The top 5 fashion shows of 2021

For the FW21 and SS22 seasons, many designers returned to the catwalk to showcase their collections, often using elaborate sets or unusual locations. As the year draws to a close, FashionUnited looks back on the five best from 2021.

5. Louis Vuitton Ready to wear: SS2022

SS 22 Louis Vuitton RTW/Catwalk Pictures

The Louvre’s Passage Richelieu was decorated with dozens of antique chandeliers for the Louis Vuitton RTW Show that concluded the SS22 Paris Fashion Week. It set the tone for a collection that designer Nicolas Ghesquière described as “vampire chic,” inspired by designing costumes for Alicia Vikander and other characters from the HBO series “Irma Vep.” While working at Louis Vuitton, Ghesquière has shown that he likes to play with the concept of time and in the show notes he wrote: “The Spring-Summer 2022 collection is an invitation to ‘Le grand bal of Time’. Tonight time is of no importance. Yet time is everything. It solves functions and codes. It unites wardrobes. Day becomes night. The humble uniform becomes opulent.”

SS 22 Louis Vuitton RTW/Catwalk Pictures
SS 22 Louis Vuitton RTW/Catwalk Pictures

The collection also played with size and shape, combining elements to create unexpected shapes, such as a pleated skirt that could be turned into a cape. Light dresses in shredded chiffon with hoop skirts in the shape of a rack were reminiscent of the early days of Louis Vuitton, as a tribute to the 200th birthday of the founder. Many celebrities were in the audience for this highly anticipated show, which did not disappoint. Even the sudden interruption of an activist storming the catwalk with a banner reading “Overconsumption = Extinction” couldn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm.

4. AZ Factory: SS22 – Love Brings Love

SS22 AZ Factory RTW/Catwalk Pictures

Alber Elbaz was loved by the international fashion community, who were deeply shocked when he passed away from Covid-19 in April at just 59 years old. 45 designers and Elbaz’s design team from AZ Factory gathered to celebrate his life and work. Many of them, including Dries van Noten, Olivier Rousteing, Rick Owens, Iris van Herpen, Pierpaolo Piccioli, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Jean Paul Gaultier, joined France’s First Lady Brigitte Macron and his family members in the audience.

SS22 AZ Factory RTW/Catwalk Pictures
SS22 AZ Factory/Catwalk Pictures

Each look was based on the designers’ personal connection to Elbaz, and many of his signature techniques were celebrated throughout the collection. It was recently announced that an exhibition from March 5 to July 10, 2022 at the Palais Galliera in Paris will showcase all the looks from the show.

3. Pyer Moss: FW21 Couture – WAT U IZ.

FW21 Couture Pyer Moss/Courtesy Pyer Moss

History was made in July when Kerby Jean-Raymond, the designer of Pyer Moss, became the first black designer to officially show on the Couture schedule with a collection called ‘WHAT U IZ’. Jean-Raymond had to move his show to two days later after heavy rain. The presentation started with a remarkable spoken opening speech by former Black Panther Party chairman Elaine Brown, followed by a performance by 22Gz, who, like Jean-Raymond, hails from the Flatbush borough of Brooklyn.

FW21 Couture Pyer Moss/Courtesy Pyer Moss
FW21 Couture Pyer Moss/Courtesy Pyer Moss

The collection was displayed at New York’s Villa Lewaro, the estate of CJ Walker, an inventor and the first female selfmade millionaire in American history. A poignant location as each of the 25 looks contains an object invented by a black person, from fire extinguishers to cell phones to the traffic light. The designer’s website wrote: “The collection is both a celebration of black culture and a critique of the fixation of others trying to capitalize on black trauma”.

2. Louis Vuitton: SS22 Menswear – Virgil Was Here

SS22 Louis Vuitton Menswear /Catwalk Pictures

In loving memory of Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton paid tribute to the life and legacy of a creative genius with a reprise of its SS22 collection. The show was held in Miamil. The invitees were transferred in gray speedboats with the Louis Vuitton logo and monogram stenciled in blue on the side, along with the numbers 7.2, representing the rerun of Abloh’s seventh show in front of the house.

SS22 Louis Vuitton Menswear /Catwalk Pictures
SS22 Louis Vuitton Menswear /Catwalk Pictures

Many familiar faces were seen in the 1,500-strong audience. Kim Kardashian and ex-husband Kanye West made a rare joint public appearance with their daughter North. Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, Bella Hadid, Pharrell Williams, Venus Williams, Joe Jonas, Ricky Martin, 21 Savage, Joan Smalls and Jesse Williams were all in attendance. In terms of fashion, there were references to the ’90s ravers, including lots of solid and ombré colors. Knitted football shirts with Louis Vuitton logo, fully pleated or flared skirts, belted blazers and puffers. Each look was richly decorated with bags in different styles, including a backpack in the shape of a neon-colored fish.

1. Gucci: Pre-Fall 22 – Love Parade

Pre-Fall 22 Gucci/Catwalk Pictures

In early November, 115 models and celebrities, including Macaulay Culkin, St. Vincent, Miranda July, Jodie Turner-Smith, and Jared Leto, paraded along Hollywood Blvd. in a variety of looks, including sequin dresses, boas, and 1970s-style three-piece suits. The looks referenced both the past and present of the fashion house and Hollywood.

Pre-Fall 22 Gucci/Catwalk Pictures

Gwyneth Paltrow sat in the front row alongside Miley Cyrus, Lizzo and Serena Williams, wearing an updated version of the Tom Ford-designed red velvet Gucci tuxedo she wore earlier in the 1990s. Michele says his mother, a movie buff and assistant in a production company, fueled his love for old Hollywood.

Pre-Fall 22 Gucci/Catwalk Pictures

“Hollywood seemed like a bright and shining star,” Michele wrote in his show notes, explaining the glamorous aesthetic of golden age cinema that often inspires his collections. “Nine letters dripping with desire.”

This article first appeared on FashionUnited.UK, then translated and edited into Dutch by Ilona Fonteijn.


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