Fashion tries to prove women can look good in bin bags

Belgian fashion designers Filip Arickx (right) and An Vandevorst for A.F. Vandevorst at the end of the 2017-2018 fall/winter Haute Couture collection in Paris on July 2, 2017.
Belgian fashion designers Filip Arickx (right) and An Vandevorst for A.F. Vandevorst at the end of the 2017-2018 fall/winter Haute Couture collection in Paris on July 2, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - Two top fashion designers set out Sunday (July 2) to prove the saying that a stylish woman can look good even in a bin bag.

Belgium husband and wife team Filip Arickx and An Vandevorst turned black plastic bin liners and dry cleaning sheaths into skirts and elaborate embroidered ball gowns in their debut Paris haute couture show.

Haute couture is the very pinnacle of the fashion world, with only an elite band of designers allowed to show their luxurious handmade creations in the French capital, some of which cost tens of thousands of euros.

The pair - collectively called A.F. Vandevorst - set out to challenge that aesthetic with a punkish cavalier show which also featured rubbish bag veils.

Rather than demure debutantes in puff balls of taffeta and silk, their models had the air of runaway nightclubbing nuns.

Others wore dashing hussar jackets and trousers matched with thigh-high boots and skin-tight PVC trousers.

An Vandevorst told AFP the show was an ode to the joy of dressing up with anything you can find.

"It's about total freedom and creativity, and a women who lives out of her suitcase... transforming old stuff into new," she added.

"She takes things that she finds like a bin bag and embroiders it. She is so creative that the material doesn't matter.

"She is so chic and so sophisticated she can turn anything with her natural flair - poof! - into something great."

A handbag is thus transformed into a hat, and whole line of wardrobe staples - leggings, jackets and tops - into head dresses and wimples.


In what can only be interpreted as a blow to New York fashion week, two high-end US labels also made a bow on the couture catwalk alongside A.F. Vandevorst as guest members.

Rodarte, a red-carpet favourite for Hollywood royalty like Natalie Portman and singer Katy Perry, said the label intends to hold all their couture shows in Paris from now on.

Set up by sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy at their mother's kitchen table in table in Los Angeles, Rodarte's debut Paris collection mixed a take on white, red and black leather biker gear with ethereal silk organza.

Gold and silver bows turned up on the waist of a string of pieces in the unapologetically pretty spring summer collection which was dominated by flower motifs and patterns.

Feather frond jackets and a trouser suit that almost seemed to be made of flower stamens were littered through the line-up.

New York-based Proenza Schouler also chose to show its spring/summer ready to wear 2018 collection rather than the autumn/winter range most other brands were presenting.

Lazaro Hernandez, one half of the design duo, said they had been talking about making the move to Paris for years.

While the Mulleavys insisted that the way fashion was treated as art in the French capital had attracted them, Hernandez said Paris "has always been the most inspiring city for us".

"We came over and we searched all these independent Parisian ateliers where they do feather work, hand weaving textiles, ribbons (and so on), and we employed all these amazing little studios and worked back and forth from New York to Paris."

"It was really a celebration of craft, we wanted to go back to some quite traditional techniques... an anti-cynical kind of collection, a celebration of beauty," his partner Jack McCollough told reporters.