The S/S16 Fashion Week Edit: Paris Fashion Week

The complete opposite to Milan Fashion week where change and innovation seemed to be running themes, Paris Fashion Week saw designers stick to their classic aesthetics with only a few minor tweaks. It was gradual evolution rather than chaotic revolution in the French Capital. 

Fashions Finest – What the world’s famous had to offer

Like many other shows in this season, there was an air of nostalgia in the Chloé collection – with the 90s as the reference point. A period when Chloé enjoyed its golden years under Stella McCartney, and unsurprisingly it was dedicated to a tribute of girls: Kate, Chloë, Cecilia, Corinne, Rosemary, Emma and Courtney and co; quintessential 90s pinup girls. Slouchy trousers, ribbed vests, basic t-shirts, ragged edge denim pieces, track pants (zipped open at the ankle) all nodded towards the Gallagher Britpop epoch. whilst the chiffon gowns gave it a sense of innocence and ‘free spirit’. It was less Spike Island and more Coachella. Perfect for the contemporary buyer. Indeed, Olivier Rousteing has always been one to celebrate curves, and this was unequivocal in his show, with plenty of peekaboo cutouts and spandex strapping. However, despite this and the arsenal of celeb names walking the catwalk (Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Doutzen Kroes, Lily Aldridge et al.) the much less inspiring Balmain collection lacked a certain spark. Shoulders were boxy, tops were cropped and waists were nipped in-nothing fresh accompanying the uncomplimentary palette of tan, toffee and caramel. Sure, the show may have catered the Kardashian and Jenner clan as well as their millions of instagram following perfectly, it was a disappointing show from one the industry’s brightest sparks. Fashion’s enfant terrible and never-resting activist Vivienne Westwood once again used her collection to portray a message to those willing to listen. Inspired by the idea of saving Venice, the collection titled ‘Mirror the World’, incorporated Prefect-style blazers, long tailored jackets (which hung dramatically above the models heads) to reflect a strong Venetian theme, luxurious intricately embroidered gold garments paid homage to the city’s rich history and several floating jackets sent out a wider message concerning climate change.”If we have climate change, Venice will disappear along with anything from a line level with Paris” the English designer said.


L-R: Chloe, Balmain, “We are the last grown-ups who can actually save the future,” -Vivienne Westwood

The key to understanding Phoebe Philo, Céline’s Creative Director, is that she is her own woman, designing clothes that women actually want to wear. And it’s clear from her SS ’16 collection that this admirable USP still stands.  The collection was minimalistic and unfussy with a clean palette of black, white and khakhi, with a few ribbed dresses thrown in there. The plain white, linen-mixed dresses seemed to be Philo’s way of accommodating her lifestyle in the Somerset countryside. “I liked the idea of clothes that you could pack up and go somewhere with” said the designer backstage. Forever the pragmatist. The Stella McCartney show was all about ‘colours of summer, celebrating life – and celebrating women.’ Bold checks and primary stripes breathed pattern and colour into the show whilst long, slim and fluid silhouettes complemented the female figure. Preppy polo tops and a parade of maxi skirts gave a sporty edge to the collection– all of which were worn with a wooden clog or an open sandal – whilst raw indigo denim added another beautiful element to Stella’s collection. She exhibited denim midi-skirts (complete with side slits to give the impression of movement and fluidity yet again) and drop crotch wide-leg jeans. There were no clever gimmicks, instead it was simple, wearable and timeless. In a completely opposite manner to Lee McQueen’s days of theatrics and innovation, Sarah Burton favoured an unfussy setting for her Alexander McQueen show. Both the scrubbed wooden boards of the Lycée Carnot and the basic chairs for the audience created a raw and unpretentious setting that would give sole focus to the clothes. No masks, tortuous footwear or hints of animalism at all. Rather, the show looked almost like an antique picture book from the Brothers Grimm era. Models appeared make-up-less and strutted around in wooden wedges, with many donning hand crocheted, embroidered gowns and ruffled maxi shirts. Although there was an essence of wrecked beauty within the collection – heavy chains wrapped round black tailoring – there was also an air of lightness, with floral patterns on leather gowns and shoes.  The romanticism of the collection was – in typical McQueen fashion – anchored by an incredible amount of research by Ms. Burton in an ode to The Hugeunots who brought with them the skill set of weaving and lace making as well as a love of flowers and floral patterns in the 17th Century. It was 100% Sarah Burton in essence: a soft and modest piece of sartorial poetry.


