It’s rare to encounter a young designer who has both a sure hand for her craft and a wicked sense of humor. At just 27, the Belgian newcomer Marie Adam-Leenaerdt is one of those unicorns. Adam-Leenaerdt put on her first off-calendar show in Paris last season in what she called a “soulless” conference room, with a stack of office chairs on the verge tipping over at the back of the runway. What grabbed people’s attention was distinctively off-kilter tailoring and ludicrously capacious bags that seemed to suggest even that the most together of us are one loose thread away from losing it.
With an opening spot on the official Paris Fashion Week schedule, she turned her gaze to holiday clothes. She had cardboard tanning reflectors made that read “Attention. L’Exposition au soleil présente des risqués” and placed them of each seat. The idea, she said backstage, a bit overwhelmed by the small pack of journalists that crowded in, was to “push the idea of a summer collection to the extreme.”
She showed a dress in the style of Balenciaga (where she previously worked) in a pool ripple blue, a long evening dress made from a black terry robe with a bright pink towel for a belt, and even a beach cabana built for one, suspended from a lightweight rod circling its model’s shoulders. The deconstructed swimsuits she paired with asymmetric skirts and exceedingly well-cut pants have serious commercial potential. And then there was her tailoring, as sharp and special as last season, with lapels that lean in to kiss rather than lay flat on the chest and exaggerated shoulders. An oversize jean jacket was designed without a collar and built up around the shoulders, creating the illusion of an elegantly long neck. Definitely one to watch.