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News Fashion Weeks
Paris New Gen: French Designers Take Over The City of Lights
Friday, Dec 3, 2010, 1:00 PM / Paris, France
Who said that there were no more French designers showing in Paris? While it is true that the fashion capital has always had a tradition of discovering and promoting global talent, there’s a new wave of local designers rocking the boat and offering a fresh take on Gallic aesthetics. If contemporary lines – such as Isabel Marant and Vanessa Bruno – have risen their profile lately and been particularly successful abroad, a small group of French designers is turning to Haute Couture, innovation and experimentation as a way to establish their own design identity.
The youngest of the bunch, Maxime Simoëns is Paris’ new fashion darling, creating a real buzz amongst the industry. His uncanny resemblance to a young Yves Saint Laurent is baffling insiders who see true hope in his polished, ultra-elegant -but also innovative- clothes. Eric Daman, costume designer for US series Gossip Girl, has borrowed several of his looks and Carine Roitfeld, editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, personally visited his studio to find out what he was all about. Despite only being in his twenties, Simoëns already has an enviable CV. He interned at Elie Saab, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Christian Dior, before joining Nicolas Ghesquière’s studio at Balenciaga, where he was working on embroidery and prints. The Frenchman had his own fashion calling when he saw a Madonna concert in 2001: “It was there that I became aware of my real vocation. I remember I had bought the programme for the show, in which the costumes, created by Gaultier, were illustrated. My first objective became clear: I had to work for him.” Simoëns’ clothes are structured, geometric and sensual. His second collection managed to combine a very precise sense of cut with a love for decoration. Using a cross motif on several of his dresses, he added an attractive touch of goth devotion to his timeless clothes.
If Simoëns’ work qualifies as “demi-couture”, Alexandre Vauthier and Julien Fournié are fully fledged couturiers. Vauthier’s clothes are not for the faint-hearted and his last collection echoed the work of 80s Paris superstars, such as Claude Montana and Thierry Mugler. Former Head Designer at Gaultier Couture, he has presented four collections so far, imagining a fierce woman oozing with strength and confidence. There’s something almost predatory about Vauthier’s ladies. Their fur chubbies, transparent tops and belted dresses scream sex and recall the heady days of Parisian clubbing, when Le Palace and Régine were the places to be seen. Even though he designs daring clothes for modern day glamazons, Vauthier is a reserved character and rarely talks about his work.
Julien Fournié’s approach is more poetic and complex. Despite having only presented three collections, his refined aesthetics and dark romanticism are getting him noticed. His last show – called Premier Hiver – was moving and powerful, with delicate bustier dresses, chic draped separates and long skirts, worn with fitted jackets. His vision of Couture is more conceptual and almost metaphysical. As he puts it: “My collections are always inspired by human vulnerability. In my last show, I was interested by the aesthetics of pain, questioning the ambiguous beauty of a tortured, blown-up or scraped body. I also explored the idea of martyrdom, how the spirit can rise above physical suffering to elevate itself.” He used anatomical features, drawing raw muscles with a ball point pen on flesh coloured leather pants. Prosthetic elements appeared, too, giving an interesting twist to stunning outfits. Fournié’s vision is unique, dangerous and compelling. Think Helmut Newton meets Arthur Rimbaud.
On the menswear front, Romain Kremer is one of the most inspiring figures in Paris. No wonder Nicola Formichetti, recently appointed Creative Director at Thierry Mugler, chose him to design the mens’ line. Kremer has a strong point of view and love for the avant-garde, which he defends in his work: “I think my clothes are a compromise between what my dreams are and what feeds me in reality, including the everyday. I don’t really have a specific process when it comes to making them. It can be purely instinctive, or the result of thinking about something for weeks. I guess my being a former dancer means there’s always a strong sense of physicality in what I do. I’m almost more interested in the way bodies give shape to garments as opposed to the garment itself.” Protective elements and monochrome silhouettes are often part of his shows, like the strong winter collection he presented last January. Despite their futuristic and clean lines, there was something almost animalistic about his men, ready to fight or conquer the world. In a way, Kremer’s energy is a good summary of what these new designers are all about. They’re bold, fearless, but sensitive at the same time.
Philippe Pourhashemi | TribaSpace
Couture, Creation, Ready-to-Wear
Markets: Men's, Other, Women's
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