Fashion moved on, but Demna Gvasalia stuck to his formula. Thursday’s celebration of juvenile rebellion felt oddly relevant now that the pendulum has swung back to formality
I had no opportunity to speak to Demna Gvasalia before or after the show, nor did I try to get his thoughts. Truth be told, I wanted to savour the Vetements happening with no guide, filter or footnotes, judging the clothes and accompanying narrative with virgin eyes. The brand calls for such straightforwardness. The name, after all, is Vetements: clothing.
The show took place among the stuffed animals of the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution on the Left Bank and was announced with a hand-drawn invitation featuring lovely-looking animals and “HAVE A LOVELY DAY” spelt out. Such sweetness, childishness even, is so completely at odds with the label’s brand of abrasive cool that it felt engaging. Once the show started, however, everything was back to what we know: the hooded sweatshirts, the spikes and the aggression; the anarchic slogans, the crazy mismatches and Interpol jackets; the fuck-the-system attitude and unremitting speed.
New were the backpacks customized with tufts of long hair and the jackets with hood-veils designed to better enable owners to dive into the land of their smartphones. But overall it was Vetements doing Vetements. The fact is, the wider fashion conversation has already moved forward since the glory days of the brand two or three years ago. But Gvasalia has stubbornly stuck to his guns. The Margiela-isms of the early days long ago gave way to a countercultural brand of aesthetic brutality that’s become a formula. And formulas get tired soon.
Does it mean Vetements is losing its appeal? Probably. Yet, the show today, with its angry and youthful vibe, was energizing. With its cast of high-school outcasts, it felt like a celebration of juvenile rebellion that felt relevant, even more so now that the pendulum of fashion has swung back to formality. In a time of convention, we need rebellion — and vice-versa.