Yohji Yamamoto: Artistic Playground
Who wears black like the Spanish - those proud and noble women with even their faces shielded by a traditional lace veil?
And there was Yohji Yamamoto with his kind of black, in fabrics that drape and shape the body, always subtle, never playing coquette.
The designer was thinking of Spain with his finale, featuring a group of women in black, from hood-to-toe.
“Those people at the end were 17th century Spanish girls who would cover themselves when they go out in the evening and only unveil if they liked someone," Yohji explained.
He also said that these figures were “beyond fashion” - which just about sums up his style, with its firm yet liquid shapes. The silhouette was slim, whether a black dress cut from sharp shoulders that, further down, fanned into pleats, or a puffy collar standing up from the neck with everything below super-lean.
Just when models in long soft dresses had walked serenely by, with just tiny triangles of flesh revealed at the back or on the sleeves, there was a new masterclass. A literal one, as models wore more sporty garments with streaks of colour on black, over whites blouses with the scribbles of an artist at play.
Then it was back to black, Yohji’s comfort zone, but also his playground, where white stitching edging a loose coat tells a little story - and a great tangle of white threads makes a bold statement. Then more drama, with brightly coloured effects, like a splodgy painted surface, before it was back, yet again, to black: the Spanish women who closed this imaginative show.
Olivier Theyskens: Mysterious Beauty
Both technically and emotionally Olivier Theyskens is a very fine designer. With minimal financial support compared to the big brands, he produced everything needed for a powerful show.
First, there was the set - one of those Parisian buildings that has miraculously survived intact, with faded flowers and gilded lines patterning the walls and light streaming through a big window.
After making a come back in high fashion via a historic cafe at a Parisian railway station, this setting caught the faded grandeur and dark storytelling seen in Theyskens' early haute fashion career at Rochas.
Here, everything was just right - especially the clothes. No one can do mysterious beauty better than Theyskens, and many different emotions came through, starting with the curvy black jacket, tracing the body line until the slim skirt flared out at the hem.
After this first sweet severity, the silhouette re-appeared, whether it was a sheer lace top and satin skirt or a bold suit with woven wool. The focus throughout was on the upper part of the body with low cut, portrait bust lines that looked sweet rather than overly sexy - visible bras included.
Theyskens called his look backward as ‘retro-futurism”, referring to the 1982 science fiction movie Blade Runner which is set in 2019.
Glamorous satin dresses in shocking pink or scarlet, showing a triangle of flesh at the hips, looked more like Hollywood today than the movie version. But with his sense of black used as a colour in different fabrics, and his gentle, womanly touch, Theyskens' show was a treasure.
Yohji Yamamoto Autumn/Winter 2019 Ready-To-Wear