When André Courrèges launched his futuristic, namesake collection in 1961, synthetic materials were all the rage. Architects, furniture makers, and fashion designers alike declared plastic the optimal material for the Space Age. Its malleability and accessibility went hand in hand with the decade's democratic movements from the collapse of the class system to the sexual revolution. Naturally Courrèges made elastane, PVC, and most notably vinyl the tent poles of his label.
Courrèges Spring 2019
Fifty-seven years late, the Earth is drowning in plastic. It's a problem that the house's new creative director Yolanda Zobel can't ignore. To coincide with the launch of her inaugural collection for the brand, which debuted yesterday in Paris, the label has ceased production of new plastic and opened a pop-up adjacent to its Avenue François 1er flagship. Conceptualized by artist Christophe Hamaide-Pierson of the design firm Assume Vivid Astro Focus, the space will carry a capsule titled "La Fin Du Plastique," English for "the end of plastic." Each nylon piece in the collection will be made from the house's remaining 6,000 meters of vinyl and numbered to denote its place in the series.
Abandoning plastic is a bold move considering that the fashion industry continues to cling to PVC, acetate, and acrylic products. (Clear, plastic accessories and outerwear, a leading trend for spring 2018, have emerged again in the spring 2019 collections, while countless brands have switched from real fur to faux which is by-and-large a polyester product).
While it's a big statement (backed by action) to go against the grain, it remains to be seen how a brand so intimately connected to plastic will operate without it. Until that moment comes, Courrèges and Zobel are focused on developing a sustainable alternative to replace its heritage textile.