Paris turned fashion upside down – Literally.

Fashion Week is an iconic time in Paris. 

As usual, the designers created as many talking points as they did garments, and social media has been rife with excited discussion, blazing criticism, and a fresh wave of memes. From Doja Cat’s 30,000 crimson Swarovski crystals to Kylie Jenner’s Schiaparelli lion at her breast, we’ve seen it all. 

Kardashian Kylie Jenner (left) wearing a black dress and lion head; and music artist Doja Cat (right) in red Swarovski crystals. 

The most major image of the week- and certainly the most talked about collection- is Viktor & Rolf’s “more and more unhinged”, jaw-dropping haute couture show. If you recognise it, that’s because the collection made headlines around the world throughout the week. 

A pale blue dress decorated with a bow is turned upside down

But what was the point of this?

To understand the design, you might first need to understand the designer and what Paris Fashion Week is about.

Couture fashion can be defined as simply designing, making, and selling custom-made fashionable clothing. But it can also mean one-of-a-kind: a luxury.

Avant-garde, however, is a movement promoting new and experimental ideas, oft times controversial. I.e., fashion that’s meant to provoke a thought and spark ideas to the furthest degree. The side of fashion that meshes art and engineering (with considerable amounts of construction, in this case). 

Viktor & Rolf is a Dutch, avant-garde, luxury fashion house. Their previous SS19 collection, ‘Fashion Statements’, was designed to present an “ironic, theatrical, and sophisticated take” on contemporary ideas. It was even the inspiration for the fashion stunt in the final episode of Emily in Paris. 

A dress from the Viktor and Rolf Spring/Summer 2019 collection (left) and the dress for Emily in Paris with fictional fashion designer, Pierre Cadeult (right)

This year, the fashion house upheld their reputation once again by bringing something new, something vibrant – something mad. 

‘Late-Stage Capitalism Waltz’ certainly brought a new perspective. The expression ‘There are many ways to wear a dress’ comes to mind, which supports the touch of humour the fashion house likes to bring to the haute couture fashion week. 

To delve deeper, it could be to highlight how women are distancing themselves from the social ideal of femininity imposed upon them. Notably, Doja Cat arrived as a guest of the show wearing a men’s suit and a moustache, fitting with the theme of upending social norms of dress. 

The “walking surrealism” was made with dramatic ball gowns, each crafted with unfathomable layers of tulle and feats of construction. Pastel colours, ribbons and bows, sparkles and floral print all served to summarise the restrictions and expectations of women’s dress. 

With dramatic eyeliner, punk-style hair and tattoos on display, the models paraded down the runway in a striking contrast to the feminine dresses arranged around their bodies. Some models appeared to take their dress for a walk at their side. 

Two models with gowns twisted across them in a surreal display of fashion. 

While the idea behind their show wasn’t entirely understood, many took to social media to comment on Viktor & Rolf’s work. 

So, one way or another, the fashion has certainly done its job. 

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