Vetements and the Art, and Necessity, of Appropriation
“Everything is appropriation, isn’t it? And I think it is a good thing that we are honest about that. We live in a world that is full of influences, that exist to be copied,” argued Demna Gvasalia.
Every editor of note -and Courtney Love, at the front row- headed to north Paris for this show, staged aptly inside the Marché Paul Bert, a rabbit warren of antique stores, between which the cast walked. And what a cast – wild rebellious youth, some from his native Georgia, who stomped and strutted past the audience of fashionistas and amused, and occasionally furious, dealers.
The actual clothes were bizarre and beautiful compositions – notably the wacky printed shirts where images of buildings, sweets and even Marilyn Manson collided. A sense of returning soldiers or refugees with Desert Storm fatigues, cargo pants and officer’s coats were riddled with holes like a pasta sieve. For cold nights en route to giant rave parties – massive parkas, again covered in big Vetements insignia or exterior branding. All based a Reebok ongoing collaboration, which led to ballooning thick-soled trainers.
“The whole challenge was to make it all look authentically old. That’s actually very difficult,” smiled the designer.
This was the first Vetements collection developed since the company transferred its headquarters to Switzerland, and it probably showed in the quality of the product, even if the clothes were manufactured in Italy. All very sophisticated street style, even if the opening look was a faux grand dame in a brown nylon great coat, with blue jacquard sleeves, and Jackie O sunglasses. But the biggest news was the lettering, a whole series of words and sentences jumbled up on oversized T-Shirts. One even read “Russia Don’t Mess with Me,” at first sight a reference to the designer’s youth, as his family was forced to flee his native Abkhazia region of Georgia after its war with Russia during his childhood.
In effect, he was going back to his own youthful reference, dreaming of having things not available in the old Soviet Union, like a Marilyn Manson T-Shirt.
“It was about my favorite T-Shirts all cut up, so we ended up with some strange messages – it was not meant but is also a kind of destiny.,” smiled Demna in a corner of the antique market.
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