: music, venue, invitation, mood and, of course, the clothes.
Naturally, with so many shows spread over four cities (if you count the Pitti Uomo trade show in Florence), it’s impossible to find just one or two themes – we’ve never been too interested in identifying trends anyway. But you can, however, detect general feelings, and there was definitely a sense of fragile retro vibes, defined by Michele Alessandro’s Gucci look. He built on his 70s cut and colours, but added a new layer of wonderful weirdness.
That could be felt in London as well, most notably with the rise of Grace Wales Bonner. Other London highlights included the developed Craig Green look. He mastered the tricky concept of building on an existing aesthetic while also experimenting with new influences.
Like these brilliant doodles by illustrator Billy Clark show, other notable LCM highlights included E Tautz 50s tailoring via the 1980s and Alexander McQueen’s army-inspired suits with butterfly prints. John Ray and Dunhill perfected an old British classic, the blazer, and Margaret Howell continued offer a zen space amid the show chaos with her clean and serene garments. Meanwhile, brands like Nasir Mazhar and Cottweiler represented London’s underground scene with a sub-cultural aesthetic.
Milan is a great mixture of grand teatros – a la the Armani show – and small trattorias for us to enjoy simple pasta dishes and huge veal escalopes. Prada is a constant highlight, but Gucci was also a headliner. Classic Italian brands like Tod’s are slotted in among newly revamped brands, like Pal Zileri. It’s interesting to see the city rejuvenate itself and breathe in much needed fresh air. One great example of that was the Fendi show – great lineage and traditions mixed with a modern and contemporary way of thinking.
Paris is the unofficial highlight though. We come here to bask in the beauty of the city of lights, and to enjoy fashion from the likes of Raf Simons, Valentino and Givenchy. Kim Jones at Louis Vuitton continued to add edge to the iconic luggage brand, while Kris Van Assche kept Dior Homme’s slim signature tailoring. Kolor added a Japanese touch with its innovative fabrications and Korean label Wooyoungmi impressed with clear cuts and interesting colour panels. Yohji Yamamoto and Adidas went back to basics with a monochrome Y-3 collection, while newcomers including OAMC and Off-White added a much needed ‘street’ slant to the traditional fashion in Paris. The week ended brilliantly with Paul Smith encouraging a singalong to David Bowie’s ‘Oh You Pretty Things’. It was a beautiful end to a great season. Bring on winter 2016!
Illustration Billy Clark