Preshow, the Paul & Joe
space was dimmed to the point that ushers came equipped with handheld LED lanterns, and the air hung with a woodsy scent. Sophie Albou-Mechaly had been thinking about the legendary seventeenth-century fairy-tale author Charles Perrault and his lesser-known fable, Peau d'Âne
(The Magic Donkey). Jewel-emitting donkey skin was not an option; but then Albou-Mechaly has always applied heavy creative license to her references. Here, winterized wool shorts, slouchy roll-neck sweaters, and smart cabans were the antithesis of princess attire. And in fact, the borrowed boy pieces—generously proportioned trousers and dressy bombers—far outnumbered the obviously girly ones, such as a gathered floral-camo dress. But there's no need to reduce the narrative along these lines when the designer's use of windowpane-checked mohair was simultaneously both and neither.
Albou-Mechaly unified the collection with a modernist motif à la Serge Poliakoff (like Guy Laroche's Marcel Marongiu, she was inspired by the recent retrospective at the Musée d'Art Moderne) and isolated the painter's crisp coral and calming blue hues for her shearling coats and knit underlayers. The artisanal coolness that she may have been seeking was best captured by the reversible shearling Perfecto paired with guipure lace knee-length shorts. Interestingly, the look revealed no reference in particular. It was a quasi-existential moment for Paul & Joe—one that deserves to be explored further.