Courregès: Ready-To-Wear SS20
Mugler, Rabanne, Lanvin, Patou… With heritage houses steadily taking over the Paris Fashion Week schedule, there are clear differences in ways these new(ish) creative directors are steering their ships. Some are clearing their visions of those that came before them, others are just slightly tweaking archival pieces before sending them onto the catwalk. And then there’s a few designers, like Yolanda Zobel, translating the codes and ethos of the brand’s founders into the contemporary state of mind. The radicalism of André Courrèges’ work was most evident in the use of materials that changed the ways fashion advanced after his trailblazing moves. Vinyl and plastic were his socialist alternatives to the fine silks and heavy wools. But that was the 1960s. Now it’s 2019, and the world is facing environmental issues all of us have stakes in.
Yes, our planet is on the line, and Zobel is doing her best to find a solution. For her SS20 collection at Courrèges, the German-born designer decided to look deep into today’s meaning of futuristic textiles. What, or who, she found was Instituto-e, a pioneering Brazilian company whose objective is transform their country into a model of sustainable human development. One of their focuses is developing both socially and environmentally-friendly materials, an expertise which Zobel decided to utilise in her latest outing. The story started by using the skin of the Pirarucu fish. Originally found in the Amazonian fresh waters, the fish are a staple in the local diet with their skins usually discarded. Now, the skins were transformed into Courrèges’ signature futuristic jacket silhouettes as well as embellishments covering seasonal updates on wardrobe classics. Through the research process, the house also found an innovative way of producing their classic textured vinyl out of algae which uses 10 times less plastic. “Our new vinyl isn’t perfect, but it’s better,” they declare. From today, Courrèges are hosting a pop-up a space honouring their Fin du Plastique project counting down to the end of their archival vinyl fabrics. Next to the brand’s flagship in Paris on Rue Francois, the space will house a caosule collection include T-shirts and sweatshirts in organice cotton carrying the Courrèges x Instituto-e logo, as well as small leather goods in piracucu fish skin and in remaining meters of that same archival plastic.
While radicalism still remains at the core of the brand, Yolanda Zobel is clearly finding ways to create beauty out of the sense of urgency and chaos that seems to be leading the way. Her SS20 show was a demonstration of how poetic yet powerful that relationship can be. Set at the Canal Saint Martin, with a soundtrack created in legendary American DJ Jeff Mills, the show was one of the most moving calls to action we’ve seen yet. Andre Courrèges would be proud.
Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans.