>> Every season you have show soundtracks that invariably drift in and out of your head throughout the month, with the ones in Paris, most likely to linger. It is the city where, due to a combination of grand venues with amplified acoustics and of course shows of great magnitude, you get a heightened atmosphere that means you exit shows, affected and *feeling* the shows more poignantly than you would in other cities. Especially when you have a gap after a show and you can walk for a bit to really mull over what you’ve just seen. Through their choice of music, you’re understanding a designer’s vision and mindset without even interviewing them afterwards. I probably have a tendency to read too much into song choices and lyrics (where applicable) but it’s also unlikely that tracks were chosen willy nilly. These were the ones that made a lasting impression this season.
Missy Elliott – Work (R4 Trap Remix) – Most banging track of the season goes to this well-chosen Missy Elliott remix. Proenza Schouler’s show was fast. The frenetic intonations of “Work it, work it, work it…” definitely revved up the pace of the models. The glitch patterns on their dresses ran parallel to the sped up squeaked-up rap. That rapid-fire phrase of “Work it/Werk It” in relation to Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough, asserted why they’re at the top of the pile in New York. Because they do REALLY work it and that shows in their tricked-out fabrications and cohesive collections. Their show also came neatly at the end of New York Fashion Week, where too many shows blurred into one, and the ra-ta-ta-ra-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta drill in the song was like the rhythmic representation of NYFW for me. You better work it if you’re going to separate out yourself as the wheat from the chaff.
Let me work it, let me werk it, let me work it, let me werk it, work it, werk it, work it, werk it, work it, werk it…
Julia Holter – Marienbad – I don’t think I’ve ever really had a transcendent Erdem show experience. Don’t get me wrong. Erdem’s prettiness is mucho appreciated from a floral lace lover like myself and I’m all for things that are nice and fancy. His A/W 14-5 had an unfettered and raw-edged feeling compounded by this Marienbad song by Julia Holter. The layering of ghostly angelic vocals mirrored the clothes beautifully. It’s the sort of song that suits the meandering darkly romantic mash-up of Romanovs on the run, 17th century Velázquez paintings and muses like Betty Catroux.
Oh, oh, oh
Talk to me…!
..the human whispers so cold…
A few more sights…
The human whisper so cold
Cloud Castle Lake – A Wolf Howling – I’ve already said that the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern is definitely up there as one of my favourite Topshop LFW spaces. Its vast space was made for Irish band Cloud Castle Lake to fill those ceiling heights with a sonic boom of a perfomance at the Simone Rocha show. Rocha always gets me with her soundtracks and her brother Max as always was responsible for the music curation. The track “A Wolf Howling” with its menacing tone and almost visceral strumming was to herald an angrier side of Rocha. She riffed off of Elizabethan portraiture and costume but she did it with her own language, which meant there was a stompy-girl bolshiness. That is precisely why women feel such a strong affinity with Rocha’s clothes and world. She is attuned to female emotion, but never in an obvious way – the music she chooses correlates with that kind of nuance.
Dries van Noten
School is Cool – Black Dog Panting – All hail the Belgians! It really was a Dries bonanza of a week, with the Belgian master starting Paris off with a jolt of a collection and then being at the centre of what in my mind is one of the best fashion exhibitions I’ve seen in a long time. For Dries’ A/W 14-5 show, he asked fellow Belgian band School is Cool to contribute a track that builds up from a dark synthy slow burner and slightly robotic vocals which leads almost into an entirely different song with banging drums and hymn-like chanting. It matched the build-up of the collection as warped out op-art prints undulating on separates gave way to euphoric holographic pieces and metallic floral blooms exploding towards the end as prints and as physical embellishments.
Don’t wanna talk about it
Don’t wanna hear about it
Don’t wanna think about it
I wanna shrug it off.
50 Cent feat Justin Timberlake – Ayo Technology – “I’m French, I’m black and I’m proud to be at Balmain,” stated Olivier Rousteing in a matter-of-fact way after the Balmain A/W 14-5 show. Gone was the old venue and gone was the Magic FM soundtrack. This was Rousteing stamping his own identity through the entire show, and by choosing to use his childhood hero 50 Cent as the soundtrack was significant. Ok, forget the eye-wincing misogyny of the lyrics but instead look at the way Rousteing is marking himself out as sadly, one of the very few black people working in the top echelons of fashion design. Nay, fashion period. The song was repeated and layered with operatic vocals on top as if to combine something from his “hood” with something elevated. That parlays well into the collection itself, which threw out the OTT camp factor of Balmain’s recent DNA and instead was a more grounded and rooted uniform for Rousteing’s vision of an urban jungle.
Baby this a new age, you like my new craze
Let’s get together maybe we can start a new phase
I’m tired of using technology, why don’t you sit down on top of me
I’m writing Dior up separately but for pure energy alone, it’s worth giving the thumbs-up to two of the tracks used in the Dior soundtrack. One got things started and the other closed out the show. Thumping, fast and to-the-point – much like the collection itself which was to me, one of the most cohesive ready to wear outings that Raf Simons has done for Dior and also one that has felt the most “him”. More Simons and less homage is definitely a good thing in my book. I love how the set of digital LED flowers casting their shifting light married up with the digi-bleatings of the French Fries track and how the drum beat of the Vitalic track coursed through the dynamic footsteps of the rubber-soled trainer/heel hybrid shoes of the show. They’re the sort of tracks that should leave you cold and detached. Instead you wanted more and for the drum to just keep on beating.
