Paris Fashion Week Spring 2018: The Highlights

 Moncler Gamme Rouge

Giambattista Valli is a powerhouse when it comes to design. His year consists of designing 4 ready to wear collections both of his ready to wear labels, 2 couture collections for his couture house, and 2 collections for Moncler’s couture house. Altogether, that comes out to 8 collections per year. Without counting accessory design and any other creative venture each brand partakes in. It comes without a doubt that the man is astoundingly busy. However, this constant whirlwind of creative design can sometimes lead designers into the realm of reproduction, where minor labels take on the mirror image of their parent brands. But luckily for Valli, his creative spark and talent persevere in even the toughest of situations, creating stunningly unique that differ from one another wildly. This season, his always vibrant and whimsical collection for Moncler (which is always themed after some sort of outdoor sport) took an interesting turn. Rather than continue on the well established outdoorsy path that Moncler Gamme Rouge is known for, Valli decided to base the collection on the rehearsal uniforms of ballet dancers. Kitschy leg warmers and ballet flats stormed the runway whilst simple t-shirts and leotards were accented with tulle skirts (the famed tutu if you will) which created an elegant yet wonderfully young and playful take on on modern luxury athleisure apparel. What definitely stood out from the pack the most had to be the array of down filled jackets and outerwear. Some coming in the form of marshmallow life down puffer coats, while others came in the form of translucent windbreakers and belted coat dresses.

Dries Van Notten

What can you say? The man knows his way around a piece of fabric. Fashion legend Dries Van Notten returns again this season with a stunning collection filled with his signature knack for patterns and stunning silhouette. If there were certain colours destined to be the colours of the season, this collection didn’t focus on just that. It was more concerned with the playfulness of bringing together bright and hardy jewel tones and mixing them in with neutrals and earth tones. Creating a pleasantly warm (but never doughty) collection fit for the modern fashion-forward mogul. The collection, though very rooted in Van Notten’s signature silhouettes, seemed to have a hint of softer feminity to it. The usual suspects were all there. Van Notten’s suits in strong wool plaids and his elegant slips. However, this season Van Notten added the simple yet extremely effective addition of almost-invisible embroidered sheer tunics to cover some of the stronger looks. Giving the collection a soft and ethereal vibe that the designer doesn’t often turn to. Another great aspect of the collection has to be the pieces which featured handkerchief draped scarves adoring various sides of the ensembles. This simple addition the designer not only softens the looks but adds a sense of romance to the designs. Something that has seemed to be really lacking in the fashion industry outside of a few designers still willing to commit to old school romance in favour of harsh contemporary design.

Jacquemus

After flexing his design muscles season after season, what’s a more appropriate term to describe Simon Porte Jacquemus of Jacquemus than fashion wunderkind? His unique ability to fuse haute Parisien design with modern sensuality is something very little designers, French or otherwise, can manage to do within the realm of good taste. However, Monsieur Jacquemus masters the art of balance with a such a keen precision and lust for life that not many designers in today’s industry could touch when it comes to creating a stunning collection. This season, his inspirations were clear. The beauty of south of France, with all of its sunshine, yachts, and toned bodies is paired beautifully with the Spanish flare and Jacquemus always apparent love for Picasso. As per usual, Jacquemus injects his raw feminine sensuality into the collection with the ultra-short hems of his dresses and beautifully body-hugging fabrics that always look as if they’ve sprung to life and wrapped themselves around model’s bodies. Yet for all the Jacquemus go-to’s within the collection, this collection seemed to be a step in a different direction for the designer. Whilst his usual designs often tend to lean towards the more avant-garde and out-of-the-box realm of design. This collection seemed to be a step towards the world of everyday wearability. Which is in no way meant as a negative. Often times designers have to explore the more abstract realm of fashion to create interest in the brand before releasing a tamer and far more commercial collection once the designer has solidified their position in the industry. However, this is where Jacquemus plays his cards differently. Since the humble beginnings of his label. All of his collections have been commercially successful yet wonderfully abstract and unique. Which is wonderful to see in an industry that’s hell-bent on either pumping out trends or creating collections with the sole purpose of selling clothes. Not art. This is clearly not Jacquemus’ view of his brand and it becomes extremely evident when his array of beautiful black models come waltzing down the runway in draped mustard yellow skirts, dresses that resemble tied travellers scarves, his iconic circle and block-heeled sandals and his wonderfully abstract and oversized sunhats. A clear evolution of his previous season’s Provencal farmer hats, which could be spotted at many runway shows around the globe these past few weeks.

Undercover

Undercover‘s Jun Takahashi has solidified himself as one of Paris’ major players when it comes to fashion. After his glorious collection which explored a queen and her court last season. Jun comes back once again with a collection deeply rooted in a larger than life narrative. Dealing with the duality in human nature. Takahashi shows his audience and clientele the light and dark of human nature, the good and bad, the ugly and the beautiful. Which often doesn’t present itself in the world of fashion very often as a comparative. For Takahashi, the vision was clear. Rather than have a linear show that showcased the transition from one point of human nature to the other, the designer opted for a runway show which showcased models in pairs (some of them twins) walking hand in hand on the runway. Each representing the two extremes within a singular person. To put the concept more simply, one model walked onto the runway with a dress that had the nighttime sky printed on it, while the other dress showcased a bright daytime sky on it. the concept was far more visible with the pairs that exhibited extreme differences within their paired looks. The most striking of these was a pair of twins who eerily resembled the two little girls from the Shinning. On one twin, the innocent looking baby blue dress seems familiar and innocent, while on the other, the same dress is strewn in red fringe that resembles blood. Reminding the audience of the poor girls’ fate. The duality may seem a little overdrawn and exaggerated for some, maybe even verging on costume rather than fashion. But what truly makes this collection on the best of the season is Takahashi’s fearlessness when it comes to design and telling a story. There are far too many designers these days that could use a lesson in creating memorable and unique moments from Mr. Takahashi.

Paris Fashion Week f/w 2017: The Highlights

Paris is widely accepted as the pinnacle of fashion around the world and for good reason. This season seems to be no exception, with designers pulling out all of the stops to present some of their most exciting and iconic collections yet. There were designers who celebrated milestones by walking down memory lane, while others expressed their takes on modern feminism by pulling from the past. There was even a utopia created completely out of fabric that transcended words. With that said, Novella is proud to present the best of Paris Fashion Week!

Photo: Kim Weston Arnold

Dries Van Noten

It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen a runway show sport such an outstanding roster that it sends me into a flurry of nostalgia with every passing model that came into the camera’s view, but that’s exactly what Dries Van Noten did for his 100th show in Paris. Models from all over the globe strutted down the runway in his creations for the show (some whom have walked his first shows back in the early 90s) in a show of support for Dries’ 20-year long breadth of work. Apart from having the pleasure of seeing the likes of Nadja Auermann and Malgosia Bela strut down the runway, fans around the world were treated to a whirlwind of prints that came straight from the brand’s archives. Noten’s paisleys and florals were dusted off and brought back as a celebration of the brand and its iconic designer. One interesting (and completely appropriate for our current times) aspect of the show was the heavy emphasis on menswear. Coats and suits carried a masculine air that made each of the runway veterans shine with a sense of feminine empowerment.

Photo: Vera Wang

Vera Wang

Sometimes a collection comes along that is so underlooked by the those in the fashion industry that it’s almost maddening. Such was the case at Vera Wang‘s Paris show. The New York native presented her collection in Paris last week only using model Mariacarla Boscono as her muse and beautiful historic building as her background. The entirety of the collection seems to be inspired by the queens of the world, with a heavy emphasis on Napoleonic-era military and aristocratic garb. The beauty of Vera‘s understanding of the female form and understated elegance is completely evident here in the draping and gold embellishments that hark back to a time when what you wore showed the world who you are. And Vera’s woman is that the top of the echelon. Some of the most stunning pieces that came from the collection are an Edwardian empire waist gown that cleverly comes paired with wool sleeve military jacket sleeves and a beautiful gold dress with shearling outerwear sleeves that exudes a sexiness that commands attention. However, dresses weren’t the only thing Ms. Wang had in store for her collection. Various different aspects commanded equal praise through the collection. One important piece that comes to mind is a beautiful ensemble featuring a delicate blouse with exaggerated proportions topped off with a shearling capelet that was grounded by a beautifully tailored pair of French legion style military pants.

