PARIS — After four weeks, four countries and hundreds of shows; after protests in Italy and the Olympics and the Oscars; after the emergence of the 1980s and shirtdresses and silver foil and argyle and ponchos as the ubiquitous trends; on the eve of International Women’s Day (which is either a cosmic coincidence or fate, depending on your point of view), the fashion season finally came to end in the Lefuel courtyard of the Louvre.
The internal square was built between 1854 and 1857, when it was used primarily as a passage for horses, and it had never been open to the public. But Louis Vuitton has a longstanding relationship with the museum, and it needed a big, open space for the show. So on Wednesday in the fashion world stumbled, only to discover what looked like the landing pad for a giant intergalactic spaceship at the end of the ramps that once led the animals into the stables. Now, they were a runway, down which came a parade of Starship Troopers in vestiges of the outfits of the French female bourgeoisie.
There’s a metaphor in there, if anyone cares to dig it up.
But though backstage the designer Nicolas Ghesquière said he and his staff had countless conversations about #MeToo, this was not really #ThatToo. At least not beyond the fact that if we learned anything from this season, and designers working at this particular time, it is that all women’s wear should be by definition about #MeToo (about empowerment and a celebration of personal agency). And it should be an underlying presumption of the form, as opposed to an overlay.
That’s why, even three months after Azzedine Alaïa’s death, the brand’s showroom was packed with retailers ordering the next collection (made by the studio from his designs). Which involved, in part, wool swing coats with collars that frame the neck like a sculpture and with elaborate scribbles of hand-appliqued leather string, like a language only the wearer could read. Plus sleeveless dresses pieced together from half-moon panels of fabric in a graduated cone, so the bodice hugged the torso and the skirt swayed just a little with the walk, engineered to harness the body’s resonance.
Why the line also included a new capsule of reissued designs from the mid-‘80s and ‘90s (thick ribbed sweaters with nipped-in waists; blouson backs and matching miniskirts; malleable shearling jackets with embroideries up the sides) that wore their date on their tags, because if they didn’t, you’d never know when they were made.
The whole point of this exercise remained the same: to create garments that make the wearer feel confident/stronger/better/more fully herself. That should not be a trend or response to a cultural moment. It should be a given.
So when Miuccia Prada, for example, said her Miu Miu was about sharing her ideas with others and then leaving it to them to decide what they liked and how they thought it should work, it sounded pretty good. Though the offerings that followed — stonewashed jeans and matching extra-blouson bomber jackets; mega tweeds and miniskirts; shirred metallic jacquard sheaths and rainbow leathers — largely seemed to describe a cast of stock personality types: the ‘50s bombshell, the ‘80s Wham! fan, the glass-ceiling cracker, all overlaid with a dose of 21st irony.
And when Mr. Ghesquière explained his time travel (as opposed to regular travel, which has long been a Vuitton thing) by saying, “We all have the experience of having more and more information about what we believe will be our future, and more and more information about what was our past. In between those things is how we define our present,” it also made sense.
Hence the set, and hence the clothes, which took the 1970s French working woman and plunked her in a galaxy far, far away with the turn of a heel.
Tweed was paired with stargate shirting; the shoulders big and space-striped, like a pseudo-mantle; skirt suits layered under cosmic vests. The LV logo had been given an aerodynamic frame. Jolie madame on the bottom, sci-fi on top! A little scattershot overall. But haute Hollywood metallic silk halter-neck tops with athletic corsets atop black tuxedo trousers captured the best way to take off: under your own steam.