PARIS, France — If fashion truly works as a mirror, we might expect to see echoes of the tumult roiling public life, which crested with the senate hearings in Washington televised globally on Thursday. And maybe we are seeing some of that reaction, except it’s escape, not engagement, which has driven the season so far. Chloé seemed like the latest example. But it had an idealistic undertow which elevated its ravishing prettiness. Natacha Ramsay-Levi called her collection Hippie Modernism, referencing a 2015 exhibition of that name at the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis whose subtitle, “The Struggle for Utopia,” resonates now as much it did in the 60s. NRL said she loved the whole idea of hippiedom — “people who reboot to a new zero,” with their sense of community and their appetite for revolution. “I want to bring the memory of that into the city.”
And she did, with a collection that felt like a gorgeous trawl through the window-dressing of a higher consciousness. “It’s hippie style, but it’s also new age,” said NRL. She closed her show with a handful of looks in white plissé mousseline, like goddesses from a classical Greek frieze. She wanted that literal association. Same with an Ibiza group: ethnic Ikats, white crochet, fringes, silk scarf collages, knit tank dresses. The “Age of Love” club classic played on the soundtrack. It makes every summer a Summer of Love. With a hint of djellaba here, a kurta there, it was easy to imagine the Chloé girl drifting round the Mediterranean in a heat haze.
The idea of travel souvenirs as inspiration has floated through the season. NRL’s were particularly striking: the pattern of an ancient Persian carpet repeated in a thick-piled coat, stones collected on a beach, polished and studding a jacket or the bodice of a dress. She liked the idea of “taking something poor or prosaic and making it uplifting or sophisticated.” It worked for the clothing and accessories. NRL showed a lot of jewellery. Armlets, anklets, earrings — “Objects that are in charge of emotion,” she called them. Like amulets, imbued with magic and memory. Again, easy to imagine them seducing Chloé’s clientele.
Was it my imagination? Did I hear sighs of desire coming from the women around me? The easiness, the flow of the collection suggested maximum impact with relatively minimum effort, all of it infused with NRL’s neo-hippie consciousness. “We have to change our way of living,” she said. “Hippie is one proposal. How can we reinterpret that?” She offered a pretty convincing blueprint.