Fashion sees a bleak future, but there’s still a little sparkle in the darkness


PARIS — It was Sunday. And Kanye West took the fashion industry to church.

Specifically, he took people to black church with the Sunday Service Choir.

Whether you believe in a higher power or that after death there is only dust, there is something deeply moving about hearing voices raised in harmony — in a monumental message of hope and faith and possibility.

Even if the words have no meaning to you, the rumble of baritones and the sweetness of the sopranos can still touch the soul.

West was right there at that early morning hour, next to the piano in the center of the circle of singers onstage at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, but mostly he was silent — just smiling and swaying.

The choir members were the stars. They brought their charismatic optimism, their rhythmic body waves and emotive testimonies to shine a little light amid the darkness.

For 90 minutes, it was many voices in beautiful unity.

It was only music: No MAGA hats. No political provocations. No fire and brimstone. No fashion. No talk of pandemics. No controversial Kanye. For 90 minutes, perhaps people could resist the urge to be cynical, to search for the ulterior motive, to be on high alert.

The choir swooped into a Fashion Week that has been practically dystopian.

The coronavirus threat has sent some editors and retailers home early, stopped others from coming altogether and put most everyone on edge.

The Louvre Museum closed. Tourists roam the city in surgical masks.

There’s been an inordinate amount of black on the runway. A glut of big shoulders and hooded cloaks. This isn’t any response to a virus; these collections were sketched out long ago. It all just flows from our long-standing angsty, uneasy sense that some leaden shoe is about to drop.

So many of the clothes on the runway have been born out of a state of instability. That isn’t to say that there are not deeply fascinating ideas coming down the runways here and some wonderfully compelling garments. But they have risen out of painful soul-searching, despair and frustration.

For designer Olivier Rousteing, an exploration of his heritage led him to create his most refined and sophisticated collection for Balmain to date. In recent years, the designer, who was adopted, has aimed to learn more about his personal history — a journey that was documented in the film “Wonder Boy.” He discovered that he was half-Ethiopian and half-Somali — not biracial, as he’d always assumed. The reassessment of his roots had him recalling the rarefied world that he always felt was beyond his reach because of the color of his skin and his background.

Balmain fall-winter 2020-2021 collection.   (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post )

Source: Washington Post


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