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.

The 5 Most Satisfying Surprises at Paris Fashion Week

As Paris Fashion Week brings fashion month to a glorious close. The fashion world is faced with a new set of problems. Gone is the buzz and rush of keeping track of all of the shows and presentations and now comes the 4 month wait for next season’s fashion month lineup. For now, all one can do is reminisce over all the beauty and awe-inspiring moments that come with the pinnacle of fashion that is Paris. With over 90 shows scheduled, Paris fashion week is by far the largest effort within the fashion industry to allow emerging talent from all over Europe and France to showcase their collections along side the largest fashion houses in the world. This in turn creates a beautiful atmosphere where new and old collide to create the perfect fashion storm.

Photo: Kim Weston Arnold
Photo: Kim Weston Arnold

Jacquemus

Often times designers go through season after season of perfectly acceptable collections before they hit a monumental moment that solidifies their place as fashion heavy weights. For Simon Porte Jacquemus, this was his burning bush, his revelation, his shining moment where he proved to his audience and industry peers, that he has more than enough talent to sweep Paris by storm. Unlike his previous collections, Jacquemus’ ss17 is a turning point in Simon’s career. He no longer needs to experiment with gimmicks or flashy fashion statements to get his point across. His point has been made and his voice has been heard. The Jacquemus brand is no longer just an indie brand, it’s now in line to be one of the next French fashion powerhouses. Apart from his skill as a designer, Jacquemus has a special talent that many emerging designers lack. Simon is able to see the poetry behind making clothes. His eyes are trained to see a story unravel between every fold of fabric. He’s able to turn a concept into a full-blown collection without losing the purity of his inspiration. Nowhere is this more evident than in the direct inspiration Simon took from the workwear that southern French farmers wore back in times of yonder. His clothing takes the theme and perfectly modernizes the concept and injects it with contemporary design concepts that transform the collection from theatrical, to relevant and on trend. Another part of what makes Jacquemus’ spring 2017 line one of the best this season is the way Simon was able to incorporate one of the most awe-inspiring and poignant runways among the dozens of other designers showcasing that week into his theme. The nod to working on a hot summer day in the south of France was evident, with the orange sun beaming down on the models as they walked the runway. Altogether, Simon’s ss17 collection is currently the the shining jewel set atop Jacquemus’ crown. It showcases Jacquemus humble beginnings as a brand, the simple design gestures that put Simon on the map. His unconventional take on shirting and menswear as womenswear were all there, but this time Simon went further. He showed his audience that his brand is evolving, the quirky nods to menswear are set to evolve and his brand has nowhere to go but up.

Although the entire collection itself is astounding, there are particular looks within the collection that perfectly encompass Jacquemus’ theme and inspiration. The looks serve as a doorway to another world, to the southern french landscape Simon grew up in as a child. Among the various looks seen on the runway, the strongest looks were

A white cotton blouse featuring an oversized lace trimmed bib and high waisted cropped trousers, a long charcoal grey trench coat worn over a pair of oversized wide leg pants, a pair of trousers that can only be described as “maxi Samurai pants” paired with a delicate spaghetti strap top, a wonderfully voluminous pinstripe pants suit, a pair of crisp white trousers with a red belt running through the waistband, and a ruffle sleeved bolero jacket in black.

 

Photo: Kim Weston Arnold
Photo: Kim Weston Arnold

Kenzo

One would never imagine going to a 70’s disco themed summer camp. The two things just don’t seem like they would ever cross paths in day to day life, but at Kenzo, something as ludicrous as a disco camp counsellor is perfectly plausible. This season Humberto Leon and Carol Lim showcased a wonderful collection inspired by the shapes and silhouettes seen during the height of disco in the 70’s, set against an almost utilitarian uniform in shades of olive, khaki and denim. Kenzo’s colour palate was also something to cheer about, with hues covering the broadest spectrum of tastes. Sequins and metallics were paired with neutrals, while patterns jump against patent leather and wonderful iridescent fabrics dance among the runway lights. Despite the surprisingly perfect pairing of themes and fabrics, the real beauty of the collection wasn’t in the details of the clothing themselves, but rather, the collection as a whole. Not only did Humberto and Carol put forth a stupendous theme, they were able to make a wonderfully cohesive collection that embodies what its main theme was. It doesn’t look like clothing that’s trying to mimic the idea that it came from Studio 54, rather, the collection displays a vibrancy and realness that makes appear as if was taken straight from Bianca Jagger or David Bowie’s closets. Another key aspect that places Kenzo’s show on the list of best collections is the atmosphere in which it was presented, rather than using a regular runway, or an extravagant one for that matter, Leon and Lim chose to showcase their show in what would be best described as a human museum. People painted in different shades of alabaster lined the runway, taking on the poses used in classic sculpture. This simple and strange runway choice only added to the surrealness of the show and allowed it to evolve from merely a good collection, to an experience.

With an entirely fresh and outstanding collection, it’s almost too hard to pick the best looks from the show. Luckily, there were a handful of looks that stood out from the already amazing collection. Key pieces include a denim shirt with broad shoulders worn with a pair of matching denim culottes, a black lurex jumpsuit, a printed white t-shirt dress, a shiny lipstick red dress coat, an iridescent mini dress in ice blue, and a silky patterned dress coat that resembles rippling water.

