Paris Fashion Week: All the ways H&M Studio, Manish Arora and Isabel Marant appropriated (and appreciated) foreign cultures

Beg, borrow or steal

Text: Jolene Khor

From spaghetti western to Asian emojis, the aforementioned designers’ fall/winter 2018 references were derived from diverse heritages of the world

Nobody should be made to wait an hour for their dinner. Even if the stereotype is that fashion people don't eat, even if the dining venue is stunningly redecorated to resemble Kyoto, especially if the real agenda, the fashion show, is only to commence after food is being served. Now that we got that out of the way, H&M's spring/summer Studio line was skilfully designed by head of design and creative director, Pernilla Wohlfahrt. Her slinky fringes were on point; the peachy pink skirt on model Adut Akech was really just an opener for the glimmering harness we would see on her later. Too gorgeous. In between, ribbed, collared tunics; 19th century nightgowns; flared trousers (cropped with mod metal button fastenings); heavy knits plastered in graphic inkblots; and that beautiful shade of teal colouring the wide lapel asymmetrical suit. All very now, in every essence of the word. The collection is available to shop instantly on and at H&M Orchard Building. We're running to the flagship store first thing tomorrow morning to nab the asymmetrical patchwork skirt and the high-shine danglers in ultraviolet. We suggest you do the same.

One of the best things about fashion week is you'll never know who you'll meet, and when. Last season, Grace Coddington opened our door at Céline. We walked by Kris Jenner at Fendi. Susanna Lau gave us the once-over in a gelato shop outside Prada. This season at Manish Arora, we breathed the same air as Chinese emoji Tuzki. Thus marking the beginning of Arora's love affair with the Asian continent. Featured heavily on the clothes, Tuzki could be seen meditating, attending PFW and play supermodel on kimono jackets, many nipped at the waist with obi belt backpacks. Super kawaii. The magic (and mayhem) is in the needlework: swirling sequin heart embroideries (the heart is something of a Manish Arora emblem), romantic chrysanthemums, classic repeated rolling waves, koi fishes and mystical monasteries came crashing together, brightly so, on the majestic silk trousers, long sleeveless jackets and ladylike circle skirts as well as the more casual washed denim, grey sweats and flounce skirts. Just one thing... why didn't the casting director use any Japanese models in the show?

When the familiar notes of a harmonica came on the speakers, everything shot into focus: the ground upon which our boots rested were made of wood; surrounding the glass tent sheltering us from the cold is dirt and trees; we're sitting on rocky little wooden stools lit softly by a warm orange glow. Toto, we are in Kansas after all; the show space meant to feel like a barn. Well, as much a barn Jardin des Tuileries can ever be anyway. In her version of a John Wayne Western flick, Isabel Marant's protagonist is no damsel in distress. In up-to-there cowboy boots (by now the It shoe of fall/winter 2018), saddle belts, snakeskin leather pants, shearling coats and fringed suede jackets, this chick is in charge and riding solo. Softer touches included 19th century cotton muslin nightdresses (also big in Dior), fluid paisley frocks and Peter Pan collared tops with eyelets and farm sleeves. Lest you think Marant lost herself in the countryside, consider the glamorous black number on Kaia Gerber at the end, radiating power sex, and that violet dress (it's the only time the colour appeared here), wrapping the body in all the right places — also in silver, shoulders padded and ready to fire.

All coverage from Paris Fashion Week fall/winter 2018


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