Elsewhere in Paris couture: Yuima Nakazato, Imane Ayissi and Aelis
Paris couture remains a powerful magnate for experimental designers, as the final day witnessed collections from Yuima Nakazato of Japan, Imane Ayissi of Cameroon and Aelis of Italy.
YUIMA NAKAZATO: Elfin couture in a spiritual setting
Got to hand it to Yuima Nakazato, he marches to his own beat. The only Japanese couturier to present a collection this season in Paris, Yuima unveiled a meditative mode staged with grace inside the Oratoire du Louvre, the most famous Protestant church in Paris.
Dry ice engulfed the portal of the church as two skilled dancers – dressed as pale gray spirits - pirouetted to announce the beginning of the action.
The show contained elements of ready-wear and couture, and Nakazato began with the former; black pantsuits, though made with capes and trimmed with fiery orange or violet, matching the models’ hair color.
Before Yuima changed two gears, sending out tie-dyed chiffon spirits and harpies, feathers sprouting occasionally, their hair completed with elf’s ears. All wafting along the stone floor, before an audience perched in the church’s wooden choir seats.
Though the Tokyo-based creator’s biggest idea was his puckered skill fantasies, as if appearing from the nether regions of a samurai movie by Masaki Kobayashi.
IMANE AYISSI: Foufoullou couture
Cameroon have been winning form this month as they host the African Cup of Nations. In Paris, one of its sons - couturier Imane Ayissi - won a major distinction too, right after staging an elegant and expressive couture show.
This was followed by the award of the Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres, one of France’s most prestigious distinctions, pinned on Ayissi’s lapel by Pascal Morand, Executive President of the Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, French high fashion’s governing body.
“Imane has been a model, a boxer, dancer and now a couturier… Though in fashion he has explored the body and the soul. And in his latest career has created many marvels,” said Morand.
In a moving speech Ayissi thanked family, atelier, the Federation, and the house of Yves Saint Laurent for sponsoring his entrance onto the official couture show calendar.
“Couture has not always been easy, but thanks to help of so many generous people and their belief in creativity, we have managed to create our own idea of couture,” said a tearful Ayissi.
An astute and elegant use of bright colors that YSL would have admired – blending fuchsia, chartreuse and a great pebbled marble print – and a harmonious sense of proportion made for a very fine show. Add to that Imane’s artful blending of African influences like raw raffia with sustainable fabrics – he even made two looks out of Chinese bamboo fibers - in a couture first.
Entitled Foufoullou, meaning 'mixed' or 'together' in the Cameroonian language of Ewondo, Ayissi also covered many looks with printed words calling for greater support for ecology.
Presented in a small art gallery before a select group of editors, and former French culture minister Audrey Azoulay, the show captured all of Ayissi’s originality. Plus, Imane’s reputation meant hundreds of fans pressed up against the windows to see the action, by the first sub-Saharan couturier to show in Paris. Ayissi fully merits that respect.
AELIS: Tuscan couture in the Park Hyatt
Sofia Crociani’s Aelis might be a small independent house but she sure can make a big statement fashion video.
Entitled Nirvana, and shot in a Left Bank hotel particulier, it captured her sense of fluid draping, elaborate use of bows and evocative imagery. The cast almost magically appearing and disappearing in the grand mansion, and past a monumental art work by Olafur Eliasson.
With the pandemic never ending, Crociani also held a showroom and private appointments in the Park Hyatt, the better to display her ideas, and let visitors appreciate her noble fabrics.
“The future is so difficult to predict due to Covid. So, I wanted to start with my own memories of jeans, of lace, of films. And from that came the search for Nirvana,” explained the Tuscan couturier, who hails from the historic hilltop town of Montepulciano.
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