CHRISTIAN WIJNANTS AUTUMN/WINTER 2015-16 READY-TO-WEAR PARIS FASHION WEEK
Taking portraits of straitened Southern African farmers as inspiration for a show held in a Parisian palace, then issuing a release that praises “the random beauty of their haphazard, survivalist draping” seems a tad tone-deaf. Yet the Irish photographer Jackie Nickerson’s Farm series does linger on the sculpture of its subjects’ improvised clothing (as does her much-cited-in-menswear Sapeur series), and it is beautiful to behold.
In fact, early in the show when Christian Wijnants showed a banana leaf motif, presented via print or mohair and viscose jacquard, those pieces appeared underwhelmingly contrived in comparison with his inspiration. Shorn of that comparison, however, they were texturally compelling. Mohair knit shorts, tank tops, and blankets came with Swarovski crystals embedded deep within to soften the glint. Cord-tied skirts were topped with billowing plastic coats. There was gingham. It was OK.
This collection hit its stride when Wijnants took samples of all his previous ingredients to fashion a blocky topography of patchwork, stitch, and fringe. Those closing dresses made the conceit of the collection work: They honored the improvised spirit of Nickerson’s subjects by bearing marks of exciting creative improvisation themselves.