The Kooples takes a trip back to the indie era

The French fashion house rocked up to Paris Fashion Week with a debut presentation from Pierre Kaczmarek showing off military-inspired insignia, throwback tights and a bag in collaboration with Amelia Gray.

In 1994, the first Eurostar train left London for Paris, taking a few thousand passengers from one fashion capital to another. It marked a golden age of travel, allowing continental commuters and culture-hungry cool kids alike the chance to whizz to the city of chic or the epicentre of Cool Britannia in just over a couple of hours.

The best bit? You could bring as many clothes as you could carry.

Thirty years on, The Kooples is cashing in its return ticket and heading back to the Eurostar’s headiest days for its AW24 collection. Inspired by a young couple walking down the street towards St. Pancras for a trip to Paris, it revives the lively spirit of the indie era, rebooting the brand’s original carefree essence for the occasion.

It marks the debut offering from artistic director Pierre Kaczmarek since his appointment by The Kooples last year. Still just 25 years old, the designer founded his first label Afterhomework in 2016 while he was still at school. Then, in 2021, Kaczmarek breathed new youth into Georges Wendell, a little-known and pretty much dormant brand.

If you needed any more proof of his prodigy, he was the youngest ever designer to show at Paris Fashion Week. And it was back there, yesterday, that he showcased the new The Kooples collection, announcing his grand arrival in style.

Taking place at a typically ornate building in Plaine-Monceau, the presentation saw the city’s most modish residents assemble in front of a series of plinths. Models, walking down the vertiginous spiral staircase in pairs, took their place on the podiums to pose in the new collection.

But what of the clothes? Well, it signalled a return to the early, heady days of The Kooples. Cropped leather jackets and full length military coats were adorned with regal insignia, tights designed in collaboration with British-Italian brand TYT were suitably sleaze and tartan pieces designed with Harris Tweed were straight out of Camden.

Star-studded shirts (and capes!) and buccaneering hats emblazoned with flowers were enough to make you feel like you were in the green room of some sleazy indie venue circa 2005 — in the best possible way. Plus, a new accessory arrived in the form of the Hit Bag, co-created with mega model Amelia Gray – ideal for those gallivants to London and dalliances in Paris. Backstage, the hedonism continued, with models and crew locking lips the French way for an Instagram takeover shot by Lyas.

Spunky and punky, the presentation was full of the roguish (and now very much in vogue) energy of the original indie era. Retro, yes, but reimagined by the house’s plucky artistic director. By the end, we wished we could stuff the entire collection into a load of suitcases and take them back to London. Which, come to think of it, the collection’s inspiration and esteemed transport service allows. Merci, The Kooples and Eurostar!

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