The Best of Paris Fashion Week
By Jessica Mehalic Lucas
It’s no coincidence the last leg of Fashion Week wraps up in Paris. The world’s style capital provided an apt setting for Saint Laurent’s uber-cool after-dark looks, Akris’s stunningly beautiful coats and bags and Miu Miu’s funky faux furs and playfully glam dresses. From the exquisite to the audacious, could there be a more perfect ending to Fall Fashion Week?
Karl Lagerfeld has staged Chanel’s show in a busy casino, Parisian brasserie, art gallery and high-end supermarket. What could possibly top that? A Chanel space station, replete with a life-sized rocket, in the iconic Grand Palais. Spotted in this futuristic galaxy, tweed suits and dresses with glittery lunar boots, astronaut print dresses, silver leather suits and padded space shawls. For nights out, sparkly constellations adorned sweaters, skirts and dresses in the house’s elegant signature palette of navy, black and white.
Over at Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli deftly turned out another procession of fantastical dresses. His inspiration: the Victorian period, seen in the house’s iconic, sweeping, high-waisted dresses, and the 1980s Milan-based design movement the Memphis Group, which led to bright colors and graphic prints. Stealing the show, a new floaty, waistless dress silhouette cut below the knee. It was shown in luscious satin and a black and a white print, but the pink sequin number will be on everyone’s wish list.
Demna Gvasalia lived up to his reputation as purveyor of cool, putting his daring spin on Balenciaga’s archival greatness. “I like ease and wearability,” he said. Starting things off in his quest for “modern sophistication” was a bold series of coats, jackets and puffers with asymmetric fastening. Next came pencil skirts and shirt backs made from car mats, wing mirror clutch bags and chain necklaces dangling with keys—Gvasalia believes in repurposing objects and ideas. For his grand finale and a tribute to the brand’s 100th anniversary, he marched out nine archival couture dresses, reissued with pockets and accessorized with giant matching Bazaar bags.
Clare Waight Keller described her final collection for Chloé as “psychedelic optimism.” Her grounded interpretation of that included pretty floral and mushroom motif prints livening mini dresses with a distinct ’60s vibe. Strong tailoring was also on display with oversized men’s jackets in plaids and other rugged fabrics as well as a new pants style with a dropped waist and full leg.
Demonstrating her signature strengths, Stella McCartney created wearable pieces for real women. That was evident with her Savile Row-inspired tailoring in waist-conscious, but slightly roomy silhouettes. Sexy athletic styling and equestrian prints were also present, as were luxuriously pragmatic looks (a cowl neck mini dress in burgundy suede, a leather trench coat with check epaulettes). Unlike her peers in these politically charged times, she made a feminist statement without slogan tees—layering retro conical bras under everything from sweaters to sheer evening pieces.
Nature and storytelling impressively intertwined in Sarah Burton’s Fall collection for Alexander McQueen. A trip to historic Cornwall in southern England exposed her to artisanal craftsmanship, paganism and ancient traditions like the Cloutie tree, which is adorned with ribbons as wishes and mementoes. These ribbons were translated into exquisite tweeds, artisanal cross-stitching appeared on magnificent leathers and intricate flora and fauna embroidery decorated sweeping dresses. On-point styling—studded booties and sneakers; loose, undone hair—kept the collection firmly rooted in the present.