Spring 2018 Ready-to-Wear
October 3, 2017
I would like to preface this recap with an overarching statement: The Moncler Gamme Rouge show this afternoon was the most fun I’ve had all week. It’s the last day of Paris. Yesterday, I was ready for it to be finished. Today, I’m sad it’s all over—go figure.
As I walked into designer Giambattista Valli’s Moncler shows space at the Grand Palais, and lights twinkled everywhere. Small disco balls covered the ceiling and huge ones hung low along the runway, all spinning and dazzling the dark room with light. At this point, we’ve seen all the sets. Chanel had recently wrapped, also at the Grand Palais, but in a bigger space replete with waterfalls and such—Karl is such a show-off. (We love that Karl is a show-off.)
But disco balls, even giant ones, were unlikely to illicit much awe from this crowd—Chanel is a hard act to follow, and when the music started, I was like, really? Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You”? Not only has that song been played six-feet-deep for the past six months or more, but Valli used the same song last season. I love that Alessandro Dell’Acqua closes each No.21 show with Pat Benatar’s ’80s anthem “Love is a Battlefield,” but that’s Pat. However, when a girl walked out with her hands in the air, waving them from side to side, I smiled. And when she was followed by an entire company of contemporary dancers, all on pointe, all shapes and sizes, mostly black women, which is still, sadly, rare to see on a fashion week runway, I was so about it. I recognized them from a viral Insta video—The Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center. With the diversity conversation in the spotlight where it belongs, these dancers, serving a ballet/ballroom/hip-hop/fashion mashup made so much sense, and as Sheeran accompanied the popping and locking procession—”I’m in love with the shape of you”—my aversion to the song evaporated. This was music for my soul.
As the last of the dancers spun backstage, the models walked out. The music switched to “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve. In the wake of the Kering and LVMH charter, it seemed like social commentary—the models wearing the actual collection were just that—models—all of them size 2 I expect, and the word bittersweet seemed profound, and a bit sad. I said so to the editor next to me. I spoke too soon though.
“They know what is what, but they don’t know what is what, they just strut. What the fuck?”
A sample from Katy Pery’s “Swish Swish” pounded out (she sampled Fat Boy Slim, just FYI), and the dancers exploded back onto the runway. Missy Elliot’s “Lose Control” got murdered on that runway-cum-dance-floor, so fierce it earned a loud “YASS!” from someone sitting nearby.
I spoke to the dancers backstage after the show. I’ve never seen a group of girls happier. “Ballet isn’t exclusive like it was, anyone can do it,” one said. “Misty Copeland is breaking those barriers, and since that Instagram video, we’ve been getting so much love, and now we’re in Paris! Schools are starting to become more diverse, but it’s slow. For us, if you can do the steps and you’re having fun, you’re in.” I almost cried.
I spoke to Valli too, who said he’d seen the girls on Instagram also. He said it wasn’t so much a statement about diversity as it was about the Moncler Gamme Rouge mix of sporty with chic. All the girls wore ballet flats, and there was tutu tulle everywhere, in many instances paired with jersey sport tops. I pointed out that “Shape of You,” followed by “Bittersweet Symphony,” followed by “Lose Control” and “Swish Swish” was poignant, and he agreed. “But I wasn’t thinking about color or size when I saw them—I still don’t. I just see a group of talented girls with this incredible energy.” If fashion saw things more like Valli, we’d all be in a much better place.