Natalia Alaverdian arrived at Paris Fashion Week with a major score, red carpet-wise: when Navalny won best documentary at the BAFTAs last week, Yulia and Dasha Navalnaya appeared in her designs. That, of course, is about so much more than an awards ceremony. So was the fact that, with no fanfare whatsoever, Yulia traveled to Paris and took her place in the front row for this show.
Alaverdian said that, as she was pulling her thoughts together for fall, she listened to a lot of Vangelis. That, in turn, led to late night sessions with Blade Runner, which became the undercurrent for this outing. Asked what made that film relevant, fashion-wise, she replied, simply, “hopefulness.”
“Emotionally, for me, it’s a little dark and sad and melancholic, but poetic and romantic,” she said. “It says a lot, without a lot of words.” She tried to catch the Blade Runner sky in a palette of deep blues, purple bordering on black, and russet. Textures referenced her love of dance (even though these days she only dances in her living room). “They’re bird-like, flying a bit,” she said, calling the fabrics a mixture of ballet and Japanese buto, brought to life by shimmying tabs that are meant to move like old-fashioned airport flight boards, for example on a deep burgundy slip dress or an acid green velvet top.
As for tailoring, the designer called those extra-wide trousers anchored with metal balls “a space cowboy situation.” Paillettes and shine fall outside of her usual lexicon, but the oxblood sequined gown looked strong. Ditto a red knit dress produced by Ukrainian artisans, and pieces, like billowy cargo pants, that the designer called “screwed up office wear.”
Elsewhere, denims were repurposed to leave nothing to waste: beltlines not worked into checkerboard were turned into trousers in their own right. An “American quilt” denim patchwork ensemble was worn on the runway by Ella Emhoff. In the run-up to the show, the model, designer, and step daughter of the American Vice President was deep in her knitting, as she has been since she first learned it from her mother at age six, as the Secret Service hovered close. Her replicant updo and glossy lips set, Emhoff offered, “immediately during the fitting, that outfit felt so good, like the perfect amount of tough and feminine. I’d wear it to go get coffee.”