Best shows from Paris Couture Week SS18: A.F. Vandevorst and Xuan
The final day of Paris Couture Week has arrived. Now, while our contributing fashion writer Brent Taalur Ramsey takes a well-deserved break from the shows, let's take a look through his final recap: On day four, it was all about celebrating A.F. Vandevorst's 20th anniversary with reinvented classics, and discovering Xuan's elegant sense of realism on the runway.
A.F. VANDEVORST: THE PLATINUM YEARS
Designers: An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx
First thoughts: Already, 2018 sounds like it'll be a thrilling year for the husband-and-wife duo behind the Belgian label. Designers Vandevorst and Arickx celebrated their 20th professional anniversary by creating a collection of 40 looks inspired by their best hits — each a reimagination of an ensemble plucked from one of their past collections. Paying homage to the traditional rigidity of military uniforms and equestrian insignia that come to define A.F. Vandevorst, they collaborated with famed fashion activist B. Åkerlund for a 10-tee capsule, featured underneath the reinvented classics. Archival collections can often feel forced and uninspired, but they managed to make it a tour of their brightest moments, silhouettes and influences.
Favourite looks: Presented in L'Oratoire du Louvre, a protestant chapel situated on Rue Saint-Honoré, the new collection fêted the design duo's platinum anniversary with an opening of a cognac leather corset (look 1) — a nod to the horse saddles they used throughout their first-ever collection. They jumped forthwith from year to year, revisiting the leather waistcoat from spring 2001 (look 6), last season's couture debut (look 39), and this collection's original leather-clad piece (look 40). Other standouts include the signature red-cross emblems (look 30) and the craft paper trench coat with its crisp tailoring (look 12).
Soundtrack: Tuxedomoon's In a Manner of Speaking soared during the final walk.
XUAN: RUNWAY REALISM
Designer: Xuan-Thu Nguyen
First thoughts: We don't often find ourselves face-to-face with a couturier wanting to illustrate the harshness of reality at Paris Couture Week; we're more likely to be accosted by the spiralling aspirations that perpetuate the couture catwalk. Somewhere within this week's whirlwind of glamour, elegance and luxury, came Xuan-Thu Nguyen's latest line-up, in which she approached these unavoidable pleasantries from a different perspective — one of sombre reconciliation and open pragmatism. From start to finish, it was a breath of fresh air, a most ideal way to wrap up the past four days.
Favourite looks: Browsing through this collection online, it's immediately obviously this isn't exactly the pretty (and often frivolous) confectionary of sweetness we've become accustomed to seeing on the couture circuit. That said, it does carry a beautiful — and as such, innately human — narrative to the catwalk. For that, this Dutch-Vietnamese designer was an easy shoe-in to being a part of this recap of best shows. My favourite looks: The deflated volumes (looks 1, 5, 9) that conjured dampened dreams and false expectations and her floral elements (looks 2, 8,10) showing a deep longing for an unattainable perfection.
Special note: After being absent from the couture setting for quite some time (to focus instead on her work with private clients) yesterday marked Nguyen's third official collection since returning to the runway last year. Now, it seems her present and future have collided have she will be concerned with will be maintaining and evolving this level of contemporary mindfulness moving forward — a feat sure to be honest, articulate, and no doubt exquisitely crafted.
All coverage from Paris Couture Fashion Week spring/summer 2018.