The idea of melding a grunge attitude from the early 1990s with the bold shoulders and look-at-me colours of the 1980s is refreshing. So much has been done to bring the 1970s back into fashion — yet the spirit of the moment seems bolder than Woodstock whimsy can contain.
There was nothing to suggest that endless hippie trail at
Vetements. Rather, the show was propelled by the idea of grunge on speed: big shapes, bold colours and those square shoulders.
Of course it also seemed a bit Margiela — since brothers Demna and Guram Gvasalia, the Vetements team leaders, worked with Martin Margiela before the brand's current era with John Galliano at the helm.
The show, held in a kitsch Chinese restaurant in the hinterlands of Paris, opened with a man — deliberately not a model — wearing a yellow T-shirt with the DHL delivery company logo. What Vetements itself then delivered was a grass-green suit with skirt as tiny as jacket shoulders were huge, and other tailoring with diamond-patterned knits that was off-kilter and striking.
I was expecting something more underground, perhaps expressing the festering rage across Europe about the haves and have-nots. Greece and Spain have moved politically to the left and in the UK a veteran socialist has emerged as a political leader. Yet I saw optimism rather than anger in a bold orange nylon jacket or a men's striped shirt elongated to a dress.
Floral patterns, as if made from aprons found in great-grandma's kitchen, were charming. So were off-kilter acid shades coming out among a belted leather coat over jeans, and other conventional sportswear with a change to size or proportion.
The internet propels designers — even supposedly underground ones — into the public arena. I couldn't help thinking back to Martin Margiela's earlier shows, held in barren places also on the outskirts of Paris with an audience of immigrant kids, unemployed people and a sprinkling of journalists. Now every show is catapulted immediately onto Instagram (not least by myself). And Vetements was picked up by LVMH as a finalist for their designer prize.
I hope that this label has time to develop their fashion look — a bold, crazy, romantic version of normcore — without falling too soon into the hard, sharp embrace of the fashion establishment