It isn’t easy being green

By Roxanne Robinson

As Paris shows head into full gear, three designers chose natural settings to display their Spring 2020 collections.

While the rain was off and on Tuesday in Paris, the discussion that is fully underway is how luxury will do their part in the environmental rescue effort. Aptly timed during the Global Climate Strike and following on the heels of LVMH’s Visionary Award at the Green Carpet Fashion Award and Kering’s announcement to become carbon neutral, it’s clear that giving thought to the environment weighs heavily on designers and the fashion community at large.


Maria Grazia Chiuri has been contemplating the subject deeply. How to address these ever-growing environmental concerns is all over the media and on the minds of most woke folks. Tackling sustainability, the designer started with a set made from 164 trees that will grace public spaces in Paris in the weeks to come (complete with their own cardboard hashtag hanger spelling out #plantingforthefuture and #dior2020) and will donate the wooden seating to a non-profit reseller aimed at cultural endeavors.

But when it comes to the merch, it’s a less is less conundrum. Selling things at Dior employs several “villages” with the different métiers full of artisans such as the ones that did the beautiful raffia embroidery on the breezy, full skirts. Initiatives like selling classic styles such as a bar jacket that can be passed down from generation to generation may sound green, but could mean less green to be made by chez Dior. What if sustainability also means sustaining your employees’ livelihoods? (Just ask XL airways CEO Laurent Magnin about not being able to sustain over 600 peoples’ jobs if their recent bankruptcy deal proceeds.)

The designer, like many LVMH and Kering creatives, has publicly stated she is considering the “greener” alternatives in clothing production but is rightly somewhat befuddled by trying to turn a luxury giant production ship around to eco-friendly systems and procedures, and most likely concerned if the result will still have the Dior stamp-of-luxury approval.

For now, she focused efforts on celebrating nature in the designs – meticulous embroideries of flowers on fine tulle running between the layers of a wispy summer dress or appliquéd on an exquisite waffle weave (couture burlap?), or lifelike flora running up a cozy sweater.

She played to the younger street-savvy Dior-ette as she has since day one, with plenty of short shorts and tie-dyed denim and dungaree looks. Pinafores and sassy, short, full skirts played further to their innocent side.

As the 80-plus looks took a last lap around the forest set, a version of the Beatles classic about outer space, Across the Universe played loud and clear with its most prominent lyrics: “Nothing’s gonna change my world.” It may have been a double entendre. Was Chiuri feeling hopeless about affecting change? Or simply saying that no matter what, she will just keep keeping on?

Marine Serre

Marine Serre’s no stranger to imagining the post-apocalyptic future where climate neglect has led to serious issues facing daily life: i.e. water supply and extreme temperatures.

In her SS 20 Marée Noire aka Black Sea show set in the nature park at Hippodrome d’Auteuil, the up-and-coming French designer imagined several tribes emerging from the destruction and kicking into survival mode.

In this climate revolution, there are those who fight the good fight and those whose slacktivism propels their survival. The latter were outfitted in commando-style black uniforms lit by red lights signaling their mission; the former in mainly opposing white held their bougie-past fashion lives together with Victorian-era hodge-podges of lace and crochet (apparently pulling a Scarlett O’Hara and making clothes from drapes?) paired with signature print denim.

Other tribes referenced the executive world with tailored pieces in, oddly enough, terry cloth, and a desert tribe – surely a wise move for Serre to court the modest dressing market – with mixed tailoring, layered body wraps, and scuba-inspired djellaba. The final tribe suggested a new life form via an Amphibious Queen that plucked heavily from African motifs.

Serre knows that survival today is more than just the weathering the climate mess. How does a young designer survive today? Serre seems to know the secret by offering a unique yet attainable look. Signature prints, layering, uniform dressing and even a series of useful but fun accessories keep the designer on track.

Saint Laurent

While Tuesday show venue themes may have had an outdoors-y vibe, Anthony Vaccarello’s outdoor Saint Laurent show was not channeling an eco-system fix. Set in the bowels of the Place du Trocadero overlooking the Tour Eiffel, guests sitting in a covered stadium and fans across the set on the grassy knoll democratized his Spring 2020 show.

Instead, Vaccarello seemed to be summoning aliens from outer space with eerie music and over 300 individual rotating strobe lights recessed into the floor of the massive set, a Close Encounter of the Fashion Kind if you will. As the show segued to the Le Smoking finale, the lights felt like beings watching the crowd.

But first came a freshened up redux of Saint Laurent’s faves, especially the Russian peasant collection with tones of the Bourgeoisie trend so prevalent for Fall. Afterall, Saint Laurent tended to own that space in his heyday. Maybe Vaccarello was teleporting us to another dimension where Saint Laurent’s Seventies still exists?

Short shorts – an emerging Paris trend – played against trousers and denim cut to the knees paired with knee-hi boots and jackets and vests spoke to the Coachella set while glittering peasant dress looks – from belted to new-again tiered and oversized – that followed with burnished gold embroideries cement the perennial 70s boho-trend (complete with gypsy-head scarfs) for yet another generation. Watch out, H&M, Zara, here they come!

A line-up of heavily sequined new Le Smoking set closed the show with Naomi Campbell, guests lingered on the set for photo ops as they exited precariously on the slick black surface. Alexandre de Betak was heard on a loudspeaker cautioning guests, “Please do not fall into the light.”

As much as fashion would prefer to stay in the dark on matters such as climate change, the time has come to let the sun, shine in.

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