Couture is famously the most luxurious, expensive, and decadent showcase in the fashion world — let's just say that those who shop for velour tracksuits in malls aren't the same customers who'd also shop for custom couture items (at an upon-request price that'd give most people a nosebleed). But last night, Vetements mixed the two worlds — that is, Paris ateliers and the Paramus shopping mall — in a show bursting with creative energy and innovation, the brand's ever-present irony, and a raging thrash-metal soundtrack. Held on the shop floor at the Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette (invitations were store directory pamphlets), Vetements formally collaborated with 18 brands, deconstructing classics from an array of household labels that would warm Carrie Bradshaw's heart, including Juicy Couture and Manolo Blahnik. The brand confronted one of its biggest criticisms — that it lacks creativity and can only riff on existing pieces — and elevated what collaboration can look like. The collective brought a unique vision to the haute couture art form: "For us, the couture approach is to use the know-how of these manufacturers," Demna Gvasalia explained to WWD. "For example, Schott does the best biker jacket. We want to keep working with them as it’s an interesting way to grow." The anti-couture couture show presented Vetements' spring '17 collection that would normally be shown during Paris Fashion Week in October, but Gvasalia chose to subvert the established fashion calendar — just as he's subverted and twisted the ordinary with his brand's designs, reworking everything from a DHL T-shirt and Justin Bieber tour merchandise to a Juicy Couture tracksuit that, in this collection, was transformed into evening wear. Also, by pushing the show up to July, Vetements had three months instead of six to design and create the collection.
The 55-look collection centered on deconstruction and oversized silhouettes. There were twisted shirts; tailored blazers; huge Canada Goose puffer jackets; hip-skimming boots for boys and girls; billowing overalls; and sheer, gathered gowns. And to complete the looks, together with Manolo Blahnik, Demna developed a kitten-heel slingback, court shoes that tied at the ankle, booties, thigh highs, and show-stopping waist-high waders. "I am excited about collaborating with Vetements," the shoe designer explained in a press release. "I think it is of the moment to mix different brands and wear them the way you want. I like the freedom of that, hence why I was intrigued and said yes when they approached me."
Also of note was how Gvasalia responded to another criticism leveled against him and his team: that of a lack of diversity in his casting decisions. Publications (including our own) have noted that he's only used one model of color in his past shows for Vetements and Balenciaga. Without explicitly commenting on it, he included a handful of non-Caucasian models this time. Whether or not this signals a change for Vetements, or that Gvasalia just finally acknowledged the young, urban, and racially diverse fanbase he's attracted despite past casting, remains to be seen. In the meantime, we can say one thing for certain: It's time to dust off your old Juicy.