French Fries – Bug Noticed
Vitalic – Poney Part 1
Soundtrack by David Lynch – Coup of the week definitely belongs to Kenzo’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, who got to work with David Lynch on both the set and soundtrack of the show. I couldn’t see the sculpture and LED-screen backdrop until after the show but the disfigured haunting face of this clay mass definitely had you on an edge, much like the ambient and mysterious soundtrack. “I wanted to try to get a different feel for a runway show, having mystery and emotion swimming together,” said Lynch in the press notes. All in all, it made for a much more introspective and macabre Kenzo outing, in contrast to their more peppy/poppy shows previously. Lim and Leon took Lynchian tropes and worked them both literally and figuratively into the collection and as Lynch aptly put it, you did feel like your head was “swimming” – wandering between the clothes and the quiet “woosh” and ghostly sounds of Lynch’s contribution.
Soundtrack by The Martinez Brothers – I’m waiting for a HQ upload of the soundtrack because this video is utterly rubbish at conveying how the Martinez Brothers’ live set vibrated through the venue. The crescendo of the music was matched up by a more finessed outing from Riccardo Tisci – less street, more about super strong clothes. I don’t know how else to put it without sounding a bit simplistic. Tailoring and fur outerwear spliced with graphic bands of fabric, chiffon dresses with abstracted prints that felt controlled rather than wild and animal motifs that were kept in line with Tisci’s idea of elegance, rather left to run amok with kitsch. The Martinez Brothers, close collaborators of Tisci did a brilliant job of expressing this newfound sense of control.
Bjork – Bachelorette – It wasn’t a season to fantasise and get lost into collections as so many were rooted in the idea of home comfort and sturdiness. No, don’t make me say it – there is that other word “normcore” that has been doing the rounds in people’s consciousness. Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen bucked all of that and just did things her way, imagining some wild hinterland, where beautiful gowns trail over smoking moss-covered craggy rock. Bjork’s Bachelorette track was due for a show outing. You don’t tire of Bjork’s kind of poetry and likewise, Burton’s sense of the ethereal and the otherworldly is something you’ll ALWAYS want to escape to, whatever the mood of the season. I banish thee, trends and “current” zeitgeist. Just give me a beautiful virginal frock that is so mind blowingly hand crafted, together with Bjork’s epic tale and I’ll leave floating on cloud nine.
I’m a fountain of blood
In the shape of a girl
You’re the bird on the brim
Hypnotised by the Whirl
The show of the season due to the tantamount anticipation in the run-up? Quite possibly. It deserves a separate and more thorough write-up too. But there was so much to be read in Nicolas Ghesquière’s choice of songs. I’ve missed off the Connan Mockasin track in the middle but the beginning and the end has to be delved into.
Skream feat. Kelis – Copy Cat – Kelis purring at the beginning was a genius move on Ghesquière and master maestro Michel Gaubert’s part as they, intentionally or not, called out the countless copycats out there, that Ghesquière has inspired in his wake, through his tenure at Balenciaga. As the Tumblr blog goes, Balenciaga did often do it first. The song compounding with the show reminded you how GOOD it felt to have Ghesquière back in the game, doing his thing, and inciting copyists along the way. This Show was a systematic refresh and reboot that will leave some scratching their heads. Why so simple and clean, some will ask? It’s all in the layers and in the workmanship secrets shared between Ghesquière and the Louis Vuitton atelier. The slinky cat and mouse game that Kelis plays with her voice in this seductive track is kind of like Ghesquière keeping people guessing all the time. As a conscientious and thorough designer, always ahead of the curve, no doubt we’re in for game-changing times at Louis Vuitton. Will a Louis Vuitton Did it First Tumblr spring up eventually? Probably.
Oh come here, copycat!
You’re my puppet, you know I love it!
Look at you, you’re the best thing ever
Everything you do is something I remember, so clever
Beyoncé – Ghost/Haunted – The choice of Beyoncé’s most introspective and probably most intriguing song from her surprise album dropped last year is also a poignant one. Beyoncé sings about the trapped cycle of the record industry in the first part of this composite track Ghost/Haunted – “9 to 5, just to stay alive” – when you read back on Ghesquière’s interview with System and 032c, you get the feeling that this is Ghesquière also expressing his frustration of the trappings of a mechanic fashion industry. “Soul not for sale, probably won’t make any money off this, oh well” Creativity versus commerce is a prevalent topic in fashion today and nobody knows the pressure of balancing the two more than Ghesquière. Will Louis Vuitton be the house where he can rectify that balance? Time will tell. The joy expressed in his typed-out note, left for guests, though can’t be masked. “Today is a new day. A big day,” says Ghesquière. And his smiling finale bow also spoke volumes. The light filtering in from the mechanic venetian blinds ushered in a new era. And we were left haunted in a good way by a collection that is merely just the refreshed beginning to set Ghesquière on his path to reaching a new fashion zenith.
All the shit I do is boring
All these record labels boring
I don’t trust these record labels I’m torn
All these people on the planet
Working 9 to 5, just to stay alive
The 9 to 5, just to stay alive
Soul not for sale
Probably won’t make no money off this, oh well
It’s what you do
It’s what you see
I know if I’m haunting you
You must be haunting me