Fashion must be an immersive experience, and runway shows must make the public feel strong emotions. Guadalupe Ferrández reviews the most exceptional and engrossing runway shows of Men’s Spring/Summer 2020 in Paris.
Dreaming is the reason why we consume clothes. Historically, fashion has been a creative form through which people could express their individuality and identify with their community. The value of garments has always lain in the messages they convey. Therefore, nowadays, brands must embellish their collections with storytelling, in order to keep this dream alive.
Fashion’s evolution over the years has not only impacted the design and style of garments, but also how designers must communicate their concepts. Brands need to create inspiring stories that can deeply connect with the people watching them. Alexander McQueen, the renowned British designer, is a great example of this.
McQueen’s collections were remarkable, as well as the quality and creativity of his designs. Nevertheless, what made him become a fashion legend was his talent as storyteller; his way of transmitting stories – but especially emotions. Each of his shows could be compared to a theatrical performance, a universe where clothes were just another element that completed his tale.
Currently, due to social media’s influence and the younger generation’s demand for experiences, almost every brand has started to stage monumental showcases. Fashion houses are asked to render performance-like shows with an immersive atmosphere, where the audience is able to get inspired and engage with the collection’s own, and unique, micro-universe. Fashion talents must be able to connect with an awaiting public searching for emotions.
The London fashion scene has always been prominent for its talents’ creative universes. Designers such as Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, Koché, or Wales Bonner have successfully built brands based on strong statements, communicated through engagingly experiential representations instead of simple runway shows. On the other hand, Paris Fashion Week has normally been associated with sober and elegant representations. Yet, more and more brands have recently started to boost their creative universes.
During Men’s Spring/Summer 2020, the most exciting shows were as follows.
LOUIS VUITTON BY VIRGIL ABLOH
Virgil Abloh’s show for Louis Vuitton, which homaged Notre Dame’s vestiges and the present moment, was perfectly staged to be an unforgettable experience. The orchestra playing live music, the red bouncy castle with the monogram logo, the LV creperie and the bookstore, the branded park benches and decorations; every element recreated Louis Vuitton’s vision of a typical Parisian location. A microuniverse that clung to the perfect cityscape of Paris, to be sensed by the audience.
Demna Gvasalia’s anti-capitalist fantasy for Vetements offered the audience the McDonalds experience in one of the chain’s most emblematic locations, Champs Elysées. The Georgian designer, known for his sarcasm and critical reflections on society, recreated a satirical micro-universe in which the invitees could taste McDonalds milkshakes while reading the brand’s anarchist menu and watching a collection ironically inspired by multinationals’ logos.
Jacquemus, who celebrated his 10th anniversary show, decided to travel to the South of France, the inspiration behind all his collections. The show was staged under the blue Provençal sky, in the middle of a field of purple lavender covered by a vibrant pink fabric, which steered the walk of the models. The bees, the white umbrellas, the misty colours, the sunlight… everything within the environment generated the dreamy feeling of being in an Impressionist painting.
Thom Browne, known for his brilliant presentations, gave us Marie Antoinette references blended with sports references (NFL, NBA, MLB, Ballet). The runway, led by James Whiteside – the American Ballet Theatre’s principal dancer – included models posing like statues on pedestals and walking dressed in frivolously theatrical garments. The designer managed to turn the École des Beaux-Arts into an artistic space that conveyed the grandeur of the late 18th Century with the robustness of sports.
Humberto Leon and Carol Lim’s final show for Kenzo took over Paris’ AccorArena. Once the last look disappeared from the runway, Solange Knowles along a brass band appeared to fill the place with her magical voice, in this case, with her new song ‘I’m A Witness’. The show became a melancholically sublime farewell celebration of this exceptional creative duo.
Presented at the Palais du Tokyo courtyard, the designer drew inspiration from his Mexican origins. Weaving their way around Thomas Houseago’s sculpture, models moved to the rhythm of Michele Lamy’s track mixed into live Azteca’s drums. The experience artistically transmitted both social criticism in regard to immigration, and an homage to the culture of Mexico.
How will fashion creatives surprise us next season? Let’s wait for September to see which shows will immerse us in new dreamy universes and which stories will be told by designers.