Paris Fashion Week: Make my day - punk rocks the catwalk

 

While commerce remains at the forefront of the minds of the Paris Fashion Week designers, many of whom answer to luxury conglomerates such as PPR and LVMH, providing a fantasy and a sense of spectacle is king.

So what should be made of a return by many to the signatures with which pioneering designers and established houses alike made their name?

Yesterday, Japanese avant-garde designer Junya Watanabe delivered a collection based on the biker jacket: a garment he has continually worked into his designs.

The jacket was reworked into short, structured dresses, the stiff leather on the bodice juxtaposed with softer fabrics such as wool and chiffon: one even had the look of a biker-cum-evening gown.

Jeans too, were re-visited and patch-worked in a way that looked haphazard, but was, of course, meticulously placed. With the addition of plaid wool, another of Watanabe's signatures, zips, and pale-skinned models with matted and teased hair, the collection had a typically anarchic look tapping intothe season's punk and rock'n'roll trend.

The collective rebellion taking hold of designers from New York to Paris is largely attributable to the highly anticipated exhibition "Punk from Chaos to Couture", which opens at New York's Metropolitan Museum in May. Its curator, Andrew Bolton, told Women's Wear Daily he had been considering such a subject for some time. "Punk broke all rules when it came to fashion, and everything became possible after punk," he said when the exhibition was announced in September. "Its impact on high fashion became enormous."

Punk's Grande Dame, the ever-rebellious Vivienne Westwood, chose the Palais de Tokyo yesterday to bang the drum for the environmental cause Climate Revolution. Its message was writ large, literally, on capes with ragged edges, while the movement's graphics and logos were woven into jacquards and plastered on T-shirts and bags.

With punkish signatures abounding elsewhere, it was characteristic of Westwood's contrary nature to chose to take another direction, with mediaeval Europe her inspiration.

Beautiful embroideries and weaves were dramatically draped, ruched and buckled. Seams were left raw on patchwork woollen pieces, while cloaks, capes and skirts were shredded to create a ragged finish.

With plastic hair braids, dramatically daubed make-up and platform boots, there was something of the post-apocalyptic warrior woman about Westwood's presentation.

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