The most surprising thing about Bianca Saunders’ second Paris showing was seeing Pierre M’Pelé — aka Instagrammer Pam Boy, and head of editorial content at GQ France — stalking the runway in a trim jeans jacket and slit-front pants.
The designer continued her subtle experiments in clothing construction: inserting a drape in the front of a camp shirt or tailored popover; making dress shirts, pants and trenchcoats stiff in front, and subbing in flimsy lining fabric in the back, and ribbing leather like corduroy and dyeing it denim blue.
“I like the idea of like things appearing to be something else,” she mused backstage before the display at the 3537 cultural center.
Winner of the 2021 ANDAM fashion prize, Saunders said her conceptual jumping off point was Jamaican “hard foods” — yams, green bananas, plantains — that soften when boiled in salted water. These provisions, and snippets of recipes, appeared as prints on some of the opening looks, and served as the backstory for her hard/soft experiments.
The show had a loungey, ’70s vibe, which reached a zenith with a breezy duster coat in a warped lattice print, with a matching turtleneck and pants underneath, and a silver leather blouson and pants that brought to mind Elvis Presley or Evel Knievel.
Standard suits took a backseat to other kinds of dressing sets: silky camp shirts and pajama-like pants; marled knits, often sleeveless on top and cut like sweatpants on the bottom, or full denim looks cut wide and loose.
For his second exit, M’Pelé donned silky black pants and a matching boatneck top with a flap of white silk lapping out, adding enough formality to make it a contender for the red carpet.
“How does a guy dress without a suit? It’s a really good question,” she said, summing up a big focus of the spring 2023 season so far.