In an attention economy, fashion brands know the game is getting as many eyes on their clothes as possible. At Paris fashion week on Thursday, they did that using an age-old tactic: celebrity and hype.
Rick Owens, a brand known for a fairly experimental aesthetic, which includes sky-high Perspex heeled boots for men and a goth’s affinity for black, had the household names Usher and David and Victoria Beckham sat front row.
Louis Vuitton, meanwhile, had BTS member J-Hope watching the show, Rosalia performing in it and Colm Dillane, the founder of brand KidSuper (worn by Neymar and Dua Lipa), as guest designer. The set, a series of domestic spaces, from a teenage bedroom to a mid-century modern living room, was designed by the film-makers Michel and Olivier Gondry.
The celebrities in attendance played their part. Victoria Beckham posted a video of Owens’ show finale to her Instagram stories with the caption: “Congratulations Rick Owens! Kisses VB.” J-Hope posted selfies of himself wearing Louis Vuitton in the lead-up to the show. The hoards of fans outside the show’s venue also helped boost the hype.
After the Rick Owens show, Usher said he had long been a fan, describing the designer as “phenomenal”. “He doesn’t deviate, he’s consistent,” the singer added. “These are clothes you will have in your wardrobe for ever.”
While Owens has gained a reputation for selling luxe classics with a goth twist, the clothes on the catwalk on Thursday were a little more fantastical. They included flared leather thigh-length leg warmers, jackets with horned shoulders and coats with entirely impractical inflatable sections. Owens has long pushed the increasingly mainstream trend of skirts for men – and there were lots here. Perhaps David Beckham would have been reminded of his sarong moment 25 years ago.
The Louis Vuitton show felt designed for a demographic who live on social media, flitting between apps. Stimulation was heightened. Models walked on a catwalk and among the audience, and also interacted with the set – they threw darts at a dartboard, drew on the walls and rummaged in a drawer full of clothes. Rosalia performed on a customised yellow car, and bounced on a bed.
There was also a film playing and cameras whizzed by capturing the show for a livestream.
The clothes – when they caught anyone’s attention – played with logos and different sports, with outfits homaging motocross, skiing and hiking. Boredom was not an option.
Menswear for Louis Vuitton is still in the shadow of the former artistic director Virgil Abloh, who died in November 2021 at the age of 41. Dillane was supported by Abloh – the KidSuper designer was awarded the Karl Lagerfeld prize from LVMH in 2021 when Abloh was on the board.
Dillane’s artistic take on streetwear feels in step with Abloh’s work at Louis Vuitton. It also demonstrates his legacy continues to loom large. Before Abloh, a streetwear brand working with one of the most blue chip luxury houses in the world would have raised eyebrows. Now, it only increases the hype.
The speculation about who will be named as the new creative director continues. Louis Vuitton has said Dillane is a guest designer, and not taking on the position. The British designers Grace Wales Bonner and Martine Rose have both been mentioned as candidates.
Wales Bonner , speaking after her show in Paris on Tuesday, denied she would take over. “I’m really just focused on Wales Bonner,” she told the Guardian. “For me, there’s still a long journey to go with that.”
Rose, meanwhile, has increased the kudos around her name recently. After designing stage wear for Kendrick Lamar, her recent show at Pitti in Florence was widely praised for a mix of, as another magazine said, “seriousness and silliness”.