 

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Anne Sofie Madsen

Presenting a collection during PFW for the first time can be a daunting experience to say the least. Some put in all their life’s work to just fade into the background, while others explode onto the scene with collections that are sure to leave their audience wanting more. This was in fact the case for Anne Sofie Madsen’s first Paris collection last season. The Danish designer, who originally showed in Copenhagen, showcased her collection on day 2 of Paris fashion week rather than day 1. Now for those in the tune with the way fashion week in Paris works, day 1 is almost always exclusively reserved for up and coming talent. So Anne’s collection being scheduled on day 2 should have been taken as a form of foreshadowing for the raw storm of talent that was to come. The show opened with a shirt strewn with ruffles galore that took on almost deconstructed feel. This theme of deconstruction and fabrication is carried out masterfully throughout the collection. The evolution of seeing outfits that look as if they’ve been picked apart and reassembled evoke images of past designers who have put unconventional and deconstructed design on the map. Another aspect of the collection that allows it to distance itself from the conformity of today’s trends is the fact that the collection may have another underlying theme. When looked at closely, the collection conjures up images of a societal subculture called “steampunk.” Now traditional steampunk attire consists of mixing Victorian or Edwardian clothing with vintage industrial machinery. However, Madsen’s take on steampunk isn’t as literal as mixing ruffled collars with cogs and gears, her interpretation calls for a modern take on the look. Skirts are adorned with metal accents and carabiners, while pants are enveloped in patent leather harnesses and shiny metal buckles. These simple, yet striking details lend a hand a creating a visual twist within the collection, rather than just being a collection based on deconstruction alone, Anne adds simple and amusing flashes of costume that ground the collection, while still keeping it weird and interesting. Another interesting set of details the collection boasts are its incorporation of man made materials; beautifully tailored coats are plastered with images personally drawn by Anne. While other, more intricately cut shirts and skirts, sport pieces of packing tape as applique.

While Anne’s collection isn’t the most street friendly attire one could wear this season, the collection does rely on a few very well made and very wearable pieces to keep it within commercial range. But that isn’t where the fun lies. The real testaments to Madsen’s talent are in her more outlandish designs. An array of ruffled shirts paired with relaxed trousers, a gorgeous leather bolero worn over and embellished hoodie and beige skirt, an off the shoulder fringed patchwork sweater, a pantsuit featuring a taped together blazer, a printed bodysuit worn under and almost tent like poncho, all put emphasis on Madsen’s ability to take the unusual and create something stunning from it.

 

Photo: Marcus Tondo
Photo: Marcus Tondo

Moncler Gamme Rouge

As most fashion aficionados know, Paris fashion week has ended with Miu Miu for a quite a while now and this season was no different. Models strutted down the runway in Miuccia Prada’s designs once again this season to close out fashion month. Unfortunately for the big wigs who plan the entire event. They missed a big opportunity to send fashion week off with a bang. This season at Moncler Gamme Rouge, couturier Giambattista Valli sent a clear and simple message, “Vive la France! Vive la Revolution!” The theme was apparent. This collection was a reinterpretation of times gone by. Models walked the runway in the most adorable hats inspired by the French legions of the days of old. French flags were seen on everything from harnesses, to capes and there wasn’t anything bad about it. Now this collection could have easily wandered into tacky cliche territory, but Valli’s gift for creating youthful and fresh collections keeps the nod to France’s past grounded and steers the collection in quirky territory, rather than tacky. Another aspect that makes this collection one of the most so likeable are the whimsical twists that are laid throughout the collection. Many of the outfits sport sketches of Parisian landmarks and architecture printed on their fabrics, while others sport paisley, floral applique and embroidery. Apart from the fun of the entire show, the collection is still rooted in extremely well-constructed design. The fresh take on sportswear that Valli showcases is not only on trend, but perfectly aligned to Moncler’s legacy of creating luxury sportswear for the masses.

It’s hard to pick key pieces in a collection that’s already so wearable. In reality, there is one look within this collection that can be deemed iffy or bad, which ultimately leaves no room for a select amount of key pieces. The entire collection is something the young fashionista needs in their closet.

 

Photo: Kim Weston Arnold
Photo: Kim Weston Arnold

John Galliano

One of the biggest surprises this season was at John Galliano. After the unfortunate events at Dior and having to sell his namesake brand to LVMH. Iconic designer was left with the job of passing on the torch to a new designer who would take the reigns at his namesake label. The daunting task of steering Galliano’s brand into a new era was ultimately given to Bill Gaytten, who worked under Galliano at Dior for years before his departure. Like most designers who are hired to resume the creative process after a designer has spent years building a brand, Gaytten was faced with harsh criticism and high expectations. At first, his collections seemed underwhelming when placed alongside Galliano’s theatrics, but recently, Bill has finally managed to weave his own personal design aesthetic into a brand that had seemingly been forgotten by the fashion world. This season, Gaytten showcased his strongest collection yet. The inspiration was there, vintage 1930’s silhouettes (a go-to for Galliano) were modernized to appeal to today’s trends, while luxurious naval  influences from the 1700’s and onward were seen throughout. While the house of Galliano will most likely never look the way it used to when John was there, Bill has finally come to a level of understanding on what the brand is and how he can make it his own. The ideas laid out by Galliano are all still there, but Gaytten has evolved them into modern clothing any woman would want, not just the Daphne Guinness’s and Carrie Bradshaw’s of the world.

While some looks in the collection may be a little daring, like the silk and lace knickers worn under sheer dresses. There are still many wearable and sellable garments within the collection itself. Highlights include a beautiful beige coat dyed to look tea stained, an airy pearl white skirt paired with a white bralette and translucent blouse, a pair of long loose fitting trousers worn alongside a knitted black sports bra, a white and black polka dot mini, a black and white polka dot blouse worn over a knitted tank top and striped trousers, and a pretty baby blue dress paired with matching knickers underneath.