Paris - They are barely 20 years old, they believe in sustainable and accessible fashion and dream of breaking the 'vicious' circle of overproduction: the master students 2023 of the French Fashion Institute (IFM) kicked off Paris Fashion Week on Monday.
Twenty-five of them are celebrating their transition to professional life with a fashion show, the highlight of the first day of the women's ready-to-wear week which traditionally puts young designers in the spotlight.
"This is my first fashion show, there is a lot of stress involved, but it’s good stress, it took a lot of work and I'm proud of it," Wilfred Eliazord told AFP last week, as he put the finishing touches to his collection in the workshops at IFM with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Seine.
Born on the island of Martinique, he grew up in the 'working class neighbourhoods' of Paris among a mix of cultures - Afro, Caribbean, American, Asian - which he says he has made his own 'unconsciously and naturally' and which he celebrates in his collection.
The American hip hop-inspired wide-leg trousers are made from 'slightly more luxurious materials' such as satin and the protruding velvet boxer shorts. The accessories marry the beach and the street, with shells and heavy chains. He recalls that he couldn't find clothes to his taste as a teenager and wants to "bring everyone into the fashion world", which he sees as still "elitist".
It's a challenge to make affordable fashion for those who "can't spend 700 euros on a pair of trousers", but "it's possible to make clothes that are out of the ordinary with two times nothing", with upcycling, or reusing old clothing materials, and customisation, he assures, showing a top made with an old piece of curtain. "Eco-responsibility is not so much a topic as it was five years ago. It's natural for this generation, they've all looked for fabric scraps at the French Art Reserve, an organisation that strives to promote the arts in France in an ecofriendly way, promoting reuse of artworks, or asked textile manufacturers," Leyla Neri, who runs the IFM's Master of Fashion Design, told AFP.
’Married to myself’
Frenchwoman Shanon Poupard, who grew up in Chile before returning to Paris five years ago for her studies, wants to join a big fashion house "to be part of the change" rather than create her own brand. "I don't want to get into this vicious fashion circle that we're all afraid of," she told AFP. Her graduate collection features feminine knitwear designs with a mix of flowers, bombs, broken hearts and nuclear mushrooms. The young designer said she was inspired by how "we react to trauma".
A collection of wedding dresses by South Korean Pyo Hong wrapped up the IFM show, celebrating a woman who... unites with herself. "I grew up watching Disney princesses, women who are obsessed with marriage, with having a man. Being committed to yourself is just as important," the young designer said. Those types of marriages are celebrated in South Korea, India and Spain, she added. It is a reaction, she said, to what is missing in society, a society that "grants maternity leave" and takes care of family-related matters, but not the well-being of the woman herself.
"In 2023, we need to shift the focus back to ourselves. I wanted to get this feminist message across in the most feminine way possible," she says. Her ‘pie-in-the-sky’ and sleeker dresses are made from silicone and nylon used in athletic equipment.(AFP)View some more of the students’ looks below.
This article was originally published on FashionUnited.FR and FashionUnited.ES. Translation and editing into English by Veerle Versteeg.