By Katie Shuff
Cast against a backdrop that exudes revolution and anarchy, Paris Fashion Week stayed true to the city’s roots, offering up a dramatic mélange of shows that incorporated the drama and intensity of this revered city. It seemed as if an air of sorcery had descended over Paris as designers and fashion houses alike showcased darker, more sensual catwalk collections. At Dior for instance, Raf Simons cited savagery and masculinity as references for his latest runway offering – think chainmail-esque dresses and oversized mannish blazers in rough tweeds. At Givenchy and Alexander McQueen, Riccardo Tisci and Sarah Burton respectively, channelled Victorian theatricality with a sumptuous display of velvet and lace dresses with peek-a-boo lattice detailing. Contrastingly, but no less dramatic, Balmain and Saint Laurent vamped up the eighties drama with glamorous power dressing courtesy of Oliver Rousteing, and Debbie Harry inspired ensembles at Saint Laurent. Without further ado, Palatinate Fashion rounds up the best of PFW.
Balmain kicked proceedings off this season with its overtly glamorous offerings. Plush black velvet ensembles were off set with rich jewelled tones. A particular highlight included a bodycon mini dress with long velvet sleeves and burnished tangerine stripes – a look which was also featured with a matching striped cape. Boxy velvet jackets were cinched at the waist with oversized belts, as were high-waisted, knife-pleated chiffon trousers, perfect for creating that elongated silhouette. Criss-cross detailing in contrasting colours evoked an armour-like feel, giving true meaning to the term power dressing. More covered up than previous seasons, this collection was about leaving more to the imagination.
At Dior, Raf Simmons took a similar approach as models made their way down the runway in latex legging boots and printed body suits, leaving little skin on display. Oversized double breasted jackets were shown in various pastel hues, adding just a touch of femininity to a predominantly masculine look. Oversized coats were also in force at Dior, hinting at a more commercially orientated collection. Simmons was clearly playing with the concept of texture: tweed was juxtaposed with latex, whilst metal effect panelling contrasted with luxuriously soft fur coats.
There was no mistaking that fur was in full force this season, Saint Laurent showcased yet more leather print concoctions, this time in turquoise blue. At Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquiere sent models down the runway in abominable snowman-like creations, whilst at Valentino more rugged patchwork type coats were on display.
Street style aficionado, Alexander Wang, also demonstrated an enthusiasm for juxtaposed textures at Balenciaga. His elegant cuts demonstrated respect for the heritage of the revered French fashion house, yet his clever use of rougher, more ragged materials illustrated his ability to modernise the brand. Demure tweed dresses were toughened up with enamel tassels, and boucle coats were given a modern twist with leather belts acting as collars. A plunging silver dress, finished off with fur piping and fur-topped slippers gave a certain boudoir feel, adding a sense of glamour to the collection.
This more sensual boudoir reference was also present throughout Alber Elbaz’s latest collection for Lanvin, which acted as a celebration of his Moroccan roots. Billowing silk dresses and blouses added a touch of feminine drama to proceedings, whilst military style jackets, finished off with oversized tassels, kept the collection from feeling overly romantic. A blood-red coat, complete with fringe detailing, perfectly illustrated this fine balance.
Doing what she does best, Isabel Marant stayed true to her nonchalant bohemian style this season. Taking inspiration from the Wild West, cocoon shaped jackets were finished off with Indian print piping. Tiered translucent chiffon dresses in whites and blacks, perfect for any western saloon, exuded Marant’s signature effortless chic. Layered chiffon dresses also made an appearance at Alexander McQueen, but to a different effect. Inspired by the beauty and fragility of a rose on the verge of decay, Sarah Burton created pieces that were romantically sinister. Set in the Conciegerie – the grand prison where Marie Antoinette was kept before she was beheaded, and where Lee McQueen staged his first show in Paris – ruffled lace and velvet floor-length dresses looked poignantly ethereal. An almost translucent lace dress in blood red, complete with feather shoulder detailing, evoked a real sense of fragile beauty, while other dresses ruffled into the shapes of wilting rose petals showcased true technical flare.
At Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld took the concept of a runway show to the next level, turning the Grand Palais into its very own Brasserie Gabrielle, in which models sashayed down the runway to stop for a café au lait or two from the ever so chic bar. Lagerfeld continued to reinvent the house’s iconic tweed print. A classic houndstooth jacket was updated with leather quilting, whilst deep-red tweed coats and dresses looked more modern in drop-waist styles.
Saint Laurent’s collection was a stark contrast, with a runway more akin to a stage and models marching down the catwalk as if they were strutting their way across Wembley Arena. Although the overall effect exuded nothing but girl-in-a-band attitude, many critics were still left wondering how Hedi Slimane will move the house forward. As to be expected, mini leather skirts and cropped jackets were in abundance, teamed with eighties inspired prom dresses. Whilst the mini black velvet dresses accessorised with oversized bows exuded nonchalant attitude, attention must be paid when attempting to copy this collection, which has the potential to look a little more cheap than chic.
Left with the task of rounding off the A/W fashion week parade, Paris certainly did not disappoint. With an abundance of nonchalance and drama on display, Paris by far came out on top.