THE DEMNA FACTOR
A DHL t-shirt that costs €249, the notorious stitched together ‘diaper-butt‘ denims made from reworked vintage jeans, the oversized hoodies emblazoned with ‘don’t fu*& with me’ slogans; whether you love it or hate it, Vetements, the newest it-label to hit the runway is causing quite the ripple effect in fashion from couture (yes, couture!) to ready-to-wear and drip-feeding into the high street. Counting fans as diverse as North West and Kim Kardashian, Kanye’s arch enemy, good-girl-gone-bad Taylor Swift and president of Comme des Garçons and Dover Street Market, Adrian Joffe, Vetements is upping the ante when it comes to urban streetwear. Creative director, Demna Gvasalia (also of Balenciaga), seemed to emerge from a vacuum when he made his runway debut with the first Vetements collection back in Fall 2014. Yes, the athleisure movement existed (hello Alexander Wang). Yes, there was elevated streetwear in spades. But what Vetements offered in attitude was off-the-scale.
THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES?
Remember when John Galliano was crowned head of Maison Martin Margiela after years of having an anonymous group of designers at the helm? It’s a marriage made in hell, they cried. His designs are too flamboyant, his aesthetic too feminine. Galliano’s origins in Les Incroyables was all too soon forgotten as was his attitude to (de)construction and recycling (albeit antiquities). After his initial showing of a tightly edited Artisanal collection, it was Galliano’s first foray into ready-to-wear as the creative force behind Maison Martin Margiela that really ruffled some feathers. Sending stooped models down the runway who, from afar appeared like eccentric old bag ladies but on closer inspection became the modern Miss Havisham if she got revenge on her ex: Larger-than-life lipstick and smeared eyeliner paired with the paper-bag accessories and floppy hats infused an anti-establishment vibe throughout the collection. Once synonymous with flamboyant femininity, this collection was a total departure for Galliano. There was a serious whiff of “I don’t do pretty” anymore. Cue Demna and Guram Gvasalia, the two brothers behind the fash-pack’s newest obsession, Vetements. Harnessing some seriously 90s vibes, Vetements created a new precedent in the world of couture. Teaming up with cult 90s labels like Juicy Couture, Levi’s, Hanes, Manolo Blahnik and Comme des Garçons for spring summer 2017, Vetements is giving the finger to the conventions of couture and the expectations of the establishment.
HELLO DEMNA, IS IT ME YOU’RE LOOKING FOR?
I have never chosen the easy path. I never wanted it. I excelled in academia but chose a creative career. I was abominable at sports and still am but am most comfortable when wearing something sporty. I love pink but detest feminine. I hate Vetements but I love it. I hate that the oversized hoodies and ironic tracksuits are coming with a four figure price tag but I love that high fashion isn’t all about the delicacy of females. To me, modern femininity is embodied by strength of character, the unwavering ability to be oneself. It’s having the self-assurance to wear your most comfortable, oversized hoodie and a borrowed-from-the-boys jacket with soccer stockings and thigh-high boots. It’s wearing too much eye-makeup and too much lipstick and exuding fierceness.
VETEMENTS: CODE FOR FASHION, LITERALLY
As subversive as it might seem, Vetements is blindingly simple. The word vetements, from French, literally means ‘clothes.’ And that is exactly what the Vetements effect is. These are clothes, not stories or outfits or armour or uniforms. The inimitable hoodie, never rivalled for comfort, the resurgence of the puffer jacket, again a highly functional item of clothing and the reworked vintage jeans. It has been decoded and interpreted and analysed, but at its most basic, Vetements is quite literally fashion.
Photos: Neal Byrne
Styling/concept: Mary Cate Smith.
Mesh t-shirt: Penneys/Primark
Socks: Lifestyle sports
Boots: Altuzarra for Target
Coats: Stylist’s own (brown suede, vintage, red ‘puffa’ TK Maxx)
Jewellery: Tory Burch bracelet worn as choker, Topshop necklace worn as choker