Sphere: The intelligent incubator and platform
One must-see community in Paris Fashion Week is Sphere, a combination of showroom, presentation space and video display of vital young talents that present in the French Capital – especially this year, with a vintage crop.
Backed by the Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, DEFI, a state-sponsored fund for start-ups in fashion, and L'Oreal, Sphere is an intelligent incubator and platform in that it accompanies its fledgling brands through the tricky early years while giving them free rein to express their ideas.
We caught up with several talent young creators in this year’s edition to see in which direction Sphere was accompanying them. Each appeared in the Sphere space in Palais de Tokyo, are visible on the FHCM platform and will be represented by happening wholesale fashion platform The New Black.
No one could fault Benjamin Benmoyal for lack of timing. The Paris-based but Israeli-born designer flew to the Canary Islands to shoot his collection video, just weeks before the volcano exploded on the archipelago’s most western island, La Palma.
A graduate of Central St Martins in London, and an alumni of such diverse houses as Alexander McQueen and Hermès, Benmoyal has always trodden a unique path. His signature raw material is used video cassette tapes. A handy source seeing as the Internet has rendered millions of cassettes obsolescent.
His cast emoting languidly around the island, shot away from tourist centers in quiet towns and tiny harbors, in a cute and quirky video directed by Raquel San Nicolas. Attired in white poplin dresses with striped inlay; white jean jackets sewn over ethnic woven zig sag mini dresses; and some really great grandfather shirt cocktails – everything with frayed and ragged hems.
His stockmen boasting giant cylindrical hats, a spoof on Hasidic shtreimel fur hats. “Israel recently passed a law banning fur in the whole country, except they made an exception for Hasidics. This is my way of saying how cray I find that decision,” shrugged the designer.
Thebe Magugu, the family man
He has always been a family man, has Thebe Magugu, who staged a beautiful presentation at Sphere, with looks on Stockmann mannequins posed before life-sized photos of his extended family, shot over multiple generations. When one editor asked if a young man in a photo might be his nephew, the South African designer smiled and replied: “Actually he is my uncle. We took that photo a while ago!”
Magugu even included mini photos of his grandmother as highlights on an elegant striped monogram shirt with contrasting white collar and cuffs. While a mixed material dress in mock paisley featuring his hugging couple logo, done with plissé panels, was very cool. The same logo appearing as buckles on musketeers’ boots. Also impressing were his architectural photo print plissé skirts worn with cut-out shoulder knit tops.
The images also capture how gracefully the Magugu clan lived their lives despite the immense hardships and divisions caused by apartheid in South Africa. Speaking in several African languages, in a subtitled video, one older lady remarks, “sometimes I feel like everyone in the 'hood. You cannot escape (it).”
The family atmosphere was a far cry from a previous collection video of warring Amazons in a cinema of violence fashion flick by Thebe.
“I guess the very violence of the culture in which I live comes out when I express myself,” commented the 2019 LVMH Prize winner, who was a busy man in Paris. Sitting front row at Loewe and Acne Studio shows, and attending the Alber Elbaz memorial show, for which he created a creamy white recycled dress topped by the most beautiful white ostrich feather hat by fellow South African, milliner Crystal Birch.
Germanier’s gutsy genius
One rather genius young talent is the very out there Kevin Germanier, who showed recycled materials to the max. The original Kevin was an Irish monk who founded Glendalough south of Dublin. It still has the Emerald Isle’s most beautiful ancient tower. This Kevin is a wildly creative individual who dreams up techy biomorphic clothes and armor.
Made in recycled beads and plastic bottles and fashioned into plastic body stockings; taut bodices; outlandish cocktail party dresses and natty minaudiere bags. All made in exploding abstract patterns and what look like florals deformed by biological warfare. Think a slimmed down Leigh Bowery, with sex appeal.
“I think my parents gave me the name Kevin so I would be a big strong straight man. But that did not quite work out,” giggled Germanier. They did definitely get a courageous son – since Kevin is definitely the zaniest and bravest young talent to emerge in Paris this season.
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