PFW fall/winter 2020: Reviews of the Balenciaga, Thom Browne, Valentino, Givenchy and Sacai runway shows
BALENCIAGA: WATER WORLD
First impressions: When we first stepped into the Balenciaga show venue (a darkened movie studio located outside Paris city in Saint-Denis) we could literally see nothing. Then the lights blinked on and a soft gasp could be heard from the audience, as the entire runway, as well as the first few rows of seats had been entirely submerged in water. It was a glimpse into Demna Gvasalia's post-apocalyptic world and we couldn't help but be immersed in the severe beauty of it.
Favourite looks: Models, and people from all ages and walks of life, took to the stage in a series of stark black outfits cut and styled in a way that's reminiscent of clerical garb. With stern expressions on their faces, they cut a threatening figure as they stomped angrily across the runway. Interspersed between the black looks, were pops of bright colours, floral dresses with strong, sharp shoulders and a beautiful red coat. Then, to end, Gvasalia sent down soccer jerseys, juxtaposed with trailing gowns with matching leggings, gloves and shoes.
Favourite accessories: If the world were drowning (or burning), these are the ultimate accessories you would need for survival: rubber boots, a lunchbox, a duffel bag, a medical box of emergency supplies, your iPhone (right?), and web-like shoes done in collaboration with Vibram, of course.
THOM BROWNE: TWO BY TWO
First impressions: Fashion week is the time where designers can bring their vision, and any immersive experience to life, and for Thom Browne, this meant a winter wonderland replete with fake snow on the ground where animals could come out to frolic and play. As pairs of models came out — one male, one female — striding side by side, each wearing identical looks to one another and carrying bags shaped in different animals, it was clear the theme was inspired by Noah's Ark.
Favourite looks: Though Browne usually presents men's and women's collections separately, this combined collection was twice as impactful, with his trademark use of flannel as the main attraction. Last season's exaggerated Marie Antoinette shapes have been replaced with sharper tailoring translating into unisex pleated skirts, whimsical coats bearing images of zebras and elephants, and suits.
Favourite accessories: Gone are last season's towering heels. Instead, laced up boots, worn by both genders were a staple in this show. And how could we ignore the animal-shaped bags? An anteater, a lion, a snake... take your pick from the animal kingdom to add a touch of whimsy to any #OOTD.
VALENTINO: THE FASHION UNIFORM
First impressions: This season, we've seen many designers make the case for unisex dressing and inclusivity, and in his own way, so did Pierpaolo Piccioli. Besides sending male models down the runway, he also put a coat that opened the men's show on a female model, and included trans and curvy models in his line up.
Favourite looks: We're at the end of Paris Fashion Week, and head-to-toe black seems to be the look du jour for the season. For spring/summer 2020, Pierpaolo Piccioli did neon brights and feathers. This time around, he was toned it down many notches, with an all-black ensemble starting the show, before finally segueing into the bold red Valentino is known of, and finishing off with evening looks replete with florals, lace and sequins.
Favourite accessories: For most of the collection, the models sported comfortable and practical-looking flatform boots, which were the perfect juxtaposition to the sheer looks and ethereal gowns.
GIVENCHY: THE BOSS OF ME
First impressions: As we streamed into the Givenchy show venue, a cloud of billowing red smoke was there to greet us... only to unveil rows and rows of smartly suited gentlemen with drink carts profferring champagne and more. This bright, almost ominous-looking red would turn out to be one of the key colours Clare Waight Keller would use in her fall/winter 2020 collection, alongside black and white in solid, striped, colourblocked and patterned variations.
Favourite looks: This is a collection designed for the #GirlBoss. Strong shoulders, well-tailored suits and classic coats to rule the boardroom, easy breezy dresses for the weekend, and then a touch of old Hollywood glamour for formal dinners thanks to the monochrome evening looks embellished with fringe and tassels.
Favourite accessories: The bags have been upsized, with clutches as long as a woman's torso, and roomy totes that give meaning to the phrase "everything but the kitchen sink". We're fans, though. Micro bags may be trending, but as we all know, you probably have to carry more than just a credit card and lipstick in real life.
SACAI: SPACE & TIME
First impressions: Up the staircase and into a floor that's stripped bare, in a building that looks to be still under construction. This is where Chitose Abe worked her magic, bringing to fruition the idea of movement, and how silhouettes of clothing can morph when it's wearer is in motion. "I want to show you something," breathed Uma Thurman, a line from the sci-fi movie Gattaca, and we were off on an out-of-this-world adventure with Sacai.
Favourite looks: Abe is a skillful master at mixing different colours and textures, and this season, she plays up that strength even more, interspersing knits with velvet and leather, dabbling in silks and fabrics with a beautiful sheen and experimenting with silhouettes that would look right at home on the couture runways.
Favourite accessories: The use of chains, seen on earrings, necklaces, shoes and even bags, brought a tougher, 'street' edge to the looks. Our favourite combination? The looks that paired the chunky earrings with the more dainty pearl necklaces (some of which have been sewn directly onto the clothing), was a great take on masculine meets feminine.
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