Author Archives: Dorothée Perret

COMME DES GARÇONS — WINTER 2020

One could question the location Rei Kawakubo chose this season to present her Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2019/2020 collection. She picked the hall of a neoclassical building on rue Cambon—though not the famous number 29! As always, Kawakubo intervenes with the space. Here she created a stage from the marble flooring, overlaid with strips of red-passé carpet. This small arena is enclosed by a few rows of benches and six long, lighted perches—the same machines that will later follow each model in an idiosyncratic ballet, giving the set a futuristic twist. As usual, the assembly is small, but one should know Kawakubo is not here to convince a large audience, but rather one that focuses.

Silence. The show is about to start. The lights turn off, the room is dark, and the ambiance feels quite enigmatic. Rei Kawakubo holds her crowd in a meditative state for one minute of silence. Strangely, this minute feels like eternity—long enough to understand the roles that gravity and magnitude play in this collection. Finally the show starts, with a discontinuous soundtrack from the back. One by one each model comes out to follow the patch of a square—making sure to pass by every corner—and meet at the center. Yet we feel a sense of disorder on stage, and in the air. 


The ambiance is austere: each silhouette is uniquely worked with fastidious details and crafted in a range of solid black materials that echo throughout the space like shadows of knights stepping out of the nightfall. This season, Kawakubo envelops her women in a voluminous armor, dark and rigid. The collection recalls medieval and ecclesiastical themes reinterpreted in a raw couture spirit. One purple garment questions signs of royalty. As always, Kawakubo dazzles with radical strength and bold engagement.

RICK OWENS — WINTER 2020

Of all the Parisian designers, RICK OWENS is certainly the one who best captures the essence of the city. For Fall/Winter 2019/2020, he dedicates his prêt-à-porter collection to Larry Legaspi. “Larry who? Never heard of him!” That’s okay, and this is why we love Rick, a great mentor who told us, “Larry was the man responsible for the silver and black space-sleaze looks of LaBelle and Kiss in the 1970s.”

Rick is a man who strongly relates to history. Sixteen years ago, when he moved from Los Angeles to Paris, he located his atelier and boutique—perversely—in the historic, highly refined neighborhood between place Bourbon and the Palais Royal. Charles James—America’s first couturier—had a great influence on Rick, who shamelessly admits he “knocked off [James’] cocoon coat, and reinterpreted it in raw-seamed shearling, nutria, and duvet.” (This season Rick wrote the preface to Charles James: The Couture Secrets of Shape, a contemporary reading of the twentieth-century couturier, edited by Homer Layne and Dorothea Mink.)

Rick is a great innovator who likes to reinvent himself by mixing past and futuristic imagination in present time. This fall and winter, his women will follow a graver, more solemn path. At Palais de Tokyo, the room is troubled, almost opaque, punctured by single points of light emitting from the high-ceiling. The atmosphere is raw like in a temple, keeping the audience alert. One by one, enigmatic figures pass in a slow march, one that welcomes questions and doubts: goddesses draped whole à la Fortuny; hybrid women in subtle yet vivid-colored leather overalls; half-naked girls wearing razor-cut, high-shouldered, raw silk jackets. The rhythm is slow but steady, and this procession gives a feeling of change, of a weird mutation. Thankfully the warm voice on the soundtrack—Michèle Lamy, Rick’s beautiful wife and the love of his life—restores confidence. This binding relationship shared publicly reinforces the trust we feel in Rick’s fashion.

Rick is a wizard who reminds us that with love and dedication, we can find beauty in a fragmented and sometimes unwelcoming world.

Photos © 2019 OwensCorp, France

OLIVIER THEYSKENS — SPRING 2019

Olivier Theyskens’ spring 2019 collection—though presented in a warehouse during daylight hours—continued to touch on the darker, somber side of nature.

It started with headpieces fashioned from sticks of wood painted black, and it carried on through the prints picturing Hans Bellmer’s famous Doll series. The collection is comprised mostly of dresses, where their fabrics and assemblages woke up some real gothic spirits. Lingerie, corset, lace, patent leather, and transparent knitted cashmere offered a view of the flesh, which was sometimes covered by a pair of long sleeves.

Theyskens here again confirms his personal take on fashion, and a secular soul to accompany it.

VALENTINO — SPRING 2019

It was in the warmth of a late fall afternoon—in a sun parlor with succulent plants, on a soft white carpet—that the spring 2019 collection of Valentino was presented. Valentino is one of the oldest and most traditional Italian maisons, based in the historic city of Rome. Today, between the guests present and the models parading along, this captivating spirit of high fashion was well celebrated.

To set the tone, the designer PIERPAOLO PICCIOLI opened the march with KRISTEN MCMENAMY, one of the most unconventional models from the nineties era. But this move and, simply, her pride to exhibit her beautiful cascade of natural white hair—falling on a thick, generous black silk robe—felt here simply right and pleasant. There was something comforting in the air. The collection later exposed a wide range of beautiful dresses­—studied silhouettes in ample volumes and precious materials. The round of colors—dark chocolate, spicy orange, dusty pink, and Valentino red—produced a worship of good taste.

After all, with Valentino we’re in the culture of couture, where good behavior and opulence meet, and PICCIOLI is a designer who understands its language very well—who translates it to the present day with agreeable intensity and serene calm.

LUTZ — SPRING 2019

Lutz invited his audience to the Salle Pleyel in Paris to present his spring 2019 collection. While the red light on the red carpet recalled a nightclub ethos, the Art Deco style of the room harks back to classical and traditional qualities in the atmosphere.

His collection followed this path with rigorous cuts and odd techniques, and illustrated well the breach between past and present times. There was a feeling of couture in the air: a puff-cocktail dress in jacquard under a man’s trench coat, a range of pearls adjusted on the waist to underline a polka-dot dress worn with a bomber jacket. Lutz uses contrasting materials and opposing styles to write stories about people, their differences in age and gender, and how the act of dressing could set them free.

Lutz is a designer whose concerns about gender equality have always been an important part of his practice. It’s a steady course he has pursued since the mid-nineties. Today, his singular fashion is finally meeting a broader audience.