In honour of International Women’s’ Day: some thoughts on the last Paris Fashion Week

Steffy B at Miu Miu, Paris Fashion Week 2020
Between coronavirus anxiety and Tuesday’s pension fund protest sending armed police into the street, making parts of Paris resemble a war zone once again — female designers’ leading brands like Chanel, Dior and Miu Miu gave us some welcome moments of pure escape.
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MiuMiu: a collection for women by women

Miuccia has always represented the image of the strong, assertive, independent, cultured and chic woman. For her last Miu Miu show, she presented a reminder of ‘charm as positivity and empowerment’: the power of fashion to spark joy.
The dresses were meant not to impress or be successful, but just to help you be yourself.

Casual, elegant, sophisticated, summer and business looks, all with playful colours were seen on cape-shaped dresses, long coats, puffy shouldered jackets and skinny leggings. The collection showcased many different body shapes, making it highly inclusive for all women, dressed with bold and glorious style, too — from lemon to lavender and fire engine red.

"The enduring fascination of charm, an exercise in attraction — fashioning pleasure, and the pleasure that fashion can give"

Fashionista

The soundtrack and setting rendered the entire atmosphere nostalgic, ruminating on the passage of time. The generous scattering of crystals in the collection: music from ‘Cabaret’ and the soundtracked voice of Bowie echoed an idea of early 20s and 30s Paris, which was buzzing with the creative insurrection of art, cinema and haute couture, lifting spirits during the Great Depression.

On the MiuMiu Paris Fashion Show, SteffyB commented: “The show was amazing. The collection was fantastic; the vibe was great; the models were like each of us: this inclusive collection reflected the many shapes and sizes of womanhood: a great plus from Miuccia. A collection of looks that enhances the wearer’s personality and communicated boldness. Strong, playful, classy women.”

Chanel: a new era of freedom

“Freedom!” declared Virginie Viard during a fitting in Chanel’s atelier, thinking about the sort of wind-in-the-hair freedom that a horse rider feels as they’re running towards the landscape: this idea of liberation was portrayed in the latest collection, showing woman-friendly pieces that represented the House identity and together reinforced Viard’s pragmatic instincts for comfortable, insouciant, no-nonsense glamour. The show was a hymn to modern femininity, which was less high-wattage glamourous, yet opting for unassuming elegance rooted in beautifully crafted clothes. The main inspiration came from 80s photographs of Karl Lagerfeld and his muse Anna Piaggi, both dressed in the height of Edwardian-revival finery. Models came out in pairs and sometimes in threes with naturally made-up faces and gently windswept hair half tied back.

Chanel Fall/Winter 20/21

The looks included iconic pieces, such as bouclé skirts and dresses, velvet jockey hats, side-buttoned wide-legged jodhpurs, A-line tweed coats and knee riding boots, reflecting a freer silhouette that moves with ease, in the same way as when Gabrielle-Coco Chanel released women’s silhouettes from corsets. Shorts were tailored in tweed, fringed skirts featured high slits and off-shoulder cocktail dresses featured bulbous sleeves but none felt overtly sexy; rather, there was a soft sensuality that was captivating and poetic (Forbes).

Taken together with the chunky, eye-catching statement jewellery that hung around necks and encircled waists, the whole collection telegraphed the arrival of new Chanel women, who were smiling and chatting to each other like conspiratorial friends, reinforcing the idea of female empowerment and freedom.

Dior: showcasing the importance of consent and the #metoo movement

In recent years at the creative command of the Maison Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri has adopted a much more sophisticated visual style, showing the brand as conscious, engaged and value-driven – identities that appeal to modern consumers. The show featured several neon signs with a feminist background: at the beginning of the show, the word #consent was the first to light up, referring to Harvey Weinstein’s turnip conviction. More illuminations followed, reading ‘Patriarchy kills love’ and ‘Women’s love is unpaid labour’.

Space was conceived in collaboration with Claire Fontaine, an art collective who works with neon signs and subverts them by unexpected juxtaposition. Even the floor of the catwalk was conceived as an art space, full of newspapers as a symbol of how the noise of the outside world affects the world of art. Chiuri has consistently promoted feminist ideologies, since her inaugural collection, showing tees with the slogan “We Should All Be Feminists“. Chiuri is also the first woman to hold the title of one of the biggest jobs in the industry and one that wields tremendous influence However, this pressure has never discouraged her from pursuing her idea of fashion and the importance of issues surrounding women’s rights.

The Dior collaboration ‘revolves around the performative use of language typical of non-reformist feminism,’ as they explained, presenting refined suits, streamlined V-neck dresses, loose trousers, and baggy distressed tops. Sexuality was at a minimum: even a look that had a diaphanous blouse that featured a bra top underneath conveyed nothing wanton about it (Bazaar).

The colour palette included black and white, muted brown, green, and red tones, and the abundance of check patterns along with the bandanas and newsboy caps. Two pieces that recalled societal bureaucracy at the time of novels Urinetown and Les Misérables.

Despite the doubts regarding the effectiveness of the brand’s most promoted, what unites these latest shows is the idea that Fashion is meant to reflect the times we live in, grounded in reality. While it is certainly important for fashion and luxury brands to advocate certain sensitive causes in our society,  it is also vital that these actions continue beyond the end of the show and outside the fashion week scenes to give women a strong voice and opportunities to celebrate self-empowerment through what they wear.

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Copyright ©2020 Steffy B, all rights reserved.

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