One of the catwalk shows that got the fashionistas talking in Paris was Balenciaga's S/S 18 runway. The latter saw Demna Gvasalia leaving behind Cristóbal Balenciaga's archive to indulge in his exercises in appropriating other designers' works and ideas, a practice he honed at Vêtements.
So, while for the previous collection he had a look at the house's archives, for the next Spring/Summer season, he sampled bits and pieces of past collections of other people and remixed them in his magic cauldron.
Gvasalia's trademark second-skin boots (reinventions of the '60s Pan T boots...) came with digital prints of vintage screensavers (sunsets and mountains) that also reappeared on triple-layered denim trousers similar to the ones he did in Balenciaga's menswear collection (mind you, the prints were also reminiscent of the ones in Margiela's S/S 10 collection...View this photo).
The modus operandi of Margiela's Artisanal collections was evoked in the skirts and trousers that seemed to be made with repurposed beach umbrellas or awnings ripped from cafes (a pair of pants came with a print spelling "Avenue Montaigne"). Tartan pointed at punk, striped shirts at the male wardrobe and tweeds hinted at Chanel.
Valentino's Rockstud pumps reappeared almost at the very beginning of the show, though they were turned into spiked ankle-strapped pointy stilettos with dangerously long studs (apparently the designer told some critics he was rather pleased with them, but so was the Valentino label when they first did this shoe as it proved pretty successful).
Then parkas were hung in front of shirts, a trench coat was awkwardly attached to a denim jacket, a red stylish coat was collaged to a check shirt worn with a cotton vest, while a purple corduroy jacket was combined with a leather gilet, replicating the same exercises in desconstruction seen on Comme des Garçons' A/W 2006 runway.
It is worth mentioning that the pieces will retail as they came on the runway, so that consumers will be able to wear them as separate designs or with one piece dangling from the other.
Designs covered in newspaper print (mock texts accompanied by images of fakely happy people that may have been borrowed from Shutterstock...), evoked the ghosts of Schiaparelli, of '60s newspaper printed dresses, of Moschino, Gaultier and Galliano's news prints, while also referencing today's debate on fake news.
Dresses with money prints scans called to mind dollar prints courtesy of Jeremy Scott, as if Gvasalia was ironically taking the piss out of one of the best known fashion samplers around.
The dresses with the lingerie slips and the lace camisoles attached to chiffon dresses were probably the weakest points of the show, but they came matched with the latest Gvasalia collaboration (yawn).
As we stated in previous posts, most designers nowadays use collaborations following the "safety in numbers/the more the merrier" principle, but the truth is that they look for other brands they can collaborate with because they do not have anything fresh or incredibly innovative to say.
This time the collaboration was done with Crocs: the ugly shoes hated by the fashionistas were turned into horrifically cartoonish 10 cm-high mammoth-like platforms covered in decorative pins such as flags, logos and assorted fun symbols like the souvenir charms that dangled from the models' belts.
A few critics thought there was a lot of humour in these clownish hybrids, but the problem is that Christopher Kane did Crocs covered in stones and minerals in his S/S 17 collection.
Before Kane, young designer Lindsay Degen reivented for her DEGEN A/W 2014 collection different pairs of Crocs, coming up with cute sandals integrating LED lights. Her version of the functional footwear was a crossover, a sort of Crocs-meets-Buffalo Boots shoe ideal for rave heads.
Yet, before Degen, platform Crocs happened by accident when Iggy Pop was pictured in 2008 wearing a pair of customised Crocs in Cannes while relaxing after an injury suffered at a gig. Since one of the musician's legs is shorter than the other, one of the shoes had been customised with a wedge. So, who knows, whoever came up with that functional idea for Iggy Pop may have inspired this obnoxious creation for the next Spring/Summer season.
You can bet fashionistas who hated Crocs and who laughed at people wearing them will now change their minds and start loving the most controversial shoes of the latest 15 years. Yet, if only shoes that hurt are fashionable, they are abiding to the rule: a while back doctors stated that wearing Crocs daily may indeed lead to tendinitis, toe deformities, nail problems, corns and calluses.
Maybe the most annoying thing about this collection is exactly this collaboration: in the endless fashion game of appropriating and remixing, it seems indeed incredibly irritating for fashionistas to claim back and embrace the same shoes they laughed at. Gvasalia has got an explanation, though: he was mixing deluxe styles with streetwear, chic bourgeoisie ladies with ordinary styles. Critics seemed to have believed him, influencers will love the idea, and (wealthy) consumers will buy into it. But if nothing is new and fresh in this game of appropriating, recombining and remixing, what's the point of keeping on doing fashion shows?