Paris Fashion Week: Why we’re simultaneously inspired and disappointed by Issey Miyake, Andrew Gn and Yohji Yamamoto

Paris Fashion Week: Why we’re simultaneously inspired and disappointed by Issey Miyake, Andrew Gn and Yohji Yamamoto

Can’t win them all

Text: Jolene Khor

The designers’ fall/winter 2018 successes and shortcomings, below

"When thinking of the world of nature in the cold harsh winter months, there are enduring plants and animals living and waiting for spring to blossom," read the show notes at Yoshiyuki Miyamae's Issey Miyake. "Quiet strength and gentleness wraps around them." No offense to Miyamae, but there's hardly anything quiet about his fall/winter 2018 collection. And we mean that as a compliment. Take the opening looks of feathered sleeves, turtlenecks, vests, pant legs, sweater hems and hair — though not at all once. They may be white-on-white, they may blend in with the snow, but faint they are not. On to the main talking point: the finer details. Miyamae's heavily textured knits underwent what the house is calling Steam Stretch, a process that weaves low count wool thread to create a new textile with knit-like texture. Bouncing on the runway, they mimic wave-like pleated movements much needed for his cocoon of his haiku of a collection; only 34 looks were presented, the entirety of which was a pedestal to Issey Miyake's technological advances in fashion. We were impressed, but we'd be lying if we said we didn't want to see a more diverse offering from this young designer.

Fashion is notoriously nostalgic. And when designers look back to go forward, old tricks, when performed by the right hands, can feel dramatically new. On the wrong hands, the results can be dangerously dated. For fall/winter, Andrew Gn's hands can't seem to agree with each other. Citing French actress Catherine Deneuve as inspiration, Gn brought out "stewardess" hats (we prefer 'flight attendant' but 'stewardess' is more accurate in the context of the '60s), fur trimmed sleeves on Jackie O jackets and conservative coat dresses. He turned them on their heads by embellishing the first with pearls, while lavishing the second and third using beautiful cerulean and millennial pink silk elevated by red roses and neon green embroidery. Unfortunately, that's where the references — and our praises — end. We desperately wanted to like the Alber Elbaz-esque ruffled shoulders welcomed with peplum waists and little velvet bows, but Gn's execution lacks the same finesse. Teardrop cut-outs and circular flounce sleeves don't make a happy combination either. The eyelet high collars had potential, but fell flat when assembled with black satin. Maybe his are the kind of clothes that look better in photographs (taken under the right light, worn by the right model, posed in the right location) than in real life?

With the Yohji Yamamoto medallion invitation came a little slip of paper noting the designer's tributes to Cubism (an art form from the 20th century, made popular by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, which turned "three-dimensional illusionism into abstract concepts" as explained by The Metropolitan Museum of Art) and his good friend Azzedine Alaïa in his fall/winter collection. Following Alaïa's death late last year, a heartbroken Yamamoto went to work. Understandably alive in that production is the Azzedine spirit — something we instantly recognised in Yamamoto's embracing as opposed to eschewing the traditional forms of a female body — a trait more prevalent at Alaïa's past shows than at Yamamoto's. Jackets, still expertly layered, tucked, draped and ruched à la Cubism stuck closer to the female silhouette this season. We have the patchwork leather corsets in black (but of course) and brown to thank for that, which borrowed some of that unbridled sensuality, for a romantic, poetic, albeit tragic collection from the sensei. If only, if just for one season, we saw Yohji experiment a little more with fabrication in the name of his fallen brother. We've seen what he can do to leather, wool and heavily starched cotton. Imagine the kind of magic he could weave with hemp, tweed and even a little tulle.

All coverage from Paris Fashion Week fall/winter 2018