Functionally Fabulous

Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2017

September 27–October 5, 2016: It was an exciting marriage of opposites—utilitarian and ultra-glam—as Aalto, Anne Sofie Madsen and Wanda Nylon made their respective Swarovski Collective debuts at Paris Fashion Week SS17. And this season Christelle Kocher also made an impact, sending out Swarovski-embellished looks at her latest Koché runway show.

The first day set a diverse tone as Aalto’s Tuomas Merikoski wandered through beloved author (and fellow Finn) Tove Jansson’s utopian Moomin universe, Uusi Fantasia (Finnish for “New Fantasy”). We saw loose silhouettes and fluid re-workings of classic shirting and suiting in muted Nordic hues offset with bursts of iridescent, jewel-colored velvet. Decorative detailing included customized Crystal Mesh tableaux featuring Jansson’s motley eccentric characters, as well as Crystal Mesh chokers and glinting crystal “teeth” on painted and embellished leather. Lustrous ropes of crystal pearls worn as hat straps were another standout element.

Another Nordic name to watch, Denmark’s Anne Sofie Madsen, was noticed for a collection that used crystal to shine a light on the awkward interplay between sex appeal and geek-factor. A palette of beige, black and gray was the introverted choice for zipped sports tops, librarian specs, bobby socks, technical fabrics and raw edges, against which she set flashes of extrovert crystal. Crystal Mesh straps were wound around asymmetric silhouettes; a loose rubber mesh top was woven with chunky stones; and an eye-catching bra was crystal-blitzed. With a cast of geek-chic girls taking the middle ground between flawlessly glamorous and businesslike-powerful, the result was a very modern femininity.

All bets were off when French designer Christelle Kocher sprang her Koché show on the thousands of daily visitors to the refurbished Canopéearea of the Forum Des Halles shopping and public transport hub. A mob of models that included Kocher’s friends swaggered around the mall in ever-increasing numbers, mixing streetwear with couture embellishments to the surprise of shoppers, commuters and the fashion elite alike. This collection was about the democratization of high fashion—no front row here, as seats were absent and the glitterati were made to stand among the public to get a view. Kocher’s background in plumasserie (the art of feather working) was apparent in the skillfully embroidered crystallized flowers. Together with opulent textiles such as jacquard, brocade and lace, they made a striking contrast with simple fabrics—jersey, polyester satin and twill cotton—that made up the utilitarian pieces.

What began as a cult rainwear label has this season broken out of its signature vinyl silhouette and been promoted to high fashion’s mainstream. A recent ANDAM Award helped. It meant that Wanda Nylon was the show on everybody’s radar. Talent behind the brand Johanna Senyk didn’t disappoint an expectant crowd as her collection exploded onto the runway rocking a power-woman attitude fueled by a blaze of innovative fabric treatments: an “Electro Sunset” palette was set alight with iridescence, metallics, and shimmering crystal fishnet pieces, while lampshade hats and clutches were studded with larger Swarovski stones. The macs were there, naturally, but the functional wardrobe has not only joined the party, it’s now become its life and soul.


Runway Images
Photography by Dan Lecca