The shows for the fall/winter 2020 collections brought us to every corner of the beautiful city of Paris, from the grandiose dome of Les Invalides for Celine, to the striking Pyramids of the Louvre Museum for Louis Vuitton. Between a hectic schedule of shows and events, we sampled double-shot flat whites in Paris’ many hip modern cafes, then hopped left bank for a more traditional café allongé in the old haunts of Cézanne and Picasso. We took in Paris by night, walking the quays of the river Seine illuminated by streetlamps that were rendered even more romantic by the rain. The dazzling Eiffel Tower was a sight that flashed by through taxi windows, and, as always, greeted guests for the Saint Laurent show at the Trocadéro.
Respite from Covid-19 concerns presented itself in the form of positivity and hopefulness on the runway. Chanel’s message of freedom and liberation was reflected in models nonchalantly walking arm in arm in modern iterations of the house codes. A completely mirrored floor made the runway feel suspended in the sky. Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino pared back to clean lines and celebrated black to allow the individual to shine through. The Hermès show was a delightful offering of bold primary colours in an equestrian playground, and Thom Browne’s Narnia-esque winter wonderland set the scene for a sartorial menagerie of every-animal handbags.
The collections also spoke of the shared consciousness of our times. In the apocalyptic setting of Balenciaga, fires raged and storms brewed, reflected against the surface of a flooded sports stadium as a dramatised observation on climate change. At Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri continued to champion women, and reaffirming slogans, created by artist Claire Fontaine, hung above the show replete with the new uniform for the modern woman. Sarah Burton focused on the community strength of women at Alexander McQueen, drawing inspiration from the protective and endearing symbolisms of Welsh folklore that seems so apt for the times. And Marine Serre cut through the tense noise of the current moment, presenting a vision of a futuristic that is a melange of cultures and ages, and the old and the new.
Paris Fashion Week showed us that these moments of beauty and splendour, in thought-provoking and joyous celebrations of creativity and artistic vision, are the very salve for our uncertain times.