Paris Fashion Week, June. Everything was going pretty smoothly – and then the horses started shitting. At the Casablanca show, there were four shiny horse pens in the middle of the carpeted runway, looking pretty and a little restless as guests filed into their seats. As influencers approached the paddock to take selfies with the horses – and the horses took selfies of their own – the scene struck me as a powerful symbol of the heady atmosphere that permeated the high fashion ecosystem this summer, the first since the start of covid where the runway calendar was packed personal appearances, presentations and parties. The prevailing wisdom seemed to be that beautiful clothes were no longer glamorous enough—or perhaps no longer the point of a runway show. You needed cool clothes, but you also needed a horse.
“Fashion Week” (an imprecise term, but the best we’ve got so far) hasn’t been the insider business thing it once was since the rise of the supermodel in the 1990s. And in this day and age, when thousands and thousands of people watch dozens of shows in person and on their phones, brands have to come up with ever more sophisticated ways to entertain them. Audiences expect more than just a bunch of models walking the catwalk: they expect a performance. This year, brands delivered in extravagant fashion. Louis Vuitton, for example, erected a colossal dream world in the courtyard of the Louvre to pay its last respects to Virgil Abloh, complete with a marching band flown in from Tallahassee and a concert by Kendrick Lamar. The other bends were more subtle. Gucci, in what would be Alessandro Michele’s final show for the Milanese powerhouse, cast 68 sets of carefully sourced identical twins. Budding designers have also gotten in on the fun in their own way, like when Mowalola returned from a three-year hiatus with a collection of body-baring church wear. The message was clear: as long as fashion is at the center of popular culture and money floods the ecosystem, brands will behave accordingly.
On the other hand, 2022 may be remembered as the year when the whole endeavor got a little too ambitious – when things started to go wrong. Like when the music started in Casablanca and the spooked horses started pooping on the floor, which most of the guests tried to ignore. (The smell was hard to miss, though.) It was a reminder, as important as ever, that the best payoff is often when you peel back the layers of the spectacle and remember why these shows exist in the first place. Beneath all the ‘gramable moments and VVIP front rows, and at the center of the constellation of events and activations now circling the traditional schedule, there is hopefully some beautiful and impressive clothing that will inform the way you and I dress.
With the menswear shows banging around the corner – things kick off at Pitti Uomo in Florence on January 10th! – we look back, with a clear fascination with the events this GQ writer was present at, at moments from this year’s men’s shows. which we will not soon forget.
When it comes to the scope and ambition of his work, the only person Kim Jones can surpass is himself. This year, Jones unveiled Dior’s busy collaboration with ERL in LA and ended the year by celebrating not one, but two blockbuster collections in Cairo, including one presented to 800 guests in front of the awe-inspiring Pyramids of Giza. The second was a collaboration with the buzzing and brilliant Tremain Emory of Denim Tears. (Supreme x Dior Men’s when?) But Jones set the tone for a year defined by a quieter form of hype with his first Dior outing in February, where models stepped out in gray and beige wool and leather Birkenstocks that would have gone screaming off retail shelves for $1,100 + pop, sold out many times. There have been plenty of exciting trends in menswear this year, but you’ve got to tip your Steven Jones Millinery beret to Jones for ensuring the most in-demand shoe of the year was the designer’s green thumb-inspired gardening mules.
Maryam Nassir Zadeh
February, New York