Altuzarra Spring/Summer 2019 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Fashion critic

PARIS — One designer used faded denim and white tulle. Another preferred gingham jersey in delicious shades of raspberry and lemon. The former would serenade his beloved with an extended rock guitar riff. The later chooses the sweet strains of violins. Both of them were exploring the notion of romance.

For their spring 2019 collections two designers could not have a more different approach to fashion. Junya Watanabe has an affection for the punk flourish. He experiments with fabrics and shapes that can be, at times, off-putting. His affections are high-maintenance. Joseph Altuzarra has an eye for the strikingly pretty detail and color. He works with familiar shapes but tweaks them to his own end. His work tugs at the heart.

[Robin Givhan at Paris Fashion Week: full coverage]

Both of them showed their collections here on Saturday. And together they offered a reminder that love and joy can take many forms. Everyone’s bliss looks a little different.


Junya Watanabe Spring/Summer 2019 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Junya Watanabe Spring/Summer 2019 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Junya Watanabe Spring/Summer 2019 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Watanabe used treated denim combined with tulle to create dresses, skirts and coats that were a blend of hippie, punk and fairytale princess. It was an audacious display of technique and ingenuity. Watanabe’s work is both deconstructed and highly constructed. Nothing is quite what it at first appears to be.


Junya Watanabe Spring/Summer 2019 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Junya Watanabe Spring/Summer 2019 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Junya Watanabe Spring/Summer 2019 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Junya Watanabe Spring/Summer 2019 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Sometimes his denim dresses were draped over tops with tattoo-inspired prints. In other instances, a model in an enormous tulle skirt turned to reveal that what she was wearing was really only a half-skirt over a pair of cropped jeans. Watanabe played with our assumptions about the kinds of clothes that can tell the story of fantasies and delights — the kinds of clothes that document special moments, the kinds of clothes that, in fact, make certain moments exceptional. Yes, they are often extravagant, impractical frocks. But sometimes they are also the most mundane, comforting items in our wardrobe.

For Altuzarra, romance was defined in more classical terms. He considered the summers that he spent in Italy when he was a child. He thought of long days on a beach, of lazying in the sun. His version of romance draws from cinema. He was inspired by “Cinema Paradiso,” “Stealing Beauty,” and “Call Me By Your Name.”


Altuzarra Spring/Summer 2019 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Altuzarra Spring/Summer 2019 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Altuzarra Spring/Summer 2019 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Altuzarra Spring/Summer 2019 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

His collection was filled with the kinds of bold colors that look best in the clear sunlight of summer. His prints were a bit blurred, as if their lines had been faded by water and sun. He shrank classic silhouettes and twisted others. He injected a bit of imperfection into his romance.


Altuzarra Spring/Summer 2019 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Altuzarra Spring/Summer 2019 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

There is an entire world of love and pleasure between these two extremes. Between electric guitars and classical strings, between denim and silk organza. Watanabe and Altuzarra made that beautifully clear.

ALSO AT PARIS FASHION WEEK:

A provocative designer has just blown up a 70-year-old brand. But to what end?

What we talk about when we talk about ‘effortless chic’

These glittery, chainmailed, mismatched clothes are difficult — but so worth it

Apocalyptic looks for your 2018 mood, from Rick Owens

Gender-blurring made as awkward as possible at Maison Margiela — but why?

What exactly is Saint Laurent saying about female sexuality and empowerment here?

Marine Serre is a name you’ll want to remember

‘Outside there is a war,’ so Dior and Gucci offer the fashion equivalent of self-care