Fashion: Revenge of the old masters

It is the old school of designers such as Kawakubo, Miyake and Yamamoto - not the young guns - who have grasped the secret of modernity.

It was supposed to be the season that Paris stole the shows; the season when the new guard of French fashion pulled rank and showed the rest of the world the path that leads to the sartorial future.

Not since the beginning of the decade have there been quite so many off- schedule shows that promised great things. And at least new names are emerging from a scene that has been stagnant too long. The bright hopes that have been brought into the luxury goods houses, from Michael Kors at Celine and Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton to Narciso Rodriguez at the Spanish leather house, Loewe, have proved that their jobs are to be safe and commercial - to sell bags, shoes and leather belts. There are few innovations there. And at Balenciaga, the 26-year-old French designer, Nicolas Ghesquiere - who, along with one of the new Belgians on the block, Olivier Theyskens, has forged a good relationship with Madonna's stylist, which is always a clever move - is taking himself and his severely modernist collection far too seriously at so young an age.

There were some high spots: An and Arikx Vandevorst, the partnership from Antwerp, showed their first collection on the Paris runway. The theme of their collection was "clothes that look like you slept in them". And that is just what the models did. The show took place in a makeshift dormitory with a bed for each model to sleep on until it was her time to take her sleepy head up and down the catwalk to show off their crumpled, layered looks.

AF Vandevorst have a hard act to follow. The Belgians in Paris, who are now well established, include Martin Margiela. He showed his favourite ideas from the past three years in a typically informal show where the models dressed in trompe -l'oeil prints and patched-together denim strolled through the dilapidated house of socialite Sao Schlumberger in semi-darkness. Ann Demeulemeester and Dries Van Noten also offered more highlights in a week when they were few and far between.

Sharon Wauchob is Irish, an ex-graduate of Central Saint Martins. There was an impressive turnout of buyers and press to see her second show, and there were some pretty clothes and gentle shapes that were well worth the trip. Sharon also designs for Louis Vuitton and she knows how to make her creativity sellable. And there was Gaspard Yurkievich who showed his linear, geometric and elegant collection on models who walked before the audience on imaginary high heels. For really conceptual footwear, Benoit Meleard launched his first shoe collection, cleverly cashing in on an area of fashion not too over-subscribed. Previously, he has worked for Charles Jourdan and Robert Clergerie. He has also designed the shoes for the American upstart, Jeremy Scott, which is perhaps something he should keep quiet about. Scott has, it seems, become a victim of his own hype and his exaggerated pointy shoulders are almost as ridiculous as his ego.

Best of all was ex-Helmut Lang assistant, Kostas Murkudis, who drew lightly from his Greek background with references to the uniforms of the Greek army, but who showed a collection that pinpointed all the key trends, delivered a strong and original point of view, and had a lightness of touch and a sense of humour. There were dresses decorated with strands of brightly coloured ribbon (ribbons were a recurring theme throughout the shows), punky raw edges and zips, as well as the inevitable military- utility that will sell. Murkudis already has several outlets in the UK - not only does he have ideas and creativity, he has sorted out his commercial side as well - and he is a name worth watching.

It was not the new names who stole the shows, however, much as press and buyers wanted them to. Karl Lagerfeld re-invented Chanel, designing his collection around the new space age 2005 aerodynamically moulded bag. It is a smart move, giving the label a whole new lease of life. There is nothing quite like experience in the fashion world and, while youth has idealism and innovation on its side, some of the old stalwarts of Paris - or more accurately, Japan - still know how to push the boundaries forward. Issey Miyake, Comme des Garcons and Yohji Yamamoto have all grasped something that few others have: the secret of modernity. To be modern does not have to mean boring, although try telling some of the American designers that. Yohji Yamamoto is approaching 60. He showed his first collection in Tokyo in 1977, and joined the Paris calendar in 1981. Seventeen years on he is still capable of setting Paris ablaze with a collection full of wit, humour, ideas and energy. On the simple theme of the wedding dress, he managed to costruct clothes that told a story, that were full of integrity and humanity.

Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons is of the same generation as Yohji Yamamoto and must be acknowledged as one of the most influential designers of her times. Her own collections are often misunderstood or simply too challenging to take in. But she continues in her own uncompromising way, challenging preconceived ideas about clothes and the body within them. Even her younger protege, Junya Watanabe, whose collection for summer was designed around mouldings of six different body shapes - some stooped and hump-backed - cannot outshine or outwit Kawakubo. Her experiments twisting and draping fabric have been adopted by designers from Jean Paul Gaultier - who paid hommage to geisha girls and the Japanese kimono in a sensational collection by another designer who is no longer a spring chicken - to AF Vandevorst.

Kawakubo's new look for spring is positively two dimensional and flat. A pattern piece from a jacket was sewn on to another one and turned back from the centre front. The collection was simple and plain, without being severe. A purple dress with scalloped edges was worn with a blue dress placed on the front like an overgrown brooch. A techno lace dress was worn with a one-sleeved bolero jacket on top. The silhouette was slim and neat. For once with Comme des Garcons, each piece was recognisable as traditional clothing, but only Rei Kawakubo can make something so simple so beautiful, and so relentlessly modern.

Issey Miyake is one of the century's greatest textile and fashion innovators: for spring, the designer has made the ultimate fashion statement, clothes that you can cut out and make yourself. It works a bit like Ikea: you go to the shop and buy the flatpack, take it home, follow the instructions and - if all goes well - half an hour later, voila! You have a new summer wardrobe. Miyake is quite a genius. His new invention is called A-POC: A Piece of Cloth.

"This process not only suggests a new way of making clothes that is fun and which creates a dialogue between the designer and the wearer, but also offers a means by which to conserve fabric and reduce waste," read the notes which accompanied the show. "The possibilities for further development are limitless; we welcome the new epoch with A-POC!"

Now this is what fashion designers should be doing: finding solutions to problems instead of causing problems where there were none to start with. Hidden within each rectangular tube of stretch nylon (with cotton where the garment touches the body) is a dress, a shirt, a skirt, a pair of pants, a jumpsuit, socks, underwear, a cap, bags and a belt. A whole wardrobe, in fact, to cut out and wear. And what's more, the tubes of fabric are produced on an industrial knitting machine programmed by a computer, which means they can be mass produced and therefore will be relatively affordable. It is a whole wardrobe easy to travel with, washable and - get this - no ironing is necessary. Now that really is modern.

Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower