Even Vetements’ earliest adopters barely had a second to get there first. In March, the then one-year-old label was quite literally a buzzy underground curiosity. The fall collection was shown in the basement of a seedy Paris sex club in front of a small but influential fashion audience who heard fresh blood was in the water. A season later, the vultures have descended. A tiny label with minimal distribution now has a full-blown profile — you couldn’t even count one prominent glossy’s editors on two hands.
The draw is Vetements’ antifashion, its way of manipulating the utmost mundane, familiar garments — novelty T-shirts, trenches, jeans and blue-collar work uniforms — into something with powerful, alien appeal. Demna Gvasalia and his design collective are serving the glossy fashion crowd a taste of something curdled and they’re lapping it up.
Held at kitsch Chinatown dining institution Le Président, the show opened with a nonmodel, average-looking guy wearing a yellow DHL T-shirt under a black short-sleeve button-down and shiny black pants. So seemingly ordinary was the look, he could’ve been there to ask someone to sign for a delivery. The casting in general defied the conventions of runway beauty with awkward, androgynously punkish models who appeared to be regular people — but not the girls and boys next door. You wouldn’t call them to babysit, but the uncomfortable misfit look enhanced the clothes.
The collection was consistent with past outings, showing those new to the party what the label is about: egregiously oversize tailoring; a top made out of two safety-orange workwear shirts that were attached back to back; floral aprons that brought to mind cheap plastic kitchen tablecloths; basic sweatshirts and jeans artfully cut up and disproportioned as if customized by your coolest, weirdest design school friend. Footwear was very important: waderlike boots, oversize and crumpled, with pointy cowboy boot shapes came in floral patterns to coordinate with vintage-y print dresses — which actually was quite a pretty moment in the show. Slinky socklike over-the-knee boots with a heel shaped like a lighter came in sour acid tones to clash with the clothes.
The pace of the show matched the pace of Vetements’ trajectory thus far — as fast as it could go. We’ll see where it ends up.