Michael the III names the definitely not made-up best and worst collections, models, and hot spots of Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2019.
I have just returned from France where I have received several indications that yes, fashion definitely is changing. On runways models no longer walk up and down, but now side to side and without gusto. Backstage, models are changing too: into garments of faux-leather, faux-fur, and if you ask some cranky critics—faux-fashion. But what’s given rise to such dramatic turns in the industry? Does anyone even know where we’re going or what is going on? The answer is no. Still, fashion marches fashionably forward and I, an often cantankerous commentator myself, have no choice but to partake, critique, and sort. It is thus, with great honor, that I introduce the highs and lows of the Fashion Olympics: Paris Fashion Week.
BEST: Esmée Du Loire Fall/Winter 2019—Do you remember Esmée Du Loire? Likely not. Esmée was once a contemporary of Coco Chanel, but she lacked a photogenic stairwell and fell out of favor by the late 1940s. Until this season, the legendary brand once known as the first fashion house to design clothing for terriers was more Bella Lugosi than Bella Hadid, but thanks to the mind of incumbent designer/social media manager Camille Constantine, it flourishes once more. The newest collection—a first since 1953—was designed in conjunction with Instagram. “First,” Camille said via direct message, “We did a poll. Then, we posted some of our best designs from the archive. The ones that got the most likes were recreated with modern touches.” The result? Evening gowns that are also hoodies, 18 types of sneaker hybrids, and a collection of branded suitcases that double as iPhone cases. Just plug your suitcase in, and go!
WORST: Tartemucha Fall/Winter 2019—We all know that Guillaume Tartemucha is without a doubt, Paris’s designer du jour. This season, he did not disappoint anyone but me. Known for his delicate, almost flowery style, his latest collection, Pockets I & II, is severely utilitarian. Heralded already as one of the great fashion moments of the decade, it was indeed innovative if not completely repetitive. The entirety of each garment was created from pockets sewn together and there were pockets in those pockets too, and each interior pocket was gifted with a miniature-pouch onto which was sewn yes, yet another pocket. “What have you got in your pockets?” I inquired at his after-after party. He looked at me, insulted. “I don’t use pockets, Monsieur.”
Food & Drink
BEST: La Mystère—The fashionable crowd, it seems, hangs out at champagne bars, and none is so decorated with the sartorial elite as La Mystère. It was there that I saw an Issey Miyake dress mingle with a goofy, poofy Dior skirt. A pair of Margiela pants flirted with an erect Saint Laurent shoulder pad, though was later seen making an exit with her cousin, a Hedi Slimane does Céline blazer. Sexual tension truly bubbles over at La Mystère, and the bubbles aren’t too bad either. I left with only the seed of a hangover, two corks, and a potential lover wearing Comme des Garçons.
WORST BUT STILL AMAZING: La Candalle—If fine dining is what you’re after, you could try the usual bistros or you can go for something different at La Candalle. It was there that I ordered the vegan lobster and a white wine but was given the Blanquette de Veau and a bottle of red instead. The atmosphere is quaint, quiet, and cosy. If you seek a randomized dining experience, ask for Jean-Marc—the head waiter who got my order wrong in all the right ways. At La Candalle, you you’ll never be disappointed with what you requested (because you won’t get it). Personally, I always like the element of surprise, and so the best part of the meal was the bill. As it turns out the veal was much cheaper, but I was still charged for the vegan lobster. Thanks Jean-Marc! I definitely recommend this for all those expecting the wanton frivolity of Paris.
TOP NEWCOMER: Ex-01-R Green—One of my favorites this season was Ex-01-R Green. You may have not yet heard her name, but she’s on her way to becoming one of planet Earth’s most sought-after models. Ex-01-R is a boundary breaker. In 2018, she became the first alien to appear on the cover of Le Figaro when her spacecraft made its graceful landing in the south of France. “I come in peace,” she said in strikingly perfect French, waving and posing editorially toward the cameras, “but I am here to take over fashion”. And boy has she! Get ready folks, the alien invasion has begun!
ACCEPTABLE: Donna Anderson, aka “The Bake Sale Beauty”—For another brilliant casting there is soccer mom-turned-Parisian model Donna Anderson, who was handing out orange slices in Idaho when she was discovered. I spoke to her briefly backstage at the Tartemucha show. “I go to all of Billy’s games,” she said. “That day I was strutting up and down the field to support Billy. Support is big for kids, you know? And a lady, a real nice lady who works for Dior was there visiting her nephew and the next thing I know, little ol’ me was on a plane to Paris!” And to think that was only last summer. Today, Donna has traded her boot-cut jeans bought at the mall for couture bootcut jeans given to her by John Galliano, and she’s not looking back. “I don’t miss it,” she told me. As for Billy, “He’ll be fine,” she said. “They have soccer in France, don’t they?”
WORST: Saula Chahuán—According to insiders, minutes before the Saint-Salmon presentation, mayhem ensued when top model Saula Chahuán left to a fitting with Henry Saint-Salmon’s longtime rival. Fearing fashion disaster, Henry Saint-Salmon hand picked her replacement: a mop. Could she do it? We all wondered when she took her place on the stage. Can she pull it off? The answer was in short: sort of. While other models fidgeted and shifted, the “All-Purpose Microfiber Mop” remained vigilantly posed, camera ready, and surprisingly relatable, if not a little stiff. For my tastes, I’d have preferred a broom or vacuum, but when a buyer spilt wine later in the evening, you can guess who came to the rescue. I’ll give her that.
BEST: The most exclusive party was my hotel room (Room 210 at the Plaza Athénée)—Only 79 people in total were admitted throughout the week, most of whom were not allowed to stay the night. Though several complained refreshments were too few and far between (who exactly did they think was paying for what’s taken from that mini fridge?), those who got to stay overnight night left great reviews about the cuddles.
WORST: In all of Paris, I don’t think there were parties more tiresome this fashion week than those taking place on either side of my hotel room, where actives included knocking on my door to ask us to calm down, banging on the wall (which I kind of liked), calling the lobby, and trying to sleep. All in all, jealousy is not cute, nor does it make for a particularly engaging party.
If at any time you are told by a handsome Parisian with an unshakeable smirk that you can walk from the gay part of town to Charles de Gaulle International Airport in under an hour, please remember that to prove a point, French humor often tends to exaggerate. A good rule is to multiply (or divide, when needed) all French jokes by five and you’ll have reality. Six hours later I arrived in time for the next flight home: happy, tired, and already anticipating next season’s monumental Paris Fashion Week.