There’s throwback, there’s vintage, and then there’s … a collection pulled from this history books? When this Agnès B. show started this morning, the initial look took us back some 200 years or more, back to when the streets of Paris were cobblestone, if you were lucky. Sack dresses, literally, came down the runway along with other looks we now define as “peasant.” The fabrics are contemporary, to be sure. There is no burlap in the mix here. Yet, the looks take us back to the time of the French Revolution. This is the original “street” look. When the models did a finale walk after only a dozen looks, I wasn’t the only one confused.
Then, Agnès sends out a look with which we’re slightly more familiar: A black hoodie and sweats with a blue/yellow print skirt. Her point: street then, versus street now. Her point is a good one. Ready-to-wear needs to be accessible, relateable, and practical; not something so shiny and glittery that only the bourgeois can afford.
So it goes with the remainder of this surprisingly large collection that takes us through a number of different styles as she works from street to office to beach. The first contemporary looks are very laid back and comfortable with plenty of graphic sweatshirts, denim jumpers, hoodies and sweaters. A model making the walk with a suitcase in tow signals the change to “holiday” wear, which not only brings shorts and sleeveless tops with light weight jackets, but also an eye-popping collection for very bright colors, especially yellows and reds, that dramatically contrast the dark bone and blue of the rest of the collection. Transitioning to day-/office-wear is a little more subtle as she introduces a couple of patterned suits that had me wincing with their head-to-toe sameness. Beware of dramatically tapered pants here, which is an anomaly for the collection. Elsewhere, pants are loose and comfortable, but not on these two suits with more of a 1960s vibe to them. We see a lot of very practical, very appropriate knit separates in this section that will work for just about any office. For after 5, the looks get slightly more dressy, with pleated skirts and biker and moto jackets done in iridescent silver.
Toward the end of the collection, the looks get significantly more contemporary, with a graphic printed cape dress bearing a surprising resemblance to one of the peasant dresses at the front of the collection, perhaps proving that, even after 200+ years, fashion styles are still circular.
The most popular item on this catwalk? The brown-spotted cocker spaniel who seemed to quite enjoy being taken for a walk.
Agnès B. makes her point beautifully. Ready-to-wear is about real clothes for real lives. A blatant absence of luxury in this collection is a very stark contrast to so much of what we will see the rest of the day. Women like this label because it meets their most common, every-day style needs in a practical way that is still stylish and well put together. Well done.
Photo credit: Guillaume Roujas