Paris Women’s Fashion Week F/W 2019 Part 1: Courrèges and Koché
The City of Light is boasting one of the best line-ups ever. For example cutting-edge fashion from Marine Serre, big-ticket productions from Saint Laurent while still awaiting the emotional climax at Chanel. We’re here to tell you about what matters.
Courrèges F/W 2019
You know we are always looking for the German angle in our coverage of international fashion. And you know that’s not a walk in the park. But here is a great story. The new Yves and Pierre or Calvin and Barry are from Germany called Yolanda and Christina. That’s Yolanda Zobel and Christina Ahlers, designer and CEO of the new Courrèges. More history: Last year the two advertising world executives Jacques Bungert and Frédéric Torloting sold their shares to Artémis, French billionaire François Pinault’s family holding company. Artémis had already held 40 percent and then acquired full ownership. The previous creative directors Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant, who closed their own ANDAM-winning brand Coperni when they joined, had more or less a good run at the house. But it seems that the two advertising world and immediate return-socialized minds of Bungert and Torloting were not made for fashion and they got cold feet and got out of fickle fashion. So a head hunter called Christina Ahlers at Acne who did a great job there building a profile for a Swedish jeaner as a serious designer. She took the challenge and was offered carte blanche to pick her designer. Sounds like a fashion fairy tale? But it’s the truth. And she picked Yolanda Zobel, before a freelance gun for hire with strong tastes. This new team delivered their second show today in Oscar Niemeyer’s Parisian Communist party building. It was very good and thought provoking.
What we liked?
This is the moment for brands that put thought into their collections. And Zobel’s way of creating an inclusive fashion experience feels new. She even reshaped her show space to feel like a communal hub where guests belonged and not merely visited. Even adding a theater performance of three actors hijacking the catwalk and giggling their way through the audience. Odd, but charming. Zobel clearly wants to challenge her audience. That’s courageous and a trait designers rarely demonstrate these days as they are more concerned about creating instantly recognizable logos.
Zobel is clearly good at milking an archive. The shapes are clearly space age but by adding layers of fur to the surfaces of traditionally plastic jackets made for an artisanal moment. She has a deft hand at engineering the boxy silhouettes to make them feel warmer and body conscious. The collection was not pleasing to the eye but clearly thought out.
This is a project that has the proper financial backing to endure a few seasons to attract a new customer who is veering for the emotional and sustainable niche. While not being a winner at first bat, Zobel’s clothes do not leave you untouched. If that works with the jaded press, it can only do wonders with customers. Let’s see.
The men’s wear based on short jackets and high-waisted pants felt like a strong statement on silhouette and when rendered in two-tone denim looks, soared.
Zobel could be a graphic designer as her innate understanding of creating novelty through geometric shapes and color coding on pockets and belts was outstanding.
Koché F/W 2019
Every designer is looking for a signature. It’s an absolute must-have in today’s crowded market. The Alsatian creatrice Christelle Kocher who goes by the moniker Koché for her namesake brand has found hers yesterday. She is the artistic director of Maison d’Art Lemarié in her day job. Yes, that’s part of the Chanel Group and means she is an expert in the trade of feathers and flower embroidery since 2010 – working directly with Karl Lagerfeld and Virginie Viard. Just another testament to Lagerfeld’s greatness and generosity as he has always fully supported Christelle in the pursuit of building her own brand. When she linked up with local football club Paris Saint-Germain for her Spring/Summer 2018 Koché collection to riff on the team’s jersey by adding Couture like deconstruction techniques, she got on the industry’s radar. Her splicing of performance fabrics with sumptuous lace created new sports couture hybrids looks. In fact, very memorable and fresh looking. Since then her Polo’s and Rugby and football jerseys have become important parts of the athleisure wave in fashion marking her very own territory. Yesterday, she took on the huge challenge of filling a stadium show space to present her most refined and impressive vision of football fashion Couture to date. Supported by Nike, her Bercy runway spectacle pulled out all the stops when it comes to merging Couture with athletic vibrations. Her feather hats and jersey gowns were simply outstanding and marked a new level of achievement. When we had our “Fanatic Feelings” exhibition during Pitti Uomo in June 2018, Koché generously provided her spin on the national jerseys of all the countries represented in the World Cup in Russia. During that summer she took over a cruise ship in Marseille to spearhead the rebirth of the Côte D’Azur as credible fashion destination. Let’s say this, this is a woman on a mission.
The fusion element?
When the closing look featured a full on Couture like white feather hat combined with a ski race suit adorned with a billowing feather skirt, you knew that something got mixed up. In a good way.
The tailoring message?
Kocher opened the show with a single-breasted and cinched waist jacket in red worn with barely there shorts and kept revisiting this totally sporty silhouette during the show in a blue double breasted version.
What we loved?
The high-waisted black pants with multi pleats worn with a stripy top or cascading bow tank showed off her precise tailoring.
It was like being at Madison Square Garden just to name one mythic sports arena. The overhead screens and billboards were all filled with Koché imagery announcing her models as actual players. Never seen that before.
Keeping it real?
The massive crowds of fans and groupies outside the venue already spoke for the label’s street relevance. But even with a bigger budget, Kocher stays with her proven formula of street casting with real models. So many of her closing looks which riffed heavy on football fashion as a long haired guy in a multi-color velvet suit or a lace and floral embroidered team color shift dress, dazzled.