Ghesquière enjoyed a subtle debut at Louis Vuitton, Chanel set up in a supermarket and McCartney's models danced as the big fashion names brought the curtain down on Paris Fashion Week.
Expectations were high for Nicholas Ghesquière's first collection for Louis Vuitton. On each seat was a typed letter from the designer who expressed his quest for "authenticity and innovation" and a desire for "timelessness". The understated but classic autumn-winter looks were unexpected but desirable. Items destined for every woman's wardrobe included black leather A-line coats with snap buttons, sporty tops with industrial zips, and tapestry prints and patchwork dresses in luxe materials like suede and croc. Hourglass knit skirts decorated with panels of feathers showed off fabric innovation, while the must-have accessory was the miniature LV trunks. While it may have lacked the drama of his predecessor's collections, but it holds promise for the future.
Invoking McQueen's famous Widows of Culloden collection from 2006, Sarah Burton transported us back to the Highland moors and Scottish roots of her predecessor. This romantic collection, with its tiered A-line dresses in celestial embroidered lace, feathery gowns, 18th-century style velvet jacquard jackets and hooded capes, reconnected the label with its past and the darkly Gothic mood for which McQueen was renowned. Models with pearly white faces and cornrow plaited hair, treading through a bleak, wintery heathland recreated the primal menace of McQueen in its early days.
It takes imagination to envisage Karl Lagerfeld in a supermarket doing his weekly food shop, but that was the entertaining image he created for us in his vast supermarket with shelves stacked with cleverly branded Chanel goodies. Lait de Coco (coconut milk), Mademoiselle Privé floor mats and a chainsaw handbag were just a few of the items which the models picked up around the aisles. The clothes had a sporty, urban vibe with the focus on the hugely successful trainers created for the couture collection. There were silver foil overcoats, padlock necklaces and a pastel bomber seemingly made from balls of cotton wool.
Sixties Italian pop art was the starting point for this collection, which saw a colourful, graphic look with cute, mod-style short hemlines reconnect with the work of founder Valentino Garvani. The collection then gently segued into the more familiar territory of designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, with graceful shirt collar dresses, capes and sweeping gowns that displayed the extraordinary handwork of their Roman ateliers. There were a few minimalist pieces, but it was the beautiful butterfly appliquéd dresses, rich flora and fauna prints, embroideries, intarsia knits and stunning pictorial furs that had a whiff of couture and desirability.
Valli knows his market, and his gaggle of young, international sophisticates like their dresses short and pretty with a bit of feminine volume. So there were a number of fit-and-flare coats and dresses cut with folded flaps at the side, creating a soft square skirt. This season he played with interesting textures and animal prints for coats, while dresses came in an array of reds and pretty pinks destined for a party next winter.
This season, the designer had some fun. Her coats and dresses were covered in a floral motif created entirely out of zips, while mountain cord added colour to grey tweed coats and jumpers. Tie-dye prints and draped fringing appeared on a series of must-have short dresses. Then there was that whimsical head-to-toe knitwear. Fans of her tailoring were not disappointed as she experimented with a narrower silhouette as narrow blazers came with sculptured sleeves and matching stirrup trousers.
Oscar winners Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong'o were in attendance as Miuccia Prada lightened up for autumn by returning to the brand's roots with a playful and youthful collection punctuated with sporty elements. Quilting, another big trend in Paris, came on skirts, drop waist dresses and pastel coloured coats. Outerwear was also big with hooded nylon windbreakers layered under coats or long leather jackets with patchworks of colour. Later, PVC raincoats were matched with pretty rain booties decorated with bows and in girly colours.
Hedi Slimane may have joined only a few seasons ago, but we now know what to expect from his shows - too-cool-for-school gawky models and rockers in the front row. Another thing to add to the list is a well-merchandised wardrobe with a rock edge and plenty of lavish, luxe details. Spangly party dresses (one with a gold gun print), biker jackets, skinny tux jackets (matched with bow ties) and, new this season, retro-vibe A-line dresses with Peter Pan collars. There was also outerwear, including a sporty green parka.
As the closing show of a four-week, four-city season, Christophe Lemaire gave us pause for reflection. Laid back luxurious overcoats in double-faced wool and cashmere, slouchy tailored pants, oriental carpet prints and oversized jackets were graceful and pared back. His palette of soothing, earthy neutrals echoed the architectural interiors of the Bourse where he staged the show. Lemaire encapsulated this season's mood for big, loose blanket-style coats and easy sweater style dressing.