Fashion insiders are a hard bunch to please and Dior creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri has found little favour with critics. Customers, however, have embraced her designs and they are the ones who ultimately matter. Success at retail aside, her obsession with making feminist statements on the runway, as she did again for autumn-winter 2019, is wearing a bit thin. Anthony Vaccarello, creative director of Saint Laurent, had a lot to prove this season, especially now that his predecessor Hedi Slimane is at rival house Celine. He delivered with a spectacular mise-en-scene that featured a stunning finale of glow-in-the-dark neon looks. Slimane, meanwhile, went back to Celine’s bourgeois roots with a collection of tailored jackets, culottes worn with high boots, and long-sleeved dresses – mainly in a palette of brown, notoriously a difficult colour to pull off. This was a big improvement on his first effort for the brand and is bound to do well when it hits stores. Like Celine, Spanish leather-goods house Loewe is owned by LVMH, which has executed a successful turnaround at the brand. Jonathan Anderson’s clothes for the label are unfailingly beautiful and his accessories impeccable. Despite the consistency of his output, you feel that the designer has done all he could do at Loewe and is perhaps destined for bigger stages. The Balenciaga show demonstrated once again that Demna Gvasalia, whose work at Vetements has become a tad repetitive and gimmicky, is a talented designer. The collection had superb tailoring, chic turtle-neck dresses and only a smattering of the streetwear that has made the brand’s fortunes. There was nary an ugly sneaker in sight, either, although they’re still front and centre in Balenciaga stores, where they sell like hot cakes. Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli seems to have the opposite problem of Dior’s Chiuri, his former co-creative director at the Italian brand. The fashion media cannot stop raving about his creations but they are so beautiful and ethereal that it’s not always easy to translate them into commercial clothes and accessories. Once again, he had a great show, inspired this time by poetry. The range also featured pieces designed in collaboration with Undercover’s Jun Takahashi. Female designers are behind some of the biggest shows in Paris. The work of Natacha Ramsay-Levi, who used to be under Nicolas Ghesquière at both Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton and now helms Chloé, is clearly influenced by that of her former boss. Her collections, however, are far from derivative and define modern Parisian cool. Stella McCartney, Chitose Abe of Sacai and Clare Waight Keller at Givenchy are three other major draws. But while McCartney’s and Abe’s clothes are meant for everyday wardrobes, Waight Keller has been mainly successful with her evening wear (she has famously dressed the Duchess of Sussex on several occasions). While her autumn-winter 2019 collection was beautiful, Waight Keller has yet to create the cool separates and accessories that were once Givenchy’s strengths under Riccardo Tisci. Like Anderson at Loewe, Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen never fails to deliver beautiful collections, often inspired by her native Britain. This time she went back to the fabric mills near her hometown for inspiration, offering her signature mix of sharp tailoring and bustier dresses. Her ready-to-wear is second to none but for the brand to grow, Burton needs to come up with covetable bags and accessories. The spectre of Karl Lagerfeld’s death loomed large over the Chanel show, held as usual at the Grand Palais and featuring a winter wonderland of mountain chalets and snow-covered trees. Lagerfeld conjured up the idea of the set and designed the collection in close collaboration with Virginie Viard, his successor. If the show is any indication, things will stay the course at the Parisian maison, which never fails to delight guests with its blockbuster productions. Louis Vuitton capped off a week of back-to-back shows and events with a recreation of the Renzo Piano-designed Centre Pompidou in the courtyard of the Louvre. Much like the futuristic building, the autumn-winter 2019 collection, designed by artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière, was a mishmash of influences, from streetwear to modern art and the urban tribes of Paris.