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Mar 6, 2023
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Paloma Wool, Pressiat and Vaquera champion diversity and rebellion

Translated by
Mar 6, 2023

Is diversity going out of fashion? At least that's what one might have thought during the last Milan Fashion Week. But in Paris, young brands are the spokespeople for underrepresented beauties. Unfazed and devoid of prejudice, Spanish brand Paloma Wool, French label Pressiat and American brand Vaquera presented modern and disruptive designs that championed inclusivity and diversity.

Fall/Winter 2023 collection - Paloma Wool

Motherhood and reinvention according to Paloma Wool

At the Spanish brand's previous fashion show in Paris, its creative director and founder, Paloma Lanna, was applauded by her growing community of fans from all over the world while showing off her pregnant belly. A few months later, the designer appeared with her baby in her arms at the closing of her show at the Bastille Design Center on Boulevard Richard-Lenoir. A decision that is by no means insignificant for the designer, who is determined to give visibility to motherhood.

"For me, it has always been important to feel good in what I wear, and recently it has been a big challenge. I'm rethinking my style and, after becoming a mother, my body and my priorities have changed and I have to use my imagination differently," said Lanna to FashionNetwork.com regarding the evolution of her well-known brand that has become known for its asymmetrical knitted designs, which have already been worn by renowned singers such as Rosalía, Dua Lipa and Amaia.

"Just because I'm a mother doesn't mean I'm only a mother and cancel out everything else. I am well aware that I am privileged and lucky to be a mother that can work on her passion at the same time. But it is hard and requires a lot of effort. I wanted to highlight all these roles that we women play in our family and work life," she explained about her brand's new phase, in which garments are more understated or sporty, transparent fabrics are layered, dresses are draped and fitted, and commercial pieces take the form of hooded tops or biker shorts.

Lanna's journey towards personal and professional maturity has been particularly noticeable in her work, which is now "more elevated, experimental and less naïve".

Likewise, the firm's usual graphic prints have been toned down, leaving room for colourful and statement knitwear pieces.

"In each collection, I try to find a balance between masculine and feminine, between formal and effortless. My changed lifestyle translated into a more mature reinvention of these codes. I feel more like a woman now," said Lanna.

In a performance directed by her best friend, Spanish artist Carlota Guerrero, the brand set out to break down barriers and reveal what happens behind the scenes of a fashion show, Paloma Wool promoted sexy and seductive clothing that are not just designed for young girls and size 34 women, but that cater to women of all ages and sizes.

Singer Halsey stars in the Pressiat show - Pressiat / Sam Dameshek

Pressiat's secret cabaret

Just a few minutes away from the Pigalle metro station, amidst neon lights, tourists and sex shops, the iconic Parisian nightclub Le Carmen became the perfect venue to present the latest creations of the young French designer Vincent Garnier Pressiat, who founded the "genderless" brand Pressiat in March 2021. Red lights illuminated the vast, high-ceilinged rooms, decorated with towering statues and large mirrors. The magnificent 18th century 'hôtel particulier', which was built in the 18th century and was once home to the French composer George Bizet, served as the backdrop for the 'Absolument' collection.

Inspired by the work of the Spanish surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel, Pressiat reinterpreted a Parisian tale in which the city's bourgeoisie immersed themselves in the red light district of Pigalle, where they discovered their alter egos, free from traditional conventions and prejudices. For the couturier who has worked for the likes of John Galliano, Balmain and Saint Laurent, the show "reflects today's society, the need to rebel in order to free oneself from the judgement that seems to have been exacerbated by social media."

The performance began with a series of black-clad silhouettes, looking as if they had just stepped out of a nightclub, who slowly glided among the audience with seductive gestures. Visible breasts bursting out of corsets that, at the back, revealed naked bodies behind the lacing, a high-necked dress that went up to the cheeks and masked the face of a mysterious model, voluptuous tulle headpieces and latex gloves offered a taste of what the collection would be like once the lights were switched on. 

The garments ranged from protective armour to sensual cinched corsets. High society rubbed shoulders with the sexually liberated women of Pigalle, nocturnal heroines who transcended notions of gender and age. Pencil skirts, punk cardigans, long velvet or mini leather dresses, fishnet stockings, lingerie looks, satin tuxedos, white faux fur coats, tweed ensembles and animal prints dominated the collection. The looks were all paired with towering platforms, gothic jewellery or even whips. American singer Halsey, who walked the catwalk hand in hand with the designer, stood out among the diverse lineup of models.

Vaquera - Fall-Winter2023 - 2024 - Womenswear - France - Paris - © ImaxTree

Vaquera's freedom at full speed

There is no doubt that the American duo of Patric DiCaprio and Bryn Taubensee have more than mastered the commercial potential of Vaquera, the New York-based brand that already has a loyal fan base and strikes a precarious balance between a resolutely trendy style and more sultry underground influences. However, this past season was an opportunity for the label to assert its style and go beyond logo T-shirts or commercial garments that were designed to generate the most sales. 

"We wanted to create a different reality, and this season we allowed ourselves to do things that excite and inspire us," explained Taubensee after the show, which was held at the venue located in 3537 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, where the brand usually holds its Parisian fashion shows. 

Seeking to dress real or imaginary New Yorkers, Vaquera once again made its models walk at full speed. The fall/winter collection presented wide satin pants, tiny tops resembling pirate patches, synthetic fur hats covering the models' faces like balaclavas, ripped denim looks, biker jackets with pointed studs, graphic T-shirts, asymmetrical prom dresses and sexy lingerie that were sometimes worn on top of outfits.

Of particular note was a total pink fishnet look consisting of a fringed jumpsuit as well as a series of satin and sheer wedding dresses complete with fur details, that seemed to be mocking or imitating the lingerie pieces seen at a Victoria's Secret fashion show. 

The brand's Spanish-sounding name is borrowed from the nickname Patric DiCaprio was given when he worked as a dishwasher in restaurants. Founded a decade ago, the label took off in 2016 following a collaboration with Dover Street Market, and is known for its unique avant-garde designs that were exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York during the 'Camp: Notes on Fashion In America: A Lexicon of Fashion' exhibition in 2021.

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