Paris Fashion Week continues with Spring/Summer 2021 presentations taking place both in-person and online. Here, we’re sharing what’s new from Balenciaga, Paco Rabanne, Ralph & Russo, Thom Browne, Akris, and more.
Thom Browne’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection is a tailored ode to sport and sportsmanship in a dream of bronze, silver, and gold, and was introduced through a film celebrating the first lunar games, reporting live from 239,000 miles above the earth. The collection presented menswear as womenswear and women’s as men’s, with exaggerated and elongated proportions. The collection featured oversized sack suits, long structured blazers, and pencil skirts that fall off the body, high armhole blazers with skirts that sit low on the waist for women, alongside elongated blazers and coats, structured and fully canvased knitwear with pleated skirts, shorts, and cropped trousers for men. Simple and classic constructions of wool, cotton, and cashmere were interpreted in new ways, such as seersucker re-imagined in wool or knit cashmere scarves twisted to look like a swimmer’s towel around the neck. Regarding accessories, Thom Browne presented leather bags and shoes in nubuck, an homage to classic American sportswear and headwear that offered a futuristic reinterpretation of early 20th century styles.
Akris’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection “Pure Freude” (Pure Joy) draws its inspiration from the work of German artist Imi Knoebel, known for his contributions to and shaping of 20th-century Minimalist abstract art. Like in Knoebel’s paintings, this season’s collection let color shine, alongside a constant flow of joy and inspiration, bringing ease, fluidity of movement, and a new feel for freedom to the Akris women. The collection featured prints inspired by Koebel’s work, including Kinderstern, Rot Gelb Blau-54 Messerschnitte, his series of acrylic on aluminum paintings from 1999, such as Blue Angel, E.T., Tiger Woods, Zion, and more. Highlights include a phosphor fluorescent sequin gown and double-breasted trench coat, an ecru fluorescent Structured Lines silk knit dress with transparent shoulders, a Blue Angel print silk georgette kaftan dress, an Ecru-Black raffia trench coat with contrast leather lapels, and a Multicolor Stroke on Paper print cotton voile cap sleeve tunic blouse.
Ralph & Russo unveiled their Spring/Summer 2021 collection “La Futura” in the form of a digitally-charged runway show. The collection was born from a profound belief in human creativity and a commitment to creating both an inspiring and captivating future while celebrating the interplay between digital and analog, individual, and dual. The season was presented against a mesmerizing backdrop of crashing waves, suggesting both the immensity of the natural and digital worlds and the romance of never-ending Latin American summers. Featuring an iconic zig-zag, jungle, and abstract tile prints alongside white cotton poplin silhouettes, laser-cut leather pieces, glamorous metallic raffia tailoring, and sensual double-satin cocktail dresses, the collection reflects the infinite possibilities of the human imagination. “La Futura” also marked the unveiling of three collaborations, including six swimwear designs created in partnership with La Perla, the finest timepieces from Audemar Piguet’s latest Royal Oak Concept collection, and two chic eyewear styles created in collaboration with Linda Farrow.
Balenciaga’s Summer 2021 pre-collection was introduced within a video that took a wearable wardrobe into darkened streets, at a time when fashion week would usually light up Paris. In terms of design, production, and wear, sustainability is ever-present in the collection—93.5% of the plain materials used are certified sustainable or upcycled and 100% of the print bases have sustainable certifications. At-home essentials were reimagined for an outing as outer or eveningwear, streetwear codes were reconstituted and an ever-present trompe l’oeil concept was found in various denim interpretations—from denim printed fluid silk and five-pocket pants in jersey, to full leather garments that look like a pair of classic jeans and jacket from afar. Highlights included a sheer gown made with basketball net chains, deconstructed sweatshirts turned into headwear pieces, a faux-sterling bathrobe, a layered silk pajama suit, and X Pander—a classical runner mounted on springy soles—the newest addition to the Balenciaga sneaker family.
Paco Rabanne’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection presented an everyday wardrobe reimagined with an avant-garde attitude. Conceived by Julien Dossena, the collection is a garde-robe of instinctive rather than declarative looks, where individuality surfaces through a remix of easy-to-wear pieces. In the midst of the season’s sparkling head-to-toe geometric and flowery assemblages, leopard patterns, lingerie, and lace-covered baby doll dresses drew a more vaporous and bewitching vision. The collection showed gold and silver mesh dresses suggesting a gesture of insouciance, molded tops, and jewelry plates around the clavicle and navel accentuating the figure outward, alongside exaggerated jewel prints draping the contours of the body with trompe l’oeil glitz. Bustiers and washed denim—the foundational pieces of the wardrobe—were often layered with elongated tailored jackets or a relaxed metal mesh robe. The collection’s statement was less formal but with great technical precision, offering a deconstruction of stylistic archetypes for a deliberately unstructured silhouette.