Première Vision

Or PV, as it’s referred to by those who attend, is a fashion textile show held in Paris twice a year.  As its name suggests, it’s an initial view into apparel and accessory collection ideas for next year’s seasons.  Held twice a year, this past week’s show was Autumn/Winter 16/17.

And now’s the time.  Styles for next Autumn will already be in stores next year at this time, soon followed by Winter.  It may seem like a long way off, but from now till then it’s a non-stop effort to pull collection designs together, merchandise and edit a line, place fabric, accessory, and garment orders, tweaking design, color and fit during the process, all the while considering production time and logistics, which usually involves raw material and finished product being developed, made, and shipped from halfway around the world.

one of the hundreds of mini-themes

one of the hundreds of mini-themes

The last time I attended PV was 20 years ago. Not much has changed since then in its format. The show is about new yarns, fabrics, designs, colors, textures, accessories, and prints — on all types of fabric, including leathers. There are hundreds of thousands of fabrics and tens of thousands of prints. If you are a clothing designer, getting the most out of the show means planning time wisely. There are hundreds of exhibitors, (dominated by Italians), each with 8,15, 20 or more tables inside their booths, which for many, remain full by appointment only.

a vantage point of a sliver of one hall

a vantage point of a sliver of one hall

The tens of thousands of fashion designers from all over the world who attend PV walk the show taking copious notes, evidence that this is a serious show.  Each of the six major exhibition halls has a nucleus area displaying groups of fabrics neatly arranged by dozens of themes — describing them with phrases like; inner dazzle, rigorously drawn, refined flexibility, rustic minimalism, extreme thrills, playful interweaving, noble undulations, silky performance,…and the list could fill a few pages.  The locution describing fashion stories is more intricately subtle than hearing sommeliers describing complex fine wines.  Since this is not a fashion blog, I’ll not go there.

In Le Forum area the PV board exhibits what they’ve determined is the color direction for the next year, with 23 softly oscillating banners each one of the colors.  A small sampling can be purchased for a cool 150 Euros.  Photos are strictly prohibited.  In fact, throughout the show there is an army focused on camera security, demanding anyone caught catching a snap to immediately delete the image.

the 23 colors for 1617

the 23 colors for 1617

Inside the color area, surrounded by displays of multifaceted fabrics, are a couple of digital presentations on large screens, with a substantial sitting and viewing area, usually full, showing conceptual applications of color into fabric texture and design, giving attendees the chance to fully-absorb the essence and feeling for 16/17 Autumn/ Winter.

PV encapsulates the season’s idea with the following paragraph:

Autumn winter 1617 gives voice to creative forces.  It carries a strong-minded aesthetic message, and brings multiple cultures and genres face to face.  The season leaves nostalgia behind, without fantasizing over a too-distant future.  It draws on the present to create beauty, offer something new, go beyond the expected.  Reality isn’t enough?  Let’s transform it to make it more extraordinary, plug it into our imaginations, have a laugh with it, augment it to sketch out future fashions.  Let’s give it a ‘material’ dimension, to wear it right on our bodies.”

To make this more digestible and to add perspective, they outline three major fashion stories and 10 minor themes as follows:

  • Visionary
    • flawed beauty
    • cross-cultural connections
    • digital poetry
  • Sensitive
    • a furtive gleam
    • an unfolding suppleness
    • a puzzling blur
    • a natural fantasy
  • Strong Minded
    • a vaunted solidity
    • a foolproof technology
    • a decorative message

The stories are described in significantly more detail in the show brochures.

three fashion stories for next year

three fashion stories for next year

Bottom line, if you are involved in apparel fashion direction on any scale, this three-day event is a place for a valuable head start.  At the same time, you can also sink into inspiration overload if you are not careful.  It helps to go with your sensory receptors open yet with a focused efficiency.  And, to understand that this first view is not the only view.

Although I’m not a designer by trade, I constantly endeavor to satisfy those with whom I work, so the trip was a good re-insight to arguably the most important global show of its kind.

In all, several welcome work days out of the routine.  And, the pressure, and all the accompanying excitement for the 16/17 autumn/winter season has just started.

what made the trip even tastier was using the Paris bike share program, enabling me to ride with my carryon to the train, which I then took to the airport

what made the trip even tastier (than French food) was using the Paris bike share program, enabling me to ride with my carryon to the train, which I then took to the airport