This year was my 8th season of attending Paris Fashion Week and the number one question I get when I return home is always, “Which show did you enjoy the most?”
When you’re watching 45+ shows on a 10-day circuit and taking 8,000+ photos (yes, you read that right), it’s a lot to sift through and provide a definitive answer right at that moment.
I’ll say this though - it’s not about the shows and the spectacle as it is more about the clothes for me. When you’ve gone to Paris Fashion Week so many times, it’s no longer about the doe-eyed amazing experience of just being there. That loses its lustre pretty quickly, say after Year 1 or Year 2. You’re scurrying from one end of the city to the next, waiting sometimes an hour for the show to start because they’re so behind and then it’s over in 7 minutes. Then you’re up and racing off to the next one. It’s a slog, especially when you’re not sponsored by a limo company that is waiting to take you to the next event. It’s 10 solid days of back-to-back shows, meetings, fittings, photo shoots, and maybe you’ll be able to fit in coffee. You can forget about eating. Nor spending time with your friends who live in Paris (note to them: I’ll be back, off season, I promise! Bisous xx).
The net is, you go because you really love the fashion and appreciate the designers and the process. Not because you want to have a good time. If your purpose is the latter, go off season. It’s cheaper and restaurants don’t get booked up so quickly as they do during Fashion Week. It can be a shit show.
When I’m there at the shows, I am focused solely on the collection - in particular for designers who I’ve been following for years to see how they’ve evolved. I especially love the labels that are more obscure. That’s where you’ll find the gems and up-and-comers before they get splashed all over WWD and worse, mainstream media and then prices for their pieces get jacked up.
To that end, one of my favourite collections from FW19 is Nehera. It’s a fairly obscure label that even the most connected fashion insiders may not be familiar with. It’s not a new label; in fact, far from it. Czechoslovakian businessman Jan Nehera revolutionized ready-to-wear in the 1930s. Back then, the only way to get a pair of pants were if you either made them yourself or had someone make them for you. There weren’t shops where you could walk in and pick up a pair in your size and walk out - not like we do today.
Nehera established a vertically integrated clothing manufacturing-to-retail process that was eventually adopted by large design houses like Hermès and Chanel. Its clothes ended up selling in 130 retailers across three continents. But then World War II came and production halted for decades. In 2014, the brand was resurrected by new owner Ladislav Zdut and appointed Samuel Drira (from stints at Christophe Lemaire and Damir Doma) as the company’s first ever creative director. Nehera and Drira parted ways in 2017 and the label’s designs are now all done in house.
Nehera’s FW19 collection is what I would consider the gold standard. When every single look that walks onto the runway is something you are literally coveting and truly desire for your personal closet, that’s the ultimate testimonial. There are collections that absolutely blow your mind (Manish Arora is the first that comes to mind this season), you’ll always appreciate them but never own a single piece. Nehera’s offering for FW19 is centred on a quiet sophistication, almost cerebral in its approach to design. A perfect marriage of clean lines, sumptuous and voluminous knits and rich textures. Their pieces evoke an elegance and warmth, while design elements are pared back - with the focus grounded in utility and comfort. Take a look and let me know what you think.
All photos were taken by me. (Please do not use any photos without permission.)