L-R: Celine, Stella McCartney, ”It’s an ode to craftsmanship, to the Huguenots who came to Spitalfields with flower seeds in their pockets,”- Alexander McQueen

Chanel’s airport-themed show in the Grand Palais reinforced two things: the power of Chanel’s global image and the fact that it still rules the fashion world. Complete with flight attendants, baggage drop offs and an array of celebrity passengers (including Cara Delevingne), Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel Airlines was just the latest display of his impressive showmanship. Although Chanel collections of late have become more about the show the clothes held their own with the global theme, there was a kaleidoscope of textures and fabrics from around the world – tartans, tweeds, saris – whilst the ingenious accessories of safety belt buckles and aeroplane pins helped tie the whole story together. And with the Kaiser as the astute forward-thinker there was a definite space-age future theme in the collection with strokes of intergalactic silver here, there and everywhere. In short, Valentino’s show was distasteful and quite shocking. Although attempting to celebrate the ‘African culture’, what the collection actually did was provide a prime example of cultural appropriation. Reducing a historically and culturally rich continent to a few patterns and designs; Masai-style beadworks, batik-printed parkas and zulu mask embellishments with only a shocking eight of the 87 models on the runway black. Meaning that the majority of those representing ‘primitive’ and ‘tribal’ Africa were white models whose hair was styled in controversial cornrows.  An insensitive setback amidst a campaign for change. Raf Simons – like most of his shows of late – created a delicate, ‘free’ and ‘pure’ mood for his SS ’16 Christian Dior collection with a display of soft colours; cream, ivory, blues and pinks, and the use of lightweight materials; chiffon and organza.  Adhering to the lingerie trend, Simons offered shorts that were clean-edged, Victorian-style and pure, bright white, all of which were paired with organza dresses in soft pastels or stripes. The black bar jacket was Simons’ way of finding ‘a new kind of precision and ease’, whilst the printed parka gave the show a sense of wearability.  The looks were tied up by scarf-like chokers that were accompanied by numerical charms: ‘1947’ – Dior’s pinnacle year , and ‘8’ – a reference to the SS collection of that year later labelled ‘figure eight.’  Simons, once again, did not disappoint.


L-R:Chanel, Valentino, Dior 

This season’s Balenciaga collection was Alexander Wang’s final farewell before taking on a new project – his own self-named brand. And he truly went out with elegance. Hosted in a minimal church, with pools elevated in the middle of the runway, the Balenciaga woman was dressed in all white glory. Ruffled slip dresses and white lace slippers appeared to be the key garments in this collection. ‘I feel like I’ve graduated; it’s the last day of school’ said Wang after his final show. We wish you all the best, Alexander. Hedi Slimane really stepped out Saint-Laurent’s comfort zone for this collection. Not only did he offer unbranded wellies (paired with slips and parkas), but also baggy jeans – a step away from the house’s preference for slim and miniscule sizing.  In fact, there was a step away from the mini silhouette throughout the whole collection as tailoring was based around menswear. The small Saint-Laurent army walked around in oversized blazers and looser fitting jackets. Not only was this very 90’s grunge, but these outer and evening wear pieces actually looked wearable. Every model donned an unneeded diamante tiara whilst animal prints and camouflage were constant features. The last dozen looks of long, black evening gowns were a glimpse of the couture clothing that Slimane will be making for his private clients and close celebrity friends. Exploring a virtual universe was the theme for this Louis Vuitton collection and as a brand that was founded on, and is best-known for travel it was rather apt. Nicolas Ghesquière labelled this collection a ‘heroic fantasy’ and his heroine had attitude. The LV models stomped around the runway in fluid holographic dresses and leather straps tied round their hands. It was a Tron meets punk moment. Other pieces worth mentioning were heavily embellished silk, linen and leather garments, trousers patch worked together and biker jackets printed with the LV logo, which is undoubtedly set to be the ‘it’ statement piece for street-style next year.


L-R: Balenciago, Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton

Let’s not forget

As expected, the Dries Van Noten collection was a visual feast. And it certainly whet the appetite for lovers of all things bright.  Almost every piece was embellished with colour, print, pattern or shine – from jewel-coloured shiny jacquards and three quarter length skirts to pink bra tops.  Yet, if Mr. Van Noten had refrained from the lashes of excessive colour the audience would be left gazing at beautiful, simple tailoring: trench coats and long double-breasted jackets with peak lapels. Rick Owens’ collection may not have been the most inspiring in regards to its clothes, but it most certainly won social media. Six women were sent down the runway, not holding bags or any other form of conventional accessories, but carrying other women who were upside down. This juxtaposed visual had one clear message: the strength that women provide each other. The use of the straps to hold up the women was just another subtle symbol of the female support system. Well played, sir. In typical Alber Elbaz-style, the Lanvin collection had an unfinished feel about it. Whilst a black tuxedo jacket was cropped across the waist there were also tweed dresses with dangling thread. Who wants to be perfect anyway? Over at Miu Miu accessories were the key features of the show, with buckled black straps around nude ballets laced around the ankle, and raccoon-tail talismans swinging from the models. Acrylic hairbands and bright bags also added some colour to the show, whilst the SS ’16 trend of lingerie cropped up once again.


L-R: Elie Saab, Hermes, Isabel Marant, Nina Ricci

One’s to mention


L-R:Maison Margiela, Vetements, Commes Des Garcons, Maison Rabih Kayrouz

It’s been a long, impressive and often dramatic fashion month. Until next season it’s time for a rest for us and our smartphones.

Josh Lee

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