You need to have solid shoulders to take over the creative reins of an established house, with a rich history and a heritage still fresh in people’s minds. This is the mission to which two young designers have attached themselves, for this season of Parisian collections fall-winter 2023-2024, which runs until March 7.
Harris Reed’s shoulders may still be a little frail. At only 26 years old, the young Anglo-American was appointed artistic director of the Nina Ricci house in September 2022, thus succeeding the duo Lisi Herrebrugh and Rushemy Botter, who had worked there since 2018. A graduate of the Central Saint Martins school in London, he launched the label that bears his name in 2020, signing pieces with assumed extravagance for celebrities, such as Harry Styles for the American edition of vogue in December 2020, or Iman Bowie at the 2021 MET gala, who appeared in a bombastic dress of gold, hoops and feathers.
An almost carnivalesque look that he transposed onto the catwalk for his first collection at Nina Ricci. Designed to mark the retina, his creations alternate polka dot micro-dresses worn over transparent jumpsuits, blue or green monochrome suits fashioned in fragmented lace and with flared legs, corolla maxi-skirts associated with extra-large round hats or even pleated tulle dresses draped next to the skin and in several layers.
Everything is available in flashy colors and worn by both boys and girls, of all body types – inclusiveness being a theme dear to the designer. “ This collection is for everyone. I want to celebrate individuality regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation », details Harris Reed. This collection, certainly inclusive, but also wobbly, seems above all cut out for the red carpets and the daring ones who will rub shoulders with them.
Knit dresses hugging the body as closely as possible
Individuality is also at the heart of the idea of Ludovic de Saint Sernin, who presented his first collection for the Belgian label Ann Demeulemeester. Appointed to this position in December 2022, the 31-year-old Parisian, who graduated from the Duperré school, had little time to immerse himself in the particular universe of the brand, which had its peak in the 1990s and 2000s. Created in 1986 by Ann Demeulemeester, one of the six from Antwerp – in reference to this group of Belgian designers, all graduates of the Royal Academy of Antwerp, who imposed a dark and radical look in the fashion of the 1990s – , the brand was led by the French designer Sébastien Meunier since the departure of its founder in 2013, until 2020. It was bought by the Italian Claudio Antonioli the same year.
A little dormant since, the label still enjoys a cult aura among insiders. For Ludovic de Saint Sernin, at the head of his own label (in his own name) since 2017 and whose sexy, unisex and provocative creations delight Generation Z, the challenge is daunting. “I started by immersing myself in the archives. I myself have tried almost ninety silhouettes, I wanted to live in them to understand the Ann Demeulemeester silhouette »explains Saint Sernin.
He extracted a short collection from it – thirty-six passages – with the poetic sensuality found in the long and flowing skirts, the jumpsuits and the draped and transparent dresses or the knit dresses hugging the body as closely as possible. There are also black suits with exposed white shirt sleeves, fitted leather coats, as well as large black boots rising on the legs. An androgynous aesthetic that the designer envisioned as a love letter for the brand’s founder. A promising first draft.