Luxury Fashion is Finding New and Exciting Expressions

Do you remember the year Coco Chanel started wearing and designing pants for women in the early 20th century, causing high society to clutch their pearls and gasp in collective horror at such audacious vulgarity? Or, when in 1947, Christian Dior threw this same class into further distress by debuting his ‘New Look’ collection in a fashion show that included photographers and a large audience, a sharp departure from the private shows that were considered the norm for haute couture fashion houses?

Luxury fashion is changing as evidenced by this Hermès glove in its latest performance
At a just-concluded show, Hermès transformed their exquisite pieces into performers, like this dancing glove captured here. Image courtesy of Hermès.

Certainly not, because the 20th century is well, a whole century ago. But, luxury fashion appears to be edging towards the brink of yet another set of novel trends, and the possibilities peaking out from its depths hold the promise of truly exciting times ahead.

Marrying luxury fashion with visual arts and culture: On The Wings of Hermès and Goddess Awakened

Public fashion shows may no longer be considered groundbreaking, but putting up an art show where fashion and performance fuse synergistically is certainly a novel and interesting concept.

Singing Kelly Purses at On the wings of Hermès show
Ever thought you would see a chorus of singing Kelly bags? Shows like this may become more common in the future. Image courtesy of Hermès

On Friday, July 17, Hermès welcomed select guests to On The Wings of Hermès, a cinematic performance that ran from the 15th to the 23rd of July at The Barker Hangar in California. Performing on stage for the first time was a chorus of singing Kelly Bags, pairs of dancing interlacing gloves, scarves and lipsticks from the French house.

According to Pierre-Alexis Dumas, Hermès Artistic Director, [On The Wings of Hermès] metaphorically illustrates the lightness that is omnipresent at Hermès: in the delicate hands of our craftsmen sewing with two needles at once; in the elegance of materials, and in the subtle notes of a perfume. It is an experience which sparks the imagination, designed by artisans of dreams.”

Dancers in Nike's merch at a show that highlightss how luxury fashion is changing
Nike staged a dance performance featuring its merch to celebrate women’s achievements. Image courtesy of Elle

For Nike however, incorporating art into fashion was less about illustrating the versatility of the products and the skills that bring them to life, and more about showcasing why the products exist in the first place – for the athletes and the people who embody the ethos of the American brand.

Goddess Awakened, Nike’s immersive show which took place at the end of the Haute Couture week in Paris, focused on amplifying sportswomen’s achievements with the help of over 30 Nike partners and athletes. Performers, dressed in existing and yet-to-be-released merch from the brand held the audience’s attention while also subtly drawing their gaze to the products themselves. Athletes Ibtihaj Mohammed and Scout Bassey also made an appearance, cementing the notion that Nike is committed to being a reliable partner in women’s success stories and not just a mere high-end sports apparel brand.

Dancer at Nike's Goddess Awakened
Would dance performances, immersive displays and other kinds of artistic shows underscore luxury fashion weeks? Image courtesy of Nike

As Nike and Hermès have proven, it is no longer enough for luxury brands to dress up models for a short strut down the walkway. Creatively immersing the audience into how their products are beneficial in real life just might be the 21st century’s version of a fashion show.

Finding new uses for existing luxury items: the Rihanna timepiece necklace and Beyoncé’s Tiffany & Co mesh gown

It is perhaps a wonder that timepieces have managed to remain in existence, in spite of newer technologies that have rendered their primary functions obsolete. Watchmakers like Tag Heuer and Bulgari are elevating these wrist accessories to tech and jewellery pieces that do more than tell the time or calculate speed to keep up with modern needs, but even these might not be enough to keep them on wrists in a new millennium.

Luxury fashion is changing as rihanna wears a watch on her neck
It is still too early to determine whether Rihanna can successfully convince us that timepieces can double as neckpieces. Image courtesy of Jacob&Co

Jacob&Co thinks so too, but the American jewellery house, known for its very complicated, non-traditional designs, does not seem to think that this would mean they would be discarded, but more like they would be worn on other body parts. Which is why when Rihanna approached them with the novel concept of designing a timepiece for her neck, founder Jacob Arabo was quick to say yes and sit with the singer to choose an appropriate piece for the purpose.

In the end, they settled for an 18-karat-gold Flying Tourbillon, set with 339 baguette diamonds, on a custom alligator-embossed calfskin strap and powered by a hand-wound movement and 42-hour power reserve.

Beyonce in custom tiffany&co elsa peretti gown
Incorporating jewellery into garments is not new. Jewellery brands producing clothes with their signature stones and jewels is. Image courtesy of Niche Magazine

Perhaps, it was easier for Jacob&Co to transform a timepiece into a neckwear, seeing as they are a jewellery brand, but how does the latter transform into making high-end garments? Tiffany & Co offers a clue, with their custom-designed Elsa Peretti gown for Beyoncé’s ongoing tour.  The garment – which took 200 hours to make, and was created from 150 feet of mesh ribbon woven with 300,000 rings through the mesh, side panels and shoulders – stole the show just as much as her performance.

Luxury fashion is clearly changing, with different items taking on new forms. It is interesting to see what the next re-imagined trend would be: purses that double as time and wrist pieces? Or perhaps footwear that also work as navigators?

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