The best of Paris Fashion Week: blockbuster Balenciaga, confident Chloé, dreamy McQueen, and a Hong Kong debutante
Demna Gvasalia gave Balenciaga a grown-up look, Chloé caters to women who mean business, Sarah Burton was masterful at McQueen, and Piccioli can do no wrong at Valentino, while Anais Jourden makes an assured Paris debut
Things kicked into high gear at Paris Fashion Week with the Dior show, held amid freezing temperatures at the Musée Rodin on the city’s Left Bank.
Maria Grazia Chiuri, the label’s creative director, looked to the youthquake movement of 1968, offering once again her feminist take on a collection that, political message aside, will resonate with the younger demographic Dior has been targeting since Chiuri’s arrival.
Anthony Vaccarello also courted the young with a Saint Laurent show that stayed true to his va-va voom and less-(clothing)-is-more aesthetic without entering vulgar or crass territory.
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Both Clare Waight-Keller at Givenchy and Natacha Ramsay-Levi at Chloé showed their sophomore collections. Keller offered a very elegant line-up of luxurious separates that perhaps erred too much on the safe side, while Ramsay-Levi is cementing her strong vision at Chloé, which in just two seasons has shed its image as the go-to brand for boho girls to become a source of wardrobe staples for strong women who mean business.
Jonathan Anderson at Loewe never fails to deliver, and this season, inspired by the literary classics he left on each seat, such as Don Quixote and Wuthering Heights, he came up with a series of, well, wardrobe classics featuring the intricate workmanship and arts-and-crafts touches that have become signatures of the Spanish leather-goods house since he took the helm.
Balenciaga was another blockbuster show, with creative director Demna Gvasalia riffing on his favourite theme, streetwear meets couture, while also giving the collection a grown-up feel that, if you don’t count the heavily layered looks that came at the end, drew a clear line between his work at his own brand, Vetements, and his gig at Balenciaga.
Right before the shows began it was announced that Chinese conglomerate Fosun had bought a majority stake in beleaguered house Lanvin. Let’s hope that the cash injection will help the brand get back on its feet, as its autumn/winter 2018 collection was anything but memorable.
Hermès’ offering, while also quite safe, will be catnip for its avid fans (we can already picture those cosy blankets complete with leather straps on the arms of wealthy jet-setters around the world), while Valentino seems to be doing no wrong under Pierpaolo Piccioli, who has been the sole creative director since Maria Grazia Chiuri’s appointment at Dior.
By focusing on celebrating beauty, look after look, in his impeccable shows, Piccioli has managed to keep building momentum for the Italian brand while also giving it a fresher and more casual attitude.
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While all everyone could talk about after the McQueen show were the beautiful monogrammed fisherman’s sweaters left on every seat, the collection was also a highlight, not just for its inventive mix of tailoring and dreamy looks that designer Sarah Burton has become a master at but also for its inclusive casting, which featured models of all ethnicities and, just as important, ages and sizes.
Paris stalwart Chanel didn’t disappoint, either, with a foliage-inspired collection that was a welcome change from recent efforts, which have felt a bit gimmicky and light on substance – although the house was slammed for chopping down 100-year-old trees for its set.
On the last day, before none other than Louis Vuitton, Hong Kong-based designer Anais Jourden made her Paris catwalk debut. It was remarkable to see how her signature touches, such as embellished A-line skirts and frayed edges, resonated on such a global stage.