There was something intensely surreal about being in Paris last week; about leaving Milan on the heels of the news that public schools there would be shutting down because of coronavirus. It was hard to explain to friends in the U.S. — all still comfortably operating under an “it’s not that bad” mindset — the apocalyptic nature of the feeling in the air. And it was extra surreal to go to fashion shows in the midst of it, while teams dropped out right and left, and shows and presentations canceled last minute. There was even an aesthetic metaphor for the week: a woman in the front row at Chanel wearing a medical mask with white Chanel flowers on it.
As in Milan, politics were noticeably absent from the runways in Paris. Climate change and fashion’s contributions to it were hardly addressed, and plus-size models barely had a presence. It was an odd insistence on fashion without context, rendered even more confusing by the way the designs referenced the end of the world so directly, as though designers had anticipated a dystopian week — which might just be a sign that dystopia is now just here to stay.
Our favourite looks mirrored the ambient strangeness: They were dreamy, exaggerated, apocalyptic; they reimagined gender to be at once aggressively feminine and very masculine, with sharp shoulders and feathers, bows and neckties. Colours stepped outside the usual earthy fall palette to embrace pale kiwi green, purple, and fuchsia — though the colour black was heavily embraced by nearly every designer, too. Overcoats dusted the floor; capes billowed dramatically behind models. Ahead, our favourite trends that emerged from Paris Fashion Week.