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 Best of Milan Fashion Week Spring 2018

Milan seemed up in its spirits this season. Of all the major fashion cities around the world, Milan has has a harder time with reinventing itself and finding its signature aesthetics. While the city’s designers are still looking for their voices, it seems that the soul-searching has led to a signature Milan-look. The Spring collections were filled with pretty things. Frilly white frocks were cut and sewn into delicate silhouettes, while pops of color and pattern introduced a light dusting of excitement throughout the week. In the end, it’s good to see that Milan is moving in this direction. Here’s hoping Milano sticks to the pristine angelic ensembles that graced the runway this season. Pretty suits the city.

Versace

Versace is an Italian powerhouse and has been for more than two decades. Celebrities and the elite have tripped over their own two feet to wear the iconic Medusa head on their bodies. But it seems that the world craves Versace now more than ever. Which seems like the perfect timing since this year commemorates Gianni Versace, who died in 1997. Donatella created a collection that took the spotlight away from the horrific murder and once again focused on her brother’s designs. The collection celebrated Gianni’s affinity for sexy mini dresses, cropped bolero jackets, gold chains, and seashell motifs. Versace’s designs were never intended to feel serious and uptight; they always felt fun and celebratory, like joy in printed fabric form, which is exactly the kind of carefree joy the world needs right now.

Missoni

Missoni is one of those brands that have become synonymous with Italian fashion. Since its humble beginnings back in 1953, brand has never ceased to surprise with its signature zigzag knits. Now some may think that keeping alive house codes created back in the ’50s is a recipe for disaster, but that isn’t always the case. With so many designers abandoning the things that made their brand famous back in the day, it’s refreshing to see brands like Missoni reinvent itself without throwing away its foundations. This season, Angela Missoni presented a collection with a bohemian flare. But the collection didn’t rely soley on boho-chic to get by — many contemporary trends came into play. Sheer gowns and oversized cardigans looked right at home beside completely on-trend oversized sunhats, giving the collection a vintage yet contemporary feeling.

Elisabetta Franchi

Kudos to Maria Grazia for attempting to pull off a modern western vibe at Dior a few months ago (better luck next time!), but it looks like Elisabetta Franchi has the entire look covered. Franchi, who’s mostly known for dressing Italy’s well-to-do in elegant and refined clothing, often opted for traditional glamour than take the route of over the top fashion designer or high fashion extremes. However, this collection marks a very interesting moment for the designer. Diverging from her usuals, Franchi chose to create a whimsical and very mature take on vintage western clothing. Large black straw hats were paired alongside flirty rompers and micro mini dresses. Long billowing gowns had pretty historic touches sewn throughout — they’re versatile and can be worn as they were seen on the runway or on their own. The accessories used throughout the show also emphasized the old world decorative dressing. The belts had a particular beauty about them, with their strung pearls and gold dangling delicately at the waist.

Prada

Arguably the most important designer in Italy (maybe even the world) Miuccia Prada lives and breathes fashion. Look at the last decade and try to find a collection that wasn’t in one way or another infleuntial, artistic, innovative, and beautiful. It’s likely that you won’t. And that’s what sets Miuccia and Prada apart from the pack. Prada has always been known as the brand that’s years ahead of its time. Elements from collections that Miuccia created years ago continue to pop up in other designers’ collections season after season. Luckily, Madame Prada commands enough respect to never have her designs completely ‘borrowed’. This season’s collection follows suit. Classic, the Prada-ism that put the brand at the top of the fashion game, with touches of forward-thinking design makes for a modern collection fit for fashion’s most progressive dressers. The collection itself was a crossroads of interesting designs, mixing beatnik vests and shirting with flirty in-your-face Prada patterns that the brand is known for. The bright pops of tomato red fit in perfectly with the season’s biggest color trend. And the accessories, as per usual, are simply to die for, with the brand’s signature graphic handbags once again on center stage.

Luisa Beccaria

Ethereal beauty reigned supreme at Luisa Beccaria this season. Everything seemed to be touched by a fairy godmother’s wand. Sheer gowns were strewn in embroidered flowers, eyelet lace, pastels, and fancy little polka dots. The show felt very surreal with models walking through a courtyard dotted with petals to the sound of classical music. The color scheme was very soft and delicate, mirroring the overall feeling of the show. Yet the delicate colors didn’t feel fragile but inviting and warm. Even the cool baby blues somehow managed to come across far more sumptuous and warm than cold and icy. Another major factor that made this collection stand out from the crowd of soft and pretty runway shows was its effortless sexiness. Many of the collection’s looks featured barely-there shorts and almost all of the gowns and dresses that walked the runway displayed various levels of transparency. But the collection never felt like it was trying to look sexy — Beccaria managed to infuse grown-up sexiness into the collection by manipulating the levels of sheerness throughout. It wasn’t about provoking by exposing the models’ breasts through gauzy fabric or by revealing a panty underneath a long gown. It was about dressing a woman in a natural, carefree, and self-loving way.

