Fashion Week SPACE

Paris Fashion Week: Vetements Just Wants Everyone to Be Together—in Hoodies, Ruffles and Denim

The scene on Thursday night outside an Episcopal church on upscale Avenue George V was cinematic; artists and the proletariat, the extravagantly dressed and the elegantly gifted, all in the moonlight of Paris—just waiting to see what SPACE brand Vetements had to show them for Fall 2016.

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All Vetements street scene images by Nordstrom street style photographer Kristin Yamada

We need to put people back together,” Guram Gvasalia told us in the audio clip you’ll find later in this post. Guram’s brother is the celebrated designer Demna Gvasalia, the creative director at Vetements and also the newly appointed designer at Balenciaga (he shows his first collection for the house on Sunday, March 6). Together with an extended family of friends, the brothers created what is arguably the most important brand in fashion right now.

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We spent two hours in the Vetements showroom with SPACE curator Olivia Kim and her team a few days after the runway presentation, which was when Guram made the aforementioned remark—a reference to the immediacy of their runway presentations (keep reading for video), but also an allusion to their general approach. They want what’s now, what’s real, what’s tangible and knowable and honest—and they want that for you, too. 

The fact that a bonafide movement has sprung up around Vetements, and that their collections often sell out on pre-order, is evidence that they are bringing people into a sort of circle of believers—believers in the future and in fashion, and believers in an anti-future and an anti-fashion.

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A single cellophane-wrapped rose served as an invitation to the show. Despite the strong vibe of the brand’s collection, there isn’t necessarily one look that unites those who follow Vetements—there’s too many ways to make the pieces your own—but the roses did work as an identifier of sorts.

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Still, if you wanted to pin down the aesthetic with a few key pieces, the quickest answer is: nylon bomber jackets, long-sleeve logo tees, hoodies and re-tooled denim.

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The Vetements Coming Soon hoodie

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Vetements long-sleeve tee

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In addition to all the “real” people you see here, the bold face names came in droves, too. This New York Times‘ roll call included Kanye, Anna, and W‘s Stefano Tonchi. (They had our own Jeffrey Kalinsky on the list, too.)

Olivia Kim grabbed a video of the finale walk.

If you feel almost claustrophobic watching it, Guram’s plan is working.

In this audio clip, he told me why Vetements runway aisles are so narrow, and why he and his brother eschew multiple rows in favor of labyrinthian walkways that allow everyone to sit ringside.

At the end of the clip Guram mentions that there are too many clothes in the world already. This has been a Vetements truism since the beginning. Yes, they do make clothes—the world vetements translates to ‘clothes’—but as he mentions here, their aim is to put something special back in the world. To connect people to their clothing, and to their world.

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While the runway is a sort of performance art version of that endeavor, a visit to the showroom with SPACE buyers is a working-world application of it.

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As I’ve detailed in previous accounts of showroom visits with Olivia and crew, their buying trips aren’t much different than your shopping trips. Maybe the biggest difference is that they don’t try things like you do; instead, the showroom models do.

Models—in the showroom, on the runway, in print and digital images—are one tangential but no less important way that Vetements has wielded major influence in the fashion world. Theirs are most often not traditional, classic fashion beauties because they often don’t come from fashion. They’re real. Street and/or friends-and-family style casting is definitely a trend, but it’s still new enough that those who are doing it are doing it organically and authentically. With purpose. The models that Vetements casts and hires are so real they seem almost extraordinary really.

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In the showroom and on the runway, these alluring and singular carriers of the clothing bring a tangible sense of personality to the pieces. What’s behind their gaze and informing their stance is highly specific, yet it helps us see that there’s something singular and specific in everyone who’s drawn to Vetements.

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People who buy these clothes have stories, and there’s a real responsibility inherent in knowing that. I felt that as Guram and his team lead our team through the racks and the details of everything they found there.

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Because here’s the thing: each of the looks in the collection are exceptional, too. One silhouette might be exaggerated and overtly structured, the next might feel abbreviated and almost incomplete. The re-tooled Levi’s have taut edging and highly constructed seams, but the ruffled dresses have undone frills and asymmetrical finishing. A logo here might seem to convey a serious weight, the next tagline can read like an inside joke.

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There’s no one way to do or be Vetements, and that’s the beauty of it. We look forward to seeing what you do with it.

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SHOP: current season Vetements

—Laura Cassidy