Highlights from Paris Fashion Week: frilly season is back

Feminine frills, masculine shirts, pleated skirts, oversized puffa jackets are the upcoming trends in ready-to-wear

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 March, 2016, 9:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 March, 2016, 9:00pm

Audiences braved the biting cold as Paris Fashion Week played out some of the more dramatic moments of this season’s shows, which finished impressively. A quirky showing at Miu Miu mixed haute denims and tapestry fabrics, Argyle knits with chic raincoats. A triumphant Louis Vuitton show was inspired by the trunk makers heritage but recast in a futuristic way. There was the much-anticipated new beginning at Balenciaga under the helm of Demna Gvasalia – a widely lauded and impressive debut that combined couture shapes with deconstructions and flashes of sports casual.

READ MORE: Demna Gvasalia, darling of Paris fashion week, in race row for only using white models

Both French houses Christian Dior and Lanvin showed new collections after losing creative directors.

READ MORE: Christian Dior, minus Raf Simons, manages a fine ready-to-wear collection

While Dior pulled off an elegant and commercially viable line (though a little lacking in drama), Lanvin fell flat in the style game with poorly fitted, shiny, fussy ’80s outfits.

While Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent continue to rub people the wrong way by trimming show sizes and seats, he redeemed himself on the catwalk, with archival references and edgy couture constructions.

READ MORE: Saint Laurent drops grunge looks for a hard-edged ’90s glamour in its ready-to-wear collection

Dior and Chanel, meanwhile, looked toward their roots and played it safe, exploring strong house codes in desirable outfits meant to please fans.

There was often a tension between masculine outerwear for next winter over more fluid and feminine looks underneath. A focus on contrasting materials from shearling and fur to shiny metallic, tweed and delicate silk made for some complex combinations as several trends quickly emerged from the French catwalks:

Size matters

There was barely a catwalk that didn’t feature oversized puffa jackets, voluminous bombers or parkas. Chic outerwear this season was chunky, often worn over sleeker outfits, skinny trousers or even miniskirts. Whether pulled open over the shoulders at Balenciaga, padded at Rick Owens, in contrasting fabrics at Sacai or ultra padded at Acne, voluminous coats are perhaps the “it” item for next autumn winter.

Shiny and chrome

Shiny metallic fabrics were expertly employed on tops at Stella McCartney or on beautiful Chanel tweeds. J. W. Anderson’s triumphant collection at Loewe showed off metallic accessories and cool accents. Kenzo, meanwhile, did some very odd metallic prints on baggy nightdresses. Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent show was an exercise in high glamour ’80s and ’90s styles with bold shoulders and plenty of shine and sparkle. Some of the most eye-catching looks were the sequined and embellished one-shoulder minidresses with hemlines so short they barely covered bottoms.

Pleats and more pleats

This was a dominant force on the catwalks of Sacai, McCartney, Kenzo, as well as big houses Valentino and Chanel. Pleated skirts, especially longer hemlines, are back with a serious bang. Pleats can have a vintage feel, or provide a dynamic sense and elegance of movement as seen at Valentino, where the talented design duo created a whole collection around dance and ballet. Sacai, where pleats are a signature, utilises this to a very different, almost punky effect, where volumes are created through utility straps pulled over pleated skirts and jackets.

Lasting bohemia

The effect of the ’70s on trends show little signs of abating and big flares and long, flowing dresses have survived the test of time. Chloé’s beautiful fabrications this season provided a point of departure for its bohemian blouses and flowing dresses. Elie Saab showed off dark tiered laces, floppy wide brimmed hats and shorts – think luxury festival chic but with couture detailing. Tiered lace, bowed blouses and floppy boho dresses were also a hit at Sonia Rykiel, a brand that is finally getting its groove back under the guidance of designer Julie de Libran.

Frill seekers

Looking at the catwalks now, it’s hard to imagine that fashion was recently in the grips of minimalism. Recent seasons have shown a move back towards the decorative, maximal and very feminine vibe. Frills were everywhere – on the skirts, jackets and shirts of brands such as Kenzo, Balmain, Givenchy, Lanvin and Rochas. The frills often came with a vintage twist, especially on high collared, Victorian inspired shirts that seem to be all the rage this season.

Masculine shirts and big utility jackets

Big pockets and straight cuts gave tops at Hermès, Balenciaga and Céline a cool, masculine touch. This was at times cinched with a belt, like at Hermès, but more often the oversized shapes were left alone. Céline played it low-key with oversized shirts and jackets, leaving behind some of the sensuality of last season. Kenzo did some great masculine pieces that opened the show, and at Louis Vuitton oversized denims hit a high note with a youthful crowd. Gvasalia’s Balenciaga tapped into the zeitgeist here, with crisp oversized shirts that looked like they were cut for men, layered and half tucked in for an effortless, devil-may-care attitude.