Having studied at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, Barbara recently wrote her Master's thesis on the current state of fashion journalism. With her academic expertise, she (critically) assesses the runway and upcoming trends in the fashion hemisphere.

Leonard Paris Spring Summer 2019 Collection

Artistic director Christine Phung took her crowd to East-Africa this season in order to explore the notion of endless French elegance, nom de plume for the Leonard woman.

“Every collection is a bit like a journey”, Phung explained backstage. When wandering through the House’s archives, she became fascinated with this hand-painted landscape print that was never used before. “I found this print, and it became the source for the entire collection.” Phung’s exploration took her voyage to the Masaai tribes of Kenya and Tanzania.

 
Leonard Paris SS19


 

Accordingly, the collection kicked-off with a loose-fitted collared jumpsuit that served as the canvas for the same landscape pattern. Phung’s favourite piece, as she told us after the show. She wanted a relaxed look for the travelling woman who’s both serious and free, and wears colour gracefully. Plus, of course, to honour the Leonard trademarked orchid as well, an inescapable emblem that the designer is, in her words, ‘obliged’ to absorb in every collection.

Along these lines, the tailored but baggy (thus comfortable looking) safari-themed pieces came first: beige coloured jackets, pleated shorts and white shirts for the more pragmatic, yet chic adventurer. Followed by increasingly floaty silhouettes with knotted, wrapped and interlaced dresses, skirts and backless pantsuits in bright flowerly print. Elegant indeed.

The distinctive blue and red colours of the Masaai costume superseded the floral runway alongside the traditional flamboyant beaded earrings and necklaces, a series that has been produced by Phung in collaboration with Masaai artisans.

Always slightly culturally sensitive, such cultural appropriations, especially in a time where the smallest flicker of controversy can burst into a media frenzy, and certainly seen France’s problematic colonial past. Even more seemingly problematic for Phung, was to make room to celebrate House’s sixtieth anniversary (as one might tend to forget whilst watching the collection pass-by). And it showed: the show was abruptly closed by seven throwback silhouettes, prints and heritage shapes from Leonard’s past, which resulted in a bit disjointed journey.

Even though the pieces didn’t necessarily revise the notion of French elegance, Phung nevertheless has managed to make a safe Masaai interpretation of the Leonard woman to keep pleasing the House’s fans.

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FWO