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Fashion Trend Report: New York and London Spring 2018

After a grueling few seasons, it’s good to see how New York and London have finally started to batten down the hatches and weather the storm that’s been pummeling the industry for quite some time now. With so many of the world’s most talked about brands closing doors or downsizing dramatically, it’s reassuring to finally see these fashion capitals reinvent themselves to push forward. And luckily for the fashion loving crowds of the world, with innovation and change come new trends that will paint the market and influence what the everyday retail fashion will see for the rest of the year. Here are some of New York and Londons best trends for Spring!

Tomato Soup & Lemonade

Bright colours reigned this Spring season. But above all the jewel tones and pastel that walked the runway, it was tomato red and lemon yellow that reigned supreme. New York seemed to have started the trend, with more than a handful of designers sending bright tomato red pieces down the runway with a ton of success. Across the pond, Londoners were treated to a healthy dose of vitamin C, with designers opting for bright and tart lemon yellow instead of red as their statement colour. The great thing about having warm pop colours for this spring is that fashion can now move away from the pastel trend that’s taken hold of Spring the last few seasons. Giving fashion lovers a bright alternative to whispy delicate spring hues when the warmer weather arrives once again.

Peek-A-Boo

To no one’s surprise, last year’s biggest trend was carried over to this season. Sheer clothing managed to sweep the runways once again this season, with almost every designer incorporating sheer garments into their collections. Both London and New York had their fair share of sheer frocks and two pieces, with designers choosing either sheer fabric or lace to create an alluring silhouette that oozes sensuality and delicateness. Now what you can get away with on the runway v.s. what’s practical for everyday can sometimes be two very different things. Fortunately, wearing the sheer trend doesn’t have to mean wearing a head to toe sheer dress or a translucent jumpsuit. Instead, opt for a sheer lace blazer or sheer silk blouse to create the same effect for a more everyday look.

Power Shoulder, Power Sleeve

Call them what you want (puff sleeves are probably the easiest generalization) but the dramatic ’80s sleeve and shoulder are back and stronger than ever, and they graced the runways of New York and London’s runways this season. The choice to bring the puff sleeves back from the dead most likely stemmed from last year’s high and fast fashion industries’ obsession with bell sleeves and elongated sleeves. However, the addition of puff sleeves to the extravagant sleeve family adds a touch of vintage glamour, straight out of the mid-80s’s most popular girl’s wardrobe.

DenimDenimDenim

For the past two years, denim has been the be-all-end-all in popular fashion. During London and New York, denim took a more decorative turn with destroyed and reworked denim. In London, elongated denim jackets created a beautifully elegant silhouette with an alternative and modern twist; in New York, ripped denim was paired with elegant evening outfits, creating a new wave of eveningwear that’s sure to end up as the go-to night-out outfit for many of the fashion world’s social media elites.

Fairytale Eleganza

Every season has its fair share of over the top, highly stylized gowns. However, this season seemed to up the ruffle factor by creating fairytale gowns fit for any princess. Many of the gowns featured this season’s hottest colours, while others featured stunning floral patterns and beautifully sheer fabrics, which all fell in line with the season’s trends. The gowns recreate the old-world fairytale silhouettes that feel as though they’ve come straight out of the world’s greatest stories. In New York, designers opted for more romantic stylings, trading in modern flair for a more vintage and sheer alternative to evening gowns; London chose to feature more contemporary versions of old-world looks, featuring brighter colours and far more modern silhouettes, while still adhering to the aesthetics of the inspiration.

Designer Profile: Luar

Raul Lopez, designer. Photo courtesy of Vogue.

Raul Lopez makes clothes for the future, where the patriarchy has crumbled and AI bots’ styles are the most coveted thing in fashion. Lopez began his career as one of the founding members of Hood By Air, but left to start his own brand, previously labeled Luar Zepol. After a two-year hiatus, Lopez returned to fashion in 2017 recharged and launched Luar.

Dystopia and unabashed femininity run rampant throughout Luar’s collections. Never shedding its street wear or club sensibility, Luar encompasses all things futuristic and is most inspired by technology. The brand is for the progressive minded, for those who understand that gender is constructed and that labels are something of the past and limiting. No, skirts and dresses are not just for women. They’re for everyone. Lopez’s personal philosophy, one engrained in all his projects, is that fashion and music go hand in hand, one cannot exist without the other. How else do you create an encompassing culture and community? It’s easy to see the kind of space that Lopez occupies when you look at his collections.

