Here is something tricky to accomplish in a shoe: reminding anyone who sees it that overconsumption and waste are warming the planet and destroying the Earth’s natural resources — melting the ice caps, polluting the oceans and so forth. While also making the wearer look really cool.
If any brand can pull that off, it’s Botter, a young Parisian label that uses the taglines “aquatic world” and “Caribbean couture” to describe a sunny design sensibility mashed together from Dutch coolness and island realness. According to the brand, one of its designers, Rushemy Botter, was born on Curaçao and later lived in a fishing village outside Amsterdam; the other, Lisi Herrebrugh, has shuttled between the Netherlands and the Dominican Republic, where she has family.
Their names may also sound familiar as finalists for the 2018 LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers and as artistic directors at Nina Ricci for three years, until this past January. Earlier this year, they also won the Andam Fashion Award; Harry Styles wore one of their argyle polo shirts knitted from recycled plastic hair-beads on a cover of Rolling Stone.
So they’ve got momentum. It’s no surprise that this season, for a show devoted to the concept of bringing water to the runway — including on some models who wore large condoms filled with liquid around their wrists, forming a kind of extraordinary bouncy blob glove — they debuted a shoe with strong internet-meltdown potential as part of a continuing collaboration with Adidas.
The soccer sneakers (in the Predator Edge. 1 style) — developed with Dutch footwear designers Studio Hagel — have a puddle of resin molded around the soles. They came in black or neon orange (technically “solar red,” to Adidas), though the traffic-cone-color version was far more eye-catching.
The models who wore them looked, from afar, like they were wearing flippers. Up close, they more closely resembled melting ice cubes. Botter wanted the shoes to “feel like they’re floating in tranquil water moving gracefully,” according to its show notes.
But paired with other pieces, like a frozen block of discarded plastic bags made into a handbag, that tranquility shifted more into existential dread.
Still, accessories with a conscience that look more interesting than Toms slip-ons: That’s a good thing.
Inside Louis Vuitton’s ‘Monster’ Flower
It was a monster, enormous and ominous. It was a flower, striking and alluring. It was both, and that was the point.
“We talked about the idea of a weird monster show,” traveling from town to town as part of a circus, artist Philippe Parreno said while discussing the origins of the giant structure at the heart of the set forLouis Vuitton’s spring 2023 show. “You want to be deceived, in a way. You are attracted by it and you are seduced by it. And yet you know that it’s fake.”
The flower-shaped installation was made up of dozens of blood-red panels, which rose from a courtyard of the Louvre: 28 meters high (more than 90 feet) at its highest point and made from about 3,900 square meters of ripstop nylon.
Parreno created the set, assisted by Hollywood production designer James Chinlund, in collaboration with Nicolas Ghesquière, creative director of womenswear at Vuitton — whose main directive to the artist was “beautiful but dangerous.”
What they made was indeed reminiscent of a carnival or theme park: The circular platform surrounding the monster — where the audience was seated — looked like a carousel, super-illuminated by bright light bulbs and rotating chandeliers. The thick red curtains that initially concealed the monster flower were like those at magic shows. And when the curtains were pulled back, a few swinging fun house-style mirrors faced the audience on pedestals, in front of the monster. (The idea was that the flower, sentient and scary, controlled the mirrors.)
But the team also thought about classic horror cinema, like “King Kong” movies.
“When they captured King Kong and took him on tour, they put him onstage and he was chained up,” Chinlund said. “We thought about taking this flower and scaling it up to the point that it was sort of terrifying — with all these towers around it, and the cables kind of restraining it.”
Ghesquière said he had never worked like this before: planning a set while designing a collection at the same time. The fun-house-mirror effect was the clearest link between the two, with certain elements of Ghesquière’s designs (like zippers, buckles, clutch bags) that were revealed at the show on Tuesday, blown up to supersize proportions, like “a game of scale,” he said.
Planning began in June, with on-site construction starting in late August — a staggering timeline considering that all of this was for a 14-minute show held in early October. After the show, deconstruction was to begin almost immediately — kind of like a traveling circus, Chinlund said, “gone in the night.” (Louis Vuitton later noted that about 93% of materials used in its events, including fashion shows, were either reused or recycled.)
Yet there was something about the impermanence of a sideshow that Ghesquière appreciated.
“I’ve always liked the nomadic life,” he said. Fashion week is, after all, like a “caravan,” with the same people traveling to the same four cities for the same shows every year, twice a year. For the last few seasons, Louis Vuitton has been the final major show of the circuit.
“Sometimes people don’t realize the fashion show is such a live event. You have one chance and you have to get it right,” Ghesquière said. “But this is the definition of fashion. It’s this moment and not another moment.”
Can a Corsage Transcend Prom?
The corsage was the icing on the cake — if the cake were a boulder-size silk taffeta opera coat, decorated with varsity letters on the back and explosive ruffles in the front, all done up in pretty pastels. This look was repeated about 20 times in the first part of Thom Browne’s show on Monday afternoon in Paris.
What could possibly make a look with that much going on — it included a netted face mask, polka-dot socks, saddle shoes and a little leather bag — complete?
For Browne, the answer was obvious: a plastic wrist corsage. They have been a staple of homecoming and prom dances from the 1950s to … well, now, even if they aren’t as popular today as in the past.
Perhaps Thom Browne can help change that. In the last few years, opera gloves have returned to the runways in a major way, as an elegant accessory sometimes worn ironically and sometimes not. One could imagine the same thing happening with corsages: a burst of candy-colored flowers, either topping an already sweet outfit or making a darker, harder ensemble a little more sweet.
Toward the end of the show, two models synchronized their walks to “You’re the One That I Want,” Sandy and Danny’s final number from “Grease.” A joyful reminder (from peak corsage era) that opposites attract.
A Shiny and Shapeless Bucket Hat, for the Bucket Hat Skeptic
Bucket hats returned to street style and the runways a few years ago — part of the Y2K resurgence that has also resurrected low-rise jeans, butterfly clips and bedazzled everything. Since then, the runways have seen countless iterations: Tod’s (padded with luxurious leather) in Milan and Marc Jacobs (thick and fuzzy and with blown-up proportions) in New York come to mind.
But there was something irresistible in the soft, gauzy, embellished version that Bruno Sialelli, the designer of Lanvin, sent down the runway in Paris. Maybe because these were looser than the typical bucket hat. They weren’t fitted with a flat top and flared brim. Instead, the hats gently flitted on the head, in white mesh, like a feather-light veil.
The veils were then embroidered with little clusters of crystals: shiny and prickly and elegant.
In its show notes, Lanvin said “a sense of hand is palpable throughout” the collection, and that was true here. Only a hand could have found the right balance between mesh white space and blingy blobs. Lanvin also said it was inspired by the 1920s and 1930s for this collection, which was reflected in the floppy (as in flappers), close-to-the-head shape of the shapeless hat.
“Simple pleasures, pure joys,” the show notes read. Indeed.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.