The best of the buzziest collections from Clare Waight Keller’s debut at Givenchy to Demna Gvasalia’s platform crocs and Bugle Boy-inspired denim at Balenciaga, here are the highlights from Paris Fashion Week.
While one does miss the incredible opulence of Valentino’s Renaissance gowns, Pierpaolo Piccioli is clearly aware that while the modern woman still loves to dream and get dressed up that even the most elite women must have practical high-design in their wardrobes too. The Apollo moon landing served up some seriously cool moto-style plastic jackets adorned in sequins. Sportswear was a major theme with Piccioli reworking the anorak in multiple versions, pairing them with shorts, miniskirts, and heels. Even a pair of pants that looked like they might zip off at the knee to become shorts looked like the kind of thing that would normally be Patagonia territory. However, you won’t find these pricey pieces climbing any mountain ranges unless it’s by helicopter, darlings. There was even an ultra-chic Safari trench for the Sahara inclined. But this headlong dive into sportiness did not forsake the Valentino gown or cocktail number. There was a luscious Valentino red velvet evening gown and a silk eggplant number both resplendent in their simplicity, a sexy little blush bubbled cocktail dress, and an immaculate, one-shouldered pale pink ruffled gown à la ’80s Valentino that closed the show. Everything, sporty or otherwise, was thoroughly rich. And to further drive home versatility, Piccioli paired bags with straps around the shoulders and waist (arms free!) with evening gowns—for Safaris and galas alike!
Phoebe Philo has a grand talent for packing in a lot of look into a seemingly effortless ensemble. Her woman gets plenty of design for pieces that won’t fade by next season. For Spring, it was an innovative meditation on tailoring and outerwear. Trenches came double layered in what looked like two coats, but were actually one piece sewn together and looped. In a season when you thought the trench couldn’t be rethought anymore, Philo has succeeded in whipping up one of the most thoughtful versions yet. Suits were also topped off with trenches, some of which connected only on one shoulder and just a portion of the hems. Other suit jackets melded into pleated skirts or came as oversized men’s versions cut off as vests. But for the Céline clientele that errs a bit more conservative there was a beautiful classic ivory version in leather worn on Anna Ewers. And a cut-out white bubble dress with lace details on Vittoria Ceretti will satisfy a more feminine mood. The whole collection highlighted high-impact, but understated fashion with ease. Take a sequined evening gown with an easy silhouette and rolled-up sleeves paired with khaki boots and a trench or an ultra luxe Kaftan-style pink suede dress that looked as easy to throw on as a robe. And Philo was certainly thinking of life as a woman in 2018 when she paired white and platform sneakers with lavender soles with a knit dress or a pair of leggings that looked every bit as sophisticated as the rest.
What tricks did Demna Gvasalia have up his sleeves this season? What trend previously thought of as terribly passé did he reinvent? Bugle boy jeans, first of all. A trend—like Juicy Couture tracksuits—we thought would never be revisited. But everything that up until recently has been thought of as gauche is fair game in Gvasalia’s hands. Expect this jarring denim revival to be revived many times over as quickly as the copy cats can reproduce. And then, Gvasalia one-upped Christopher Kane’s croc revival by introducing the platform croc for those that dare. For those that don’t, the spiky stilettos will woo and wow. Raincoats for handbags—the kind of thing you can pick up at The Container Store—were given a high-fashion update. There was a reworking of the punk pant marrying various plaids with houndstooth and pinstripe suiting. The biggest takeaway however was another reworking of the jacket. Here they hung from the necks of the models to be worn as vests and came layered like a melding between a parka and a denim vest. Dresses were worn rolled down to reveal lingerie beneath. This layered dressing was about undressing, but also about versatility in that many of these could be transformed to be a vest or a coat—a trick and a treat. It had everything that die-hard Gvasalia fans will be rushing to be the first to wear.
Claire Waight Keller finally made her much-anticipated debut chez Givenchy. After her critically acclaimed collections for Chloé, Keller took over the Givenchy throne from Riccardo Tisci, who left the house after 12 years at the helm. Tisci had made Givenchy one of the hottest labels in Paris, so even for a designer like Keller, stepping into Tisci’s shoes would be no easy task. Immediately, the strong shoulder came into focuss, and why not? She has a lot of weight on them and it’s a serious power move both for her and her clientele. Then she dived into the Givenchy archival prints including a clover and an animal motif. The colors were mostly dark hues in black and deep reds but infused with pops of white and a touch of mint. The standout piece was the burnt red leather coat. It had some of the verve that had come to be expected by her predecessor, but didn’t quite pack the same punch. But Keller is a talented designer and finding her own footing in a new aesthetic after six years amidst the femininity and soft boho vibe at Chloé, while developing her own new voice at a new house will take some time.
Joseph Altuzarra returned to his native Paris to show a collection inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, a 1997 Japanese anime film on nature versus industry. The theme is apropos of the times. Climate change has been one of the most debated topics in the last decade and the fashion industry is notoriously guilty of harming the environment. On top of those themes, there’s industry expectations on a designer versus resources and time. “At its core, this collection is about loss of innocence, growing up, and embracing fearlessness,” said Altuzarra in his show notes. He also cited pagan rituals documented by Charles Freger in his “Wilder Man” series. What ensued was an exploration on home knitting and sewing, handmade details, and the imperfect and undone. Similar themes were touched upon in Sarah Burton’s Pagan-inspired collection for Alexander McQueen’s Fall/Winter 2017 collection. There was patchwork on fur accented vests, kerchief style dresses, doily style netting on clingy sheer dresses and skirts, and beaded bodices said to be inspired by table runners at his grandmother’s French countryside home, according to VogueRunway. And while homemade, country, and grandma don’t normally sound like a mix of words that create a very sexy recipe, in Altuzarra’s hands it was sizzling.
Another designer focusing on craft and folk art this season was Jonathan Anderson for Loewe. Slim body clingers came laid with patchwork quilting—traditionally in a multitude of fabrics and also in various shade of gingham. Prairie patterns came as a peplum tops paired with slit pencil skirts. Models wearing pieces like a dress that looked as though it had been cut from a table cloth or rug (fringe and all) came with a bag slung behind the shoulder like a boho hobo. T-shirts and sweatshirts with Loewe insignia came with fringed fabric and a wrap waisted blue blazer with gingham detailing paired with wide leg cropped grey pants and a sunhat were reminiscent of a modern day Huckleberry Finn. It was cross-continental cool country chic.
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