PFW: ISABEL MARANT SPRING/SUMMER 2019

Isabel Marant SS19

Disco is dead. Long live disco. Everywhere we’ve turned this season there has been talking of escaping, whether for political, economic, or environmental reasons. No one wants to stay and deal with what feels like the total decline and collapse of Western Civilization (it’s not, yet) or the possibility that the grandchildren of this Gen Z demographic might not be able to live on this planet without some form of artificial life support. Everyone is looking for a party, so this would seem to be the perfect season for a clothing line who has always been about Bohemian wanderlust. Right?

Apparently not. I had been looking forward to this Isabel Marant show for a couple of weeks, once trends were well established because this spirit of escaping to some exotic location to party is right in Marant’s wheelhouse. She could have lit the runway with new fabrics, new silhouettes, and brilliant new concepts. Nope. Didn’t happen. If anything, it feels very much as though she phoned in this one. Watching these clothes come down the runway recreated the feeling one gets when the grandkids find a box of clothes in grandma’s attic and decide to try them on only for Grandma to exclaim, “Where did you find that? I thought I threw that out years ago!”

Marant reached back to that period right around 1981 when silver Lurex was first popular and those freaking shoulder pads were popular because they looked like the costumes The Commodores wore on stage. The only thing missing was the feathered hairstyles, Jheri curls, and overdone perms. Even the denim looks were straight from that horrible period in time when we actually thought mullets were a good idea.

I know this sounds bad, so have a look for yourself.

A couple of things in this collection do work. Primarily, the boots, which are always a strong part of any Isabel Marant collection. The slouchy boots help offset the unsettling throwback feel of the clothes and are something one can make use of with almost any short skirt or dress. There are several nice choices within the collection and they all should sell quite well.

The second is the lace panels found in a handful of tops. This is the one departure from the solid 80s looks that Marant makes look good. Not that we didn’t’ have lace panels in the early 80s, but Marant updates them just enough to give them a fresh feel rather than something that’s been pulled out of mothballs.

There’s also something to be said for casting Kaia Gerber in a show like this. Watching her come down this runway was an instant throwback to her mom’s early days. Okay, Cindy didn’t actually start until 85 or so, a bit after these looks had come and gone. Still, there was this strange sense of deja vu with both looks Kaia wore. I guess if one’s going to do a throwback collection, getting the children of the original models to walk in it makes sense.

Marant could have done so much more with this collection, though. We know she has the creativity and the insight for producing some incredible looks and this was the perfect season for her to show everyone how Bohemian escapism is done. Perhaps she was too distracted by her new partnership with L’oreal cosmetics. Perhaps next season she’ll be back to truer form.

More from charles i. letbetter

LFW: SIMONGAO F/W 2014

London Fashion Week comes to an end on a very cold note...
Read More