Avante Garde at Paris Fashion Week

Between haute couture and avante garde, the French are known for innovation in the fashion industry. Haute couture simply means “high fashion”, but avante garde is a style of dress, architecture, art, and design that can be better understood through example. During the first fashion month of 2017, the following designers debuted these designs for FW17 at Paris Fashion Week.

eachxother
All rights reserved by Each x Other

Each x Other took some bold risks that paid off for a ready-to-wear collection without relying on gimmicks. These crisp lines and structured designs are perfectly avante garde without being too over-the-top.

According to this designer, we need to stick together if we want to change the status quo. The idea behind this collection is no man is an island. Collectives create things; and we need togetherness more than ever in these politically divisive times.

hermes
All rights reserved by Hermes

Hermes delivered this luxurious collection of preppy essentials. The exaggerated and oversized elements of these designs reconciles their preppiness with current trends.

esteban-cortazar
All rights reserved by Esteban Cortazar

At Esteban Cortazar, the oversized trend continued. This comfortable-looking collection is chock full of rich patterns. This avante garde designer is originally from Britain, but now resides and delivers his collections in Paris.

jacquemus
All rights reserved by Jacquemus

This Jacquemus collection is about a Parisian couture girl who falls in love with a gypsy in Southern France. It’s classically preppy, but also comfortable and hinged on the aesthetic principles of avante garde.

veronique-leroy
All rights reserved by Veronique Leroy

Veronique Leroy stood out from the crowd by delivering luxe crushed velvet and high end craftsmanship in his designs. This avante garde collection is such because of the often oversized sleeves and the blingy belts.

junya-watanabe
All rights reserved by Junya Watanabe

This Junya Watanabe collection is all about 1970’s punk. If you’re thinking it’s a little out there, that’s because it is; that’s kind of the point of avante garde. This collection is great because of all of the creative fabric mash-ups and the andogynous aesthetic.

talbot-runhof
All rights reserved by Talbot Runhof

Talbot Runhof once worked for the pentagon, and perhaps that’s why his latest collection is all about the post-truth era. The knit sweaters reading “un-presi-dent-ed” and “lie to me” are a direct criticism of the country which Runhof once called home.

As with most American-turned-Parisian designers, most of these designs borrow from modern streetwear trends. Although Runhof has designed some of the nicest lampshades of the season, he has not compromised on the rich fabrics and textures for which European fashion is renowned.

reem-acra
All rights reserved by Reem Acra

I’d hate to reduce this Reem Acra collection to simply stuffy evening wear, but it kind of is. Ten years ago, most of the stuff you would see on the runway would be eveningwear. Then, designers started taking risks by throwing sweatpants on their models and the streetwear trend was born. Perhaps streetwear sells because it’s relateable and wearable for more than one occasion, but either way, eveningwear collections are diminishing every season.

According to the designer, this collection is about “be[ing] yourself” and saying “yes I can”. Whereas the designs might not be so relateable, the philosophy behind them is; perhaps we would all feel like “yes I can” if we wore decadent gowns like these on the daily.

valentin-yudashkin1
All rights reserved by Valentin Yudashkin

This Valentin Yudashkin collection is also fraught with eveningwear, but these designs rely on structure and solids instead of exaggeration and pattern. They might be red carpet ready, but they’re street ready too.

valentin-yudashkin2
All rights reserved by Valentin Yudashkin

These opulent designs are the perfect marriage between eveningwear and streetwear.

john-galliano1
All rights reserved by John Galliano

At John Galliano, these structured designs made their debut.

john-galliano2
All rights reserved by John Galliano

This collection is a great example of the avante garde aesthetic because of the boxy silhouettes, plunging necklines, and cool hats.

anrealage1
All rights reserved by Anrealage

The FW17 Anrealage runway presentation was anything but conventional, and so were the designs. This collection is markedly post-structuralist; the designer has taken traditional silhouettes and warped them into something new.

anrealage2
All rights reserved by Anrealage

It might be avante garde, but it still looks quite wearable for the catwalk or the sidewalk.

For contrast, let’s have a look at Comme des Garcons FW17. And yes, this is still a ready-to-wear collection.

comme-des-garcons
All rights reserved by Comme des Garcons

If you look up Parisian avante garde in the dictionary, you’ll find Comme des Garcons. The brand was recently noted at the Met Gala; for those of you who don’t know, every year the Met Gala is designated a particular theme by a board of celebrities. This year, Tom Brady, Gisele et. al. chose Comme des Garcons as the theme.

Most of their guests came under fire for not adhering to this theme at all, and instead arriving in trendy, blingy, clingy gowns. Several notables arrived in Comme des Garcons, but it is kind of like cheating to wear something from the actual designer being honoured at the Gala. If I were invited I would have at least stuck with a notable French post-structuralist designer.

rick-owens1
All rights reserved by Rick Owens

Rick Owens would have been more than a suitable choice for the Met Gala this year because it’s over the top, it’s avante garde, and it’s post-structuralism all in one. Avante garde is about experimentation and boundary-pushing, even if it means putting wacky hats on your models every now and again.

rick-owens2
All rights reserved by Rick Owens

The inspiration behind this runway presentation were the ideations of a distracting royal ceremony. It’s distracting all right; but that’s what avante garde is all about.

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