NTERNATIONAL marathon of fashion weeks, a good number of collections follow a familiar formula: Such-and-such an artist or musician or film or personality or geography or historical period inspires X designer. The show notes typically wax poetic about how these influences are expressed in X’s collection, and journalists and bloggers dutifully regurgitate this.
And then there’s Demna Gvasalia, the red-hot designer of Vetements, who starts out each collection by simply listing the garments it is to contain, like some banal shopping list: pants, cocktail dress, uniform top, sweatshirt, bomber jacket. Occasionally, an image sourced from Google represents the style. Sketching comes last, but ...view middle of the document...
He subsequently joined Louis Vuitton.
“We really wanted somebody that has a vision, and some- one capable of reshuffling the cards,” Balenciaga chief executive officer Isabelle Guichot tells WWD about the daring appointment. “I was really amazed by his ability to develop an approach to the brand that was really new and that was really his own….What should be the attitude, what should be the silhouette, what should be the volumes.”
Gvasalia has yet to detail his intentions for the French Thouse, other than saying he would “further evolve the DNA of the house and, together with the team, write a new chapter in its history.”
To be sure, Gvasalia is an atypical and low- key fashion star who totes around his wallet and other affairs in a paper shopping bag, and who feels right at home in the nondescript cafés and bars of the gritty 10th arrondissement. All this heightens the underground, alternative penumbra that has accrued to Vetements, his brand named after the French word for clothes.
“Fashion used to create a dream: People used to dream about an amazing dress that they will probably never wear in their life, but that created an idea and an illusion,” says Gvasalia, dressed head-to-toe in coal-black denim, with a satin bomber jacket tossed over, for an interview on a terrace table at Allen’s Market Café. “Now it is much more about product, and much more about somebody wanting to have it or wear it.”
Grounded in the real world, Gvasalia says he gets inspired by observing people, whether on the street or in the queue at the supermarket, and prides himself on creating wearable clothes for the young and plugged-in — all injected with attitude.
“For me, fashion is something practical,” he reasons. “It’s made to be worn rather than change things, otherwise you will be an artist. I think and consider myself more like a dress-making brand.”
But it is a dress-making brand that comes to life in the basement darkrooms of a notorious gay club in Paris, or in a borderline grubby Chinese restaurant in the city’s Belleville district. Those venues for Vetements’ last two shows helped amplify the buzz as a cast of edgy characters barreled through narrow rows of chairs, imparting a sense of energy and urgency, two powerful emotions where fashion is concerned.
Trend forecaster Li Edelkoort sees Gvasalia as an emblematic figure as fashion moves away from narration to- ward a focus on the essence of clothes.
The idea harks back to Martin Margiela, a Belgian fashion maverick who became famous for repurposing vintage clothes, supersizing others, moving seams into clear view and wearing a white lab coat.
“There’s a focus on what is a garment; what is a cut; what is a shape,” Edelkoort tells WWD. “This is about more reconstruction than deconstruction. It’s a playful research on volume, details and shapes.”
Edelkoort says “normcore” foreshadowed the current movement,...