The four biggest trends to take from Paris Fashion Week
From lingerie-inspired outerwear to metallic futurism, Jing Zhang dissects the fashions paraded on the Paris spring-summer 2016 catwalks
Fashion week in the French capital ended in a flurry of silhouettes, striking graphic patterns, haute denims, pleats, stripes and ruffles. Fabrics that promoted free movement were juxtaposed with those focused on restraint, while underwear as sensual outerwear was set against more masculine materials and styles. That fashion is continuing to loosen up is good news for fans of carefree styles and the 1970s bohemian vibe.
For spring-summer 2016, there was more lingerie and lace on the catwalks than at the Playboy Mansion. From silky slips, baby doll sheers, underwear became sensual outerwear at Céline, Balenciaga, Nina Ricci, Christian Dior and Miu Miu. Even Jonathan Anderson did satiny pastel pyjamas for Loewe.
Sex is a powerful motivator and source of inspiration, so it's no surprise that designers have returned to lingerie-inspired fashion for next spring; in contrast with the stiff, boxy women's silhouettes that have been so prevalent lately. The trick with wearing this style without looking too Belle de Jour is to pair it with quirky accessories such as chunky boots, urban bags or a masculine jacket in tougher, more restrained materials like leather or canvas. Céline's styling is an example of how to achieve an unflappable cool, as is the purity of Raf Simon's scallop-edged bra top and bloomer sets, and those beautiful, sheer organza long dresses.
From the pretty lace red carpet gowns at Valentino and Elie Saab to wearable black-lace-lined white satin slips at Céline, designers are hoping to tap into our inner sex sirens. High fashion glamour pusses are rejoicing at the carefree innocence of Alexander Wang's white ruffled slip dresses for Balenciaga, and the gauzy, voluminous and not particularly sexy sheer nightgowns awkwardly thrown over long tops from Miu Miu - Miuccia Prada always manages to turn a trend on its head and make it entirely her own.
Send in the gowns
Whether it was the stunning beauty of Valentino's tribal collection or the rainbow hues of a more vibrant and energetic Chloé, dresses of the season took a decidedly flowing and unstