Haute couture week in Paris is an intimidating time for any company to debut an experimental fashion concept—because, well, it’s the exact same time everyone else is sharing theirs too: La Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode is comprised of 32 members whose high-profile July shows push the boundaries of clothing as an art form. Joining them is to run into inevitable competition and comparison. But when Nike decided they wanted their own off-calendar fashion show in the City of Light during the same window of time as Valentino, they stuck by their famous motto: just do it.
On Wednesday, the Oregon-based company debuted “Goddess Awakened” at the Accor Arena. The 40-minute event, an electrically charged display of fashion-forward women’s athletic wear, included over 30 athletes performing intricate choreography by Parris Goebel. Dancers in belted performance vests and dry-fit leggings twirled around treadmills to Skrillex. In a more modern movement set, they wore coordinating green-and-gray fitness tops and tights from Nike’s collaboration with London-based menswear designer Feng Chen Wang. A spotlight later shone on a model donning a Nike x Ambush jacket by Yoon Ahn, composed of sewn together soccer scarves which will be released ahead of the Women’s World Cup in Australia. (“My collection reflects the unity of womanhood through a collaged scarf jacket, the women embracing their femininity, and the masculinity side that plays in harmony in their womanhood through the story of soccer,” Ahn said in a statement.)
At one point, a dancer shimmied to music in a gender-neutral tailored performance suit by Martine Rose, meant for those athletes disembarking planes or arriving on pitch. Dozens of dancers also wore Nike x Jacquemus J Force Ones. “We wanted to show the art of athleticism through creativity and clothing,” Liz Weldon, vice president of global women’s brand management for Nike, said. “Instead of doing that through a normal fashion show, we asked Parris to collaborate on a performance.” Goebel, a hip-hop choreographer who has worked with Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, and Justin Bieber, was both a critically acclaimed and forward-thinking choice: in 2024, break dancing will debut as an official sport during the Paris Olympic games. Indeed, India Sardjoe, the first breaker to qualify, did a routine in a yellow tracksuit. “It’s a beautiful sport. I think dance and style go hand in hand,” said Weldon.
Weldon mentioned that “Goddess Awakened” aimed to celebrate the concepts of style and self-expression. It was also meant to showcase the community of women in sports. (At one point, a video of Team USA Paralympian Scout Bassett, who was adopted from China at age 7, played to the crowd: “Sports was a space that didn’t require me to speak the same language,” she said.) While it remains to be seen if fishnet leggings—even sweat resistant ones—will move beyond the Accor Arena stage, perhaps it’s important to keep pushing the boundaries of women’s athletic apparel into new realms. That way, everyone can find something to wear.
CreditLead Image: @nike via Instagram