Fashion week presentations around the world are continuing to change, from online debuts to in-person shows. For Paris Fashion Week, we’re seeing Spring/Summer 2021 collections presented in both ways—on screen and on the stage once again. Below, we’re sharing details from Dries Van Noten, Elie Saab, Balmain, Acne Studios, and Chloé.
Dries Van Noten welcomed fashion lovers to an amalgamation of fashion and art, seen through a selection of bold images. Playing with shadows, video projections, and a whole lot of color, photographer Viviane Sassen caught scenes of the new collection in motion—on both a beach in Rotterdam and in a studio in Amsterdam. Colorful, daring, and optimistic, the men’s and women’s pieces struck down any doubt that fashion is at a standstill, instead providing a kinetic presentation of vivid, light, and joyous pieces. The visionary films by New Zealand artist Len Lye, who harnessed motion in art in the early 1900s, inspired the Belgian fashion designer to connect with the colors seen on the garments. As Lye scratched and painted colors onto the camera’s celluloid film, he provided a 40-year precursor to psychedelia.
In Spring/Summer 2021, Van Noten’s expressive homage is uplifting and powerful. Monochromatic colors contrasted with solarized hues from Lye’s work, ranging from orange and pink to metallic gold and psychedelic sunburst; silhouettes caught movement with both pure lines and utilitarian shapes, seen in balloon sleeves, high waisted skirts, exaggerated wide-scooped necklines, airy caftans, and a first-ever series of one-piece bathing suits; and prints and embellishments deserved credits unto their own. All motifs were derived from Lye’s films, giving graphics an added historical dimension; traditional needlework is seen on an array of pieces; laser-cut leather takes on a lace-like look, almost broderie anglaise; and we are left teased by garments featuring Lye’s essay on movement printed on them, expected to drop later this season.
Elie Saab’s dedication to couture and craft flowed through the canyons of a rocky desert for its digital Spring/Summer 2021 presentation. Models shot in gorgeous new garments were seen among goats and boulders, with wispy fabrics falling to the breeze around them. In the arid landscape, we caught wind of infinite possibility—a spirit that awakened from soft, distinct, and classical dresses.
Suitable for a personal or professional afternoon, we saw a salmon pink jumpsuit contrast with a white one, the latter embellished with ruffled feathers for volume and texture; a modest mini-jacquard knee-length skit was paired with a high-collared blouse; an unapologetic light celadon blue gown took demanded graceful attention; and large floral prints adorned chiffon, organza, and tulle dresses; and long caped sleeves, ruffled trim, and never-ending trains gave even more personality to its wearer. To accompany the looks, we saw a collection of Elie Saab monogrammed bags and waistline belts, large square mirror sunglasses, and golden leather flats.
Balmain’s Creative Director Olivier Rousteing took a cue from current day American sports, projecting many of its audience members into arena seats above the show. While approximately 350 others were in physical attendance and surrounding the stage, virtual attendees—like Jennifer Lopez, Anna Wintour, Cindy Crawford, and Cara Delavigne—sat front row, appearing on their own flat screens in “seats.” To start, Rousteing sat on a yellow chair on the long catwalk as a voice began to walk guests through the house’s heritage. A recording of Pierre Balmain explaining his original vision of elegance began to play, infusing new-school fashion with old-school drama. Sourcing straight from the house’s archives, the designer was inspired by the founder’s sense of beauty, confidence, and timelessness, and presented a collection that touched on three facets important today: heritage, community, and optimist. The show began with the song “People are People” by Depeche Mode blaring from speakers, with the first group of models emerging onto a smoke-filled runway in neon suits with high-pointed pagoda shoulders.
The contrasting looks that followed ranged from casual pieces to extra-extra. Denim pieces, biker shorts, and knitwear wardrobe necessities were seen mixed between floor-length sequins dresses and sets with high-slits up the leg and garments featuring hand-embroidered Swarovski embellishments (totaling to over almost two million crystals used, many upcycled). The new collection also saw many recent pieces Rousteing has been teasing online from the “1945” capsule collection, featuring Mr. Balmain’s original labyrinth pattern from the 1970s. Seen on many tops, blazers, jackets, and accessories, the black and white print creates a maze for the house’s patrons to follow. Spring/Summer 2021 also saw a handful of collaborations. For eyewear, with pieces made by Akoni. For the first-ever optical eyewear designs for the house, the line builds upon the Brigade-I and Brigade-II designs. And for music, Balmain has teamed up with Apple Music to launch Signature—a one-of-a-kind music destination curated by Rousteing that will be updated throughout the year with exclusive offerings that reflect the house’s inspirations and values of empowerment and inclusion.
In his Spring/Summer 2021 collection notes, Creative Director of Acne Studios, Jonny Johannson, mentions being excited by transitional moments. Alive with possibility, these in-between moments can bring about transformation and rebirth. And so, according to Johannson for the new line, it’s all about “elevation of an elemental life.” Materials and fabrics like cracked leather, pearlized cotton, iridescent paper, crotchet knits, and metallic thread organza interact with the changing of light, captured on camera. We see a handful of fabrics in different thicknesses worn together for poetry in style. Slouchy tailored jackets have no construction inside, but raw cut leather suede pieces instead provide structure. Across the board, too, is luminescence—glowing from a dip-dyed trench coat in pearlescent organza, a metallic shift dress in circled iridescent paper, and cuffs and oversized earrings.
To infuse more art into the offerings, the brand collaborated with the Los Angeles-based artist Ben Quinn for a supernatural take. An image of his pulsating star artwork is printed on an array of pieces, like an oversized metallic thread organza tunic, a wrap skirt and washed linen top, cotton voile tops, and paillette tops. We also see the same work reimagined as a patchwork, making its way onto sheer dresses and skirts. We’re also loving the transparent framed glasses, the large bags with oversized straps, kitten heels with fringed hemp, and flip-flops with straps of braided leather.
Chloé’s live show at the Palais de Tokyo took on an unlocked view of optimism. Spring/Summer 2021, entitled “A Season in Hope,” revealed designs by Natacha Ramsay-Levi that were very Parisian. As if in constant movement on the street of Paris, the garments were in constant motion, effortless and chic. Cotton tunics, pleated dresses, and embroidered collars with butterflies danced with rib knits, dresses with fine lines of lacework, and ruffled shoulders. For graphics, the brand paid homage to the late American artist Corita Kent who created silkscreens of her works that appeared throughout the collection.
Taking on a collage-like spirit, washed neons, bleached neutrals, and warn mineral hues were seen on multi-layered panels of fabric. Kent’s work was also seen knitted and woven into gorgeous garments and accessories. On the thread of accessories, new for the house is a sculptural gilded motif of a Chloé kiss. Scaling up and down as hardware, we see its lips gracing belts, jewelry, and the Hobo and Moulded Clutch bags. The all-new Hailey handbag also appears in calfskin leather, the classic Daria is stamped with Kent’s print, and keyhole sandals boots are made of layered leather, canvas, and suede for added edge.