Jun 23, 2023
Despite the ongoing buzz surrounding Pharrell’s debut at Louis Vuitton and his star-studded and highly publicized show, the second day of Paris Fashion Week on Wednesday, June 21, exuded elegance through the visions of Wales Bonner and Egonlab’s tailoring. These two fashion labels presented refined and contemporary collections, where their respective musical choices played a leading role coinciding with the Music Day festivities in the French capital, which filled the streets with summer solstice celebrations.
After almost an hour of anticipation, during which attendees enjoyed a pre-show performance by Nigerian instrumentalist Hama and the Sahel Sounds collective, Dutch model Imaan Hammam opened the runway show wearing a white midi dress paired with a matching trench coat and a beaded metallic mesh top. British designer Grace Wales Bonner thus inaugurated her distinctive “Marathon,” which served as the title for her Spring/Summer 2024 collection and foreshadowed a significant fashion moment at the Monnaie de Paris on the Rive Gauche.
In front of a select group of attendees, including British Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton and iconic supermodels Naomi Campbell and Liya Kebede, the label founded in 2014 showcased a gender-fluid collection that remained faithful to its elegant balance between the sartorial world, sportswear references, and preppy influences. The circular runway paid tribute to legendary athletes such as Ethiopians Gebreselassie and Dibaba, and Kenyan Kipchoge, reminiscent of the “reflections of long-distance runners.” Of course, Wales Bonner’s ongoing collaboration with German brand Adidas was also present, featuring pairs of “Originals” and a replica of the “Neftenga” model with which Haile Gebreselassie broke the world record at the Berlin Marathon in 2008.
As for the garments, the designer, who was rumored as a potential replacement for Virgil Abloh as Louis Vuitton’s creative director for menswear, created elegant silhouettes that encompassed classic sportswear looks in vibrant tones, metallic textures, lightweight outerwear fabrics, bold floral and leopard prints, and even equestrian-style boots paired with shirt dresses or tailored shorts.
Craftsmanship was showcased through Tibeb fabrics made by artisans from Addis Ababa, hand-embroidered raffia details on jackets and skirts, beaded embellishments on women’s tailoring, and handmade glass beads from Ghana. The Olympic spirit was reflected in the Savile Row tailoring, produced in collaboration with Anderson & Shepard, featuring gold buttons and ceremonial necklaces with jade stones inspired by the celebrations of Abebe Bikila, the first African athlete to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games.
The show’s soundtrack, produced by New York-based composer James William Blades and Grace Wales Bonner herself, created an immersive atmosphere with the melody of the traditional masinqo instrument and original recordings by Ethiopian artist HaddinQo.
Just a few hours earlier, the duo Egonlab welcomed their guests to the iconic Parisian concert venue Elysée Montmartre, near the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Attendees ascended the grand staircase flanked by 30 Devialet speakers, the result of a collaboration between the fashion brand and the musical technology company, immersing them in a dark atmosphere filled with suggestive sounds.
Under the title “Toute Première Fois” (very first time), emerging designers Florentin Glémarec and Kévin Nompeix unveiled their eighth collection, remaining true to their omnipresent tailoring while inspired by “the need to redefine our relationship with our bodies” and evoking the liberation found in decision-making and “the power of life, growth, and pleasure.”
Throughout their exploration, the creative duo inevitably confronted traditional gender codes. From a double-breasted black suit jacket with a trapezoidal neckline that opened the show, hinting at a recurring cut, to overlapping pareo-shaped foulards and harness-style tops, and a long semi-transparent black dress or various layered skirts—both long and denim or pleated over minuscule shorts.
Glamorous elements were present in silk degradé shirts, oversized fur coats and bags, structured long leather trench coats, and short plunging jumpsuits. The color palette flirted with somber blacks that gradually gave way to golden, brown, and copper tones. Additionally, Egonlab highlighted denim with jeans in various washes and ultra-low rise, subtly revealing the models’ buttocks. A standout piece was an asymmetrical and three-dimensional silver top that straddled the line between a bow and a corset, serving as the show’s final look.
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