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4.13.2017

Vetements

The arty-farty Gvasalia brothers, Demna, the designer, and Guram, the businessman behind the Vetements phenomenon, pulled off a coup for the fashion credibility of Paris with a show in the Galeries Lafayette tonight. On many levels, it was an event which satirically contravened half a dozen arcane regulations of what is supposed to be the correct way for a label to operate. It was a collection made entirely with other brands, including Brioni, Schott, Levi's, Comme des Garçons Shirt, Reebok, Canada Goose, Dr Martens, Alpha Industries, Eastpak, Lucchesse, Manolo Blahnik... It was both womens and menswear, and it was magnanimously welcomed by the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture as the big ta-da opener of couture week. Yet it was so far from being traditional couture that it was shown, cheekily, in a department store -during regular hours, at that. Twisting the conventions in terms of pre-existing generic garments -hoodies, trench coats, bomber jackets, jeans- is always Demna Gvasalia's thing, and this was just one giant logical step further along that path. "We thought we'd go straight to the brands who make all these things best, and ask to do something in our way with each one", he said. "The people who work at Vetements don't really wear designer fashion -a lot of these are the labels they wear all the time". The brands, from Mackintosh in Scotland to Lucchesse cowboy boot manufacturers in Texas, were approached by his CEO brother who set the legal and logistical negotiations to do with manufacturing, joint labelling, and selling. The clothes will mostly be made by the individual brands' own specialist factories. "I'm explaining it to retailers that this is not one collection, but 18, which they will receive in different drops throughout the season". The "best in category" collaborations went to a couple of high-level places as well. One was the classic Italian tailoring company Brioni, who agreed to Vetements' sacrilegious processes of gigantic oversizing, unpressed seams, and fusing linings to cloth with glue. Another was Manolo Blahnik, who was game for going all the way with exaggerating his duchess satin stiletto boots for them. "We've done thigh-high, so we asked : could you go waist-high this time for us ?" Demna noted. He was also happy to add a personal touch to the Vetements collab by autographing his classic satin pumps in bleach. More difficult, said Guram, was winning permission from Levi's to have an embossed Vetements stamp on its label : "this has never been allowed before in its history !" Still : it was drive and the energy with which this grotesque collection of collections came together that actually mattered, and especially at the end, when it moved into pseudo-innovative high fashion gear with Vetements first real dealings with eveningwear. There was a fairly subversive "couture" collab with Juicy Couture, using its signature stretch velvet in skin-tight catsuits and incendiarily sexy long skirts, which are slit all the way up to the bottom and are kept on with an internal thong. Finally, there was a series of asymmetric dresses in slinky Seventies jersey or chiffon, and then Lotta Volkova Adam, ending the show in a new version of the Vetements floral dress, this time with blue flowers on a white background. That, laughed Demna Gvasalia, was "a collaboration with ourselves !" Question is, who will buy this shit ?

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