Paris Day 4: Peek-A-Boo

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Published October 5, 2009

Junya Watanabe must have been looking at M.C. Escher’s tessellations and dreaming of his ideal chessboard. The collection he presented in an eerie corridor in the L’Institut du Monde Arabe was wound like a tight spring around a vision of checks from orderly to psychedelic. He began with skinny men’s cinched-waist suits in slick blue and gray iridescent silk, with heads wrapped like turbans. Gradually white shirts took over, billowing out like robes and then black and white checks became the order of the day. Starting out small on tunics, they went vinyl for mini skirts, patchworked in balloon shapes and twisted around the body every which way. (JUNYA WATANABE, LOOK 19) Haider Ackermann once told me that his inspiration is a mysterious woman alone in a bar and I think this is probably still true. His clothes exude an alluring melancholy. This time he took suede and morphed it into a sort of military jacket cut out like a T-shirt worn next to the skin with a slinky floor-dragging tube skirt, or over a pareo dress. This woman could be coming home late from a party, or recently returned from a guerrilla war, she is ageless. Ackerman’s sleeves are invariably scrunched up to the elbow, his knits look like thin chain mail and there’s utilitarian patch pockets everywhere in shapes which twist around the body like a restless snake.

Haider Ackermann, Look 16; Ann Demeulemeester, Look 10

 

Ann Demeulemeester took those extra wide leather cummerbunds she first showed for men last summer and put them on women. The cummerbund—the pinnacle of dressing up—worn next to the skin with a skinny men’s suit jacket and a black leather mini: what more does a rock chic need? Huge tangles of zippers  to drape around the neck and as a headdress, naturally, a super cropped blouson in washed silk and one of Ann’s black-and-white abstract seagull print jackets. The off-kilter elegance of Comme des Garçons is both childlike and as joyfully senile as the Mad Woman of Chaillot. Rei Kawakubo has found a new way to shake up the status quo: a mismatched shoulder pad contraption strapped over dresses like a turn-of-the-century orthopaedic device which gave her girls a broken doll allure. The patchwork constructions and transparent mixes of dance hall frills look more like bundles than clothes and to keep things zippy Kawakubo slips them over Lycra bike shorts. (LEFT: COMME DES GARCONS LOOK 3) The hoi polloi has discovered that standing outside of Paris fashion shows is a form of entertainment.  The scene in front of Jean Paul Gaultier’s HQ was frantic.   Throngs of camera-wielding bystanders lined up Cannes Film Festival-style to ogle the latest arrivals: Dita Von Teese, Catherine Deneuve, Rihanna, and Janet Jackson, but also French Vogue‘s Carine Roitfeld.   Gaultier dedicated his show to bad girls and fronted it with highlights from his collaboration with Levi’s from trench coats to his reprisal of the bib overall boosted with hi  signature pointy bra.  And that seemed to set him off.  The rest of the show was an ode to pin-up peek-a-boo underwear as outerwear in broad-shouldered 40s glamour girl style.