On the surface, it's all about floral prints here at the spring 2008 collections. But take a closer look and the real trend of the moment will jump right out at you: the inevitable marriage of fashion and technology. Despite the international fashion system's dependence on old hierarchies and methodologies (the runway process itself seems very dated), forward-thinking designers are exploring new technologies and exploiting them for everything from laser cutting to newfangled printing techniques. The results are incredible, even if they are not so apparent on first pass.
At Balenciaga, the designer Nicolas Ghesquiere carefully explained to journalists backstage the intricate laser cutting techniques he'd used to update old-fashioned fabrics and shapes. All kinds of flower prints are getting re-mixed on computers at places like Balenciaga, Dries Van Noten and Christian Lacroix. It's hard to see, but Van Noten's beautiful collection of mixed up floral prints was actually a feat of technology. Every spectacular print sometimes two or three combined on one skirt or shirt was made specifically for each garment. Ghesquiere also used latex to give his stiff couture fabrics even more shape. Silicone is also very popular and not just in the ever-youthful faces and lips of front row fashionistas. The new thing to do is inject crocodile handbags with the stuff to give them a supple and puffy consistency.
Last night Hussein Chalayan ventured one step further into the tech-obsessed future, opting out of a traditional runway presentation and showing instead a video of his spring collection. Collaborating with photographer Nick Knight, Chalayan said he wanted to make a different kind of commitment to technologically and fashion design. So the film, entitled Readings, shows the clothing, not just to fashion's elite, but to anyone who wants to watch it on Knight's website
Streaming video is really catching on here in Paris fashion tribes; everywhere you look, editors are clomping through the runway shows and through the Tuileries Gardens, where many of the shows are held, with cameramen in tow, explaining their feelings about the trends. There are even amateurs who just tag along with the fashion flock and rig together their own YouTube interviews. Long gone are the days when accredited critics were the only ones with opinions.
Next Paris in Full Bloom