What the Critics Said About Paris Fashion Week, and What They Really Meant

"Collateral damage in a tuna hunt." Photo: imaxtree

The reviews from Paris Fashion Week are clogging the Internet with words that resemble English but don't necessarily make a lot of sense. That means it's time for another edition of "What They Really Meant," where we read the fashion reviews so you don't have to. You've worked hard enough today already.

Robin Givhan on the concept of edginess for the Washington Post:

The term once implied that a designer was balanced at the rim of an abyss — an aesthetic one — and was prepared to make a leap. At minimum, edgy designers intended to shock the audience and make people rethink their assumptions. Edginess was about fraying the status quo.

But like a lot of designations in fashion — "luxury" being the prime example — it has turned hollow.


What it means: Remember how Jay Z was going to retire and then popped up in Budweiser commercials? Yeah, well, "edginess" on the runway is a sellout, too. When everyone does it, it's just an eye roller.

Nicole Phelps on Veronique Branquinho for Style.com:

Jersey shifts color-blocked in heather gray and black, and lace frocks in copper or emerald green rounded out an understated collection. Branquinho didn't add much to this season's fashion conversation, but the smart, self-possessed girls who number among her fans will find things to like.

What it means: She showed clothes the way a real woman with a sophisticated career would actually wear them — so no one's going to talk about the line. Sorry, what designer were we talking about again?

Cathy Horyn on Rick Owens for the New York Times:

If you were to mentally trace the silhouette made by a jacket’s extra volumes — the cubes, the wings of fabrics — you would roughly have the outline of the contemporary person in the street, with her layers.

What it means: If you traced the shadow of a model wearing a Rick Owens coat, it would match up with the shadow of a normal woman — hips included!

Suzy Menkes on Balenciaga for the International Herald Tribune:

In many ways the collection was calmer and more classic, although the latex added a sexual element. That came too when top and bottom halves of an outfit were divided with a gauzy insert, as though flesh were allowed to breathe through the carapace. The hand-painted latex of the finale, recalling both Ghesquière's early scuba prints and noble warrior paintings, were a tour de force of the imagination in this stellar show.

What it means: Latex is the future of fashion, and it's going to be sexy in a non-stripper way. Yesssss!

Hilary Alexander on Junya Watanabe for the Telegraph:

The models’ faces were hidden behind black ‘stockings’ which stretched upwards and over what looked like a series of tennis-balls or clay pitchers, forming extraordinary growths on top of their heads.

Perhaps the models’ faces were hidden in order we might not be distracted and, thus, focus more on the clothes.

Perhaps not. It certainly wasn’t, as I had wondered, inspired by ancient peasant-women carrying urns or baskets of fruit on their heads.

Watanabe seemed disconcerted by my suggestion. But then, he didn’t really know why either. It seemed the right thing, was the best explanation I could get.


What it means: Guilty! Watanabe attempted creepy edginess for edginess' sake. Also, critics really overanalyze these things.