Photo: Kim Weston Arnold

Jacquemus

The new king of Parisian design has once again outdone himself for his fall 2017 collection. I remember when a young Simon Porte Jacquemus began showing his collections in Paris. His designs seemed extremely easy going and effortless in comparison to the taught (and sometimes pretentious) standards that Paris demands of its designers. However, the idea of a young self-taught designer pushing through the fashion status quo to present original and inspired ideas was quite exhilarating. This season, Simon struck gold again with another solid collection based on the love story between a rich Parisian woman and a gypsy man from the south of France. The collection features Jacquemus’s tell-tale simplicity, which, as always, tells a far more interesting story than something with unnecessary glitz and sparkle. The collection is riddled with effortlessly fashionable “French-isms” like the simple Napoleon hats and the large gold brooches, that all bring us back to the iconic houses on Place Vendôme that put Paris on the fashion map. Apart from the all-around well-designed clothing, Jacquemus still manages to add his signature touches to the collection in the form of outstanding tailoring that plays on the brand’s fun-loving take on tailoring. Some of the best looks in this collection are the simplest in terms of design and styling — a black coat with a built-in peplum waist and suit ensemble that slightly twists at the waist.

Photo: Kim Weston Arnold

Off-White

A lot of people (myself included) are beginning to become weary and tired of seeing Vetements-isms riddle the runway. It seems as if every designer and their mother are pumping out their own alternatives to the elongated sleeve, oversized everything, puffer-jackets, oversized logo everything. The list goes on and on at this point. Now Off-White is one of those brands that sprang up with the insurgence of the streetwear dominated industry, so it came as no surprise when the brand had its fair share of Vetements inspired pieces in its collection. Fortunately, this season came with a wonderful surprise, designer Virgil Abloh created a fantasy world that echoed the modern freshness of the Off-White client while standing far enough away from any of the overused trends of the past two seasons. His collection left a lasting impression by just exhibiting well made and well put together ensembles that stay relevant to French design and European trends. Two exciting trend that was easily spotted on the Off-White runway was Prince-of-Wales check and denim; the two was intricately mixed with one another to create a complementing look that nestled somewhere in between casual elegance and sports chic. In the end, some visible Vetements-isms were still in the collection, like the mini puffer and hoodie, but they were toned down and given relevant and refreshing reimaging that made sense with the collection, rather than fighting it.

Photo: Monica Feudi

 Miu Miu

Miuccia Prada never fails to wow me. While some designers opt for taking the ideas they presented for their main brands and just altering them for their side ventures, Miuccia consistently delivers news and separate ideas for Miu Miu that only ever rarely echo what Prada is doing at the time. She understands that Miu Miu girl is not her Prada girl and both women need clothing that best represents them, not a mishmash of “either or“. This season, Miuccia created a candy coloured whirlwind for Miu Miu’s fall 2017 collection. The collection, which showcased fur-clad twenty-somethings flouncing down the runway in 60s inspired outfits (an ode to the ladies that launched the first wave of feminism maybe?) presented an interesting and relevant idea. “I am a woman, a Miu Miu woman, and I’m here to be seen!” As every woman should be, which is refreshing in a moment where women’s empowerment is being expressed by how masculine she can dress. The best examples of the what Miuccia is trying to express with feminine strength come later in the show when silky mini dresses were decorated with 3-D fuzzy flowers, wild 60s prints created a strong and imposing silhouette, and pastel coloured furs left a soft yet dominating impression on the viewer.

Photo: Yannis Vlamos

Undercover

I remember distinctly ranting and raving about this collection to our Editor-in-Chief Drew Brow whilst sipping a beer at Toronto Men’s Fashion week. The exact words I used were “I don’t think I’ve cried watching a runway show in such a long time! I was fanning my eyes Drew, I was so emotional!” And it’s true. It really has been years since a designer’s collection made me feel emotional enough to feel my eyes water, but that was exactly the case at Undercover this season. Designer Jun Takahashi presented what may be his magnum opus for Undercover at Paris fashion week last week. The collection was a cornucopia of beautiful looks that were meant to represent the residents of a kingdom or utopia built on extravagance and elegance. Now, while other designers have been rushing to pump out trend heavy and streetwear relivant collections it seems that Jun is in no way, shape, or form willing to water down his vision to accommodate the status quo. His collection was a remarkable ode to the days of Alexander McQueen, Christian Lacroix, and John Galliano at Dior. Where designers were more interested in telling a story through a collection rather than creating a collection whose sole purpose is to feed the retail industry’s need for new trends every season. But enough about the technicalities of the collection, because the clothing far outshines any written explanation that can be given to describe it. There were knitted gowns with accordion sleeves, and draped and gather military coats, velvet pie crust bomber jackets, oversized cable-knit dresses, beautifully printed opera coats, and a queen wearing and accordion pleated ball gown skirt that outshone anything that has been presented on the runway in the past few years. To be completely honest with everyone, no words I write can express the beauty of this collection in all of its regal glory. I implore you to watch the runway video of the show to see just exactly what I’m talking about. You can thank me later.