Coperni’s Host of Robots Are Conceptually Riveting, Yet Ultimately Show-Stealing

For their Fall 2023 Ready-to-Wear Collection, Creative Directors Sébastien Meyers and Arnaud Vaillan have introduced a robot army in their tellying of the 17th century fable, The Wolf and The Lamb

At Coperni, a continuation of exploring the relationship between fashion and technology was done through a contemporary retelling of the 17th-century Jean de la Fontaine fable, The Wolf and The Lamb. Here, Spot Robots, courtesy of Boston Dynamics, play the role of the wolf as they roam the runway as the show unfolds around them, while we the people are left as the lambs. These robots are more than intriguing to watch, eerie in the way they prowl around the show space and dystopian in their presence. This clever rendition of a classic fable speaks to the human relationship with technology; exploring the tension over who reigns supreme, us or the almighty computer?

In the first half of the collection, the clothing was centered around fable-esque fashions, with Creative Directors Sébastien Meyers and Arnaud Vaillant looking to Little Red Riding Hood as inspiration. Toile prints tell the story of The Wolf and The Lamb through an adaptation of Gustave Doré’s original illustration of the fable, as cheeky metal pinched hand brooches pucker dresses along the body. Recycled leather has been used to create tattered skirts that look like they’ve been put through the wringer — or rather, attacked by wolves. As the first half came to a close, a host of models were swathed in blankets wrapped around the body, seen in faux fur, wool, and shirting

As model Rianne von Rompaey came down the runway in a wrapped black blanket, she met one of the robots, which proceeded to clutch the front of the blanket before snatching it off of her, leaving her in a quite simple black spandex mini dress. Soon after the robot tore the outerwear off of her, it released its grasp, allowing Rompaey to take her coat back from the machine before continuing down the runway. 

Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images

What followed was a more technological-centered roundup in opposition to the previously fable-inspired ensembles. Nylon technical jackets and draped spandex speak to a semi-futuristic feminine-centered gorp-core, while other looks are more ornamental, such as tops and dresses constructed out of silver feathers as a hybrid between natural elements and futurism. What may have been the most exciting form of modernism presented was in the brand’s newest rendition of the Swipe Bag, which has been 3D printed in order to resemble a meteorite. 

The stakes at Coperni this season were at an all-time high, as their last runway presentation in September left us with arguably the biggest fashion moment of the year á la Bella Hadid sprayed down in a gauzy Fabrican concoction. Due to a masterfully ideated technological feat as well as Hadid’s undeniable likeness, the performance was broadcast to every corner of the internet as a good ol’ fashioned viral fashion moment. While the runway moment begged questions on who becomes the maker in modern fashion or what technology offers to the future of fashion, the rest of the collection was relatively lacking in its upholding of the performance. Here, we run into a similar issue.

Releasing the family of robots into the show space through the context of The Wolf and The Lamb is an intriguing framework for a show that will take on the tension between humans and technology, yet there was a disconnect between this concept and the clothing itself. There has definitely been an improvement in the infusion of concept into the presentation; after many argued that Hadid’s performance last season felt out of place, the robots here had a very specific purpose in storytelling, which was undoubtedly exciting to watch unfold on the runway. In a season that has largely been defined by a sense of anti-virality, Coperni is swimming upstream with their newfound dedication to performance on the runway, a task that they have already seemed to have mastered. The uphill battle that remains is finding a way to create a collection of clothing that lives up to the hype which surrounds it.

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