Put 70-year-old Grace Jones in a metallic leather jacket and gold mesh bodysuit on your runway and you’ve got yourself a hit. Tommy Hilfiger brought the pop star out at the end of his latest celebrity collaboration last night — with the actress and singer Zendaya — which toasted diversity, in race as well as age and size, with a cast that included Beverly Johnson, Pat Cleveland, and Veronica Webb.
For Zendaya, the Hilfiger platform — in the middle of Paris Fashion Week — was a great way to call attention to the general lack of diversity in the entertainment and fashion industries, not just on the catwalk but in power positions. And let’s hope that Hilfiger, 67, who has built his name and fortune by selling images of white privilege — with recent collections evoking the Ivy League, Mustique, and Savile Row — makes true diversity his business, because he hasn’t always in the past.
Even without such overt messaging, though, designers are making powerful statements about feminine strength and self-representation.
At Hermès, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski opened with black leather, lots of it — hot pants, sharp coats, and little fanny purses emblazoned with an H. Given that the soundtrack had a hard, thumping beat, I wouldn’t have been surprised if one of the kohl-eyed models had suddenly produced a whip from her tiny purse. And I don’t mean the equestrian kind. Seriously, though, it was great to see Vanhee-Cybulski venture into more daring territory for classical Hèrmes. Designers should be free to explore and propose, and she has already demonstrated that she can do light, eclectic sportswear, as she did in her dazzling spring show. Apart from the hot pants, the mood of this collection was strict and rather buttoned-up, with pencil skirts in textured leather shown with matching boots and long-sleeve, mock-turtleneck tops in solid hues of orange and moss silk that were a novel treatment of the house’s famous scarves.