Lopez uses his lines to express his opinions and tell stories through his garments. In his first few Luar Zepol collections, it was an exploration of the designer’s identity and upbringing. With Luar, Lopez is using his platform to express his opinions and critique what’s happening around him. 2018 was the designer’s first venture into a full women’s ready to wear collection and, as he explained it, “was focused on the type of woman who is in touch with her hyper-masculine side, one on a power trip and one who is looking for revenge on any man that has ever tried to make her feel ashamed.” He adds, “She is complex — she loves a night out on Dyckman Street [in New York’s Inwood area], but also lives for an elegant and classy moment.” In both his women and men’s lines, Lopez sent out models in deconstructed business people and bankers’attire: ties sewn together to form skirts, deconstructed blazers, and men’s shirts reformed to create something totally new. Trump-esque hair pieces attached to models and Wu Tang Clan’s lyrics “Cash Rules Everything Around me” sprinkled throughout the collection.

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The best of Paris Men’s Fashion Week

Men’s fashion weeks around the world sometimes get a bad wrap as being mere fillers used to hold the fashion market between the ladies’ shows, which, to some extent, is true. With fashion being a predominantly female-focused industry, designers sometimes ended up creating menswear as a quick fix to engender male buyers’ interest in the brand. The result: lackluster and uninspired collections that really had nothing to do with the brand apart from carrying its name on the label. However, it seems as though many designers are finally understanding the power that a solid menswear line can have. Every season, it seems that more and more designers are popping up on the men’s week schedules, all with their own styles, twists, and innovative designs aimed at changing the face of menswear around the world.

Thom Browne

Photos: Vogue Runway

It looks as if the biggest trend this season is genderless clothing, the mixing and matching of men’s and women’s to create a new range of clothing that fit the term “humanwear” rather than menswear. At Thom Browne, the air was heavy with the idea of gender non-conformity. What was once seen as women’s clothing was quickly turned into a collection of genderless formal wear, at once crisp and heavily based on traditional tropes of masculinity, but also made soft and feminine through the use of tailoring and length. Thom Browne created a double image, almost like two images placed on top of one another. It isn’t either or, it’s about humanity and its similarities rather what makes what gender what.

Dior Homme

Photos: Vogue Runway

Now it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the spring collections are riddled with shorts. The whole point of a spring collection is to provide the customers with a seasonally appropriate outfit as the weather starts to warm up. However, it seems that, over the past few seasons, men’s shorts seemed to have been getting shorter and shorter. This is most likely due to the fact that menswear is only very rarely affected by the rules of masculinity and femininity. So it wasn’t in the least bit shocking to see designer Kris Van Ashe send out a flurry of cropped hems on the runway at Dior Homme. The beauty in this collection comes from the casualness of the shorts. Instead of creating a traditionally formal look for menswear, it creates a much more youthful and carefree silhouette.

Undercover

Photos: Vogue Runway

Jun Takahashi is no stranger to creating interesting and fiercely modern knitwear for his collections at Undercover. His post-apocalyptic ’90s cyberpunk collection is very relevant to what’s been happening over the last year with the massive influx of punk, grunge, and metal in menswear. But it isn’t just the heavy knits that make this collection something worth looking into. The outerwear is exceptionally well made and eye-catching. Oversized garments also seemed to be a big selling point throughout the collection. Exaggerated trapeze style coats walked alongside massive, overstretched flannels, and sweaters add to the “I don’t care, I wear what I want!” attitude of the collection.

Lucien Pellat-Finet

Photos: Vogue Runway

“How do you do preppy in 2017 without having to resort to beige cargo shorts and a candy coloured polo shirt?” That must have been the question designer Lucien Pellat-Finet must have been asking himself when he designed this fun take on the varsity jock’s go-to for his Spring 2018 collection. What’s interesting about this collection is the subtle yet completely recognizable throwback to the early ’90s jock — the inviting pastels as well as the velours and gauzy prints that scream varsity loungewear. Think Mark Paul Gosslear in Saved by the Bell, just far more high fashion. Another statement that jumps out here is one that was being made at many of the other collections. There was a real sense of soft femininity which may have either been brought on by the pastels, or the subtle change in fit. While most of the garments looked to be normal length, some were designed to fit a tad bit on the cropped size; an ode to womenswear for sure.

Juun.J

Photos: Vogue Runway

One of the biggest surprises to come out of Paris menswear week this season had to be designer Juun. J’s “formless and genderless” collection. The collection, which featured men’s and women’s clothing, was created with the ultimate goal of being interchangeable, the line between menswear and womenswear virtually indistinguishable. There were clear men and ladies influences. The hard pinstripe suiting and outerwear and the soft flowing shirting and caftan style dresses meshed and interchanged beautifully with one another. The collection showed its audiences that interchangeable unisex collections aren’t something of science fiction. They’re very now and seem to be a driving force behind the engine that is fashion. Take the army green hoodie paired with the long white caftan dress that walked the show. The entire look is completely wearable for both men and women without altering the look of the outfit itself.

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