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Calvin Luo returned to the Paris runways for the first time since September 2019. When the pandemic happened, Luo suddenly found himself “stuck in China.” He may not have been able to hold a fashion show, but that didn’t stop his business from growing; he’s opened three retail stores in China in the past six months and has plans for three more before the end of the year. It’s one of the reasons why Luo was thinking about balance. “When we started to develop the collection, I think it was very important to find a balance between my feelings and our global audience from Europe, the US, the UK, and Asia,” he explained on a call the day before his show. “And that immediately led me to Patti Smith.” He was inspired by the way she dressed but also who she is as an artist. In his show notes was a quote from the punk poet and artist: “In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.”

The fall collection presented menswear along with womenswear, and the silhouettes worked equally across genders. Luo’s search for balance manifested itself on the runway in the splicing and merging of pieces and silhouettes. A black cropped suit jacket worn with a white yoked skirt was actually all one piece, while another similar dress—made of a vest and a skirt—was styled underneath a denim skirt for some unexpected layering. Another strapless denim top styled from an upside-down pair of jeans worn with pieced leather cargo pants was more obviously a jumpsuit but nonetheless still interesting in its mix of fabrics. (The leather cargo pants, also shown in blue, were hand-distressed to softly emulate a favorite pair of jeans.) The most special of these collaged experiments was perhaps a traditional tailored suit jacket that had a black-and-white ribbed bandeau around it. “You just put it on over your head,” said Luo. Easy, like a T-shirt.

An off-the-shoulder, ruffled blouse style was the main character in the collection, made from leather or satin, sometimes studded, sometimes with an added long sleeve. The rounded, flower-inspired silhouette was often grounded by straight-leg trousers, some with a garter-belt overlay, others with a crisscross waistband with a leather-belt detail: The latter has become one of Luo’s signatures, and there were many buckle embellishments throughout. Elsewhere there were rosebud embellishments and floral details, including on an unexpectedly soft white strapless crochet dress, which provided a certain necessary softness in the collection. If the futuristic headbands as sunglasses seemed a little out of step, they can be forgiven. After all, the Paris runways are indeed the place to “proceed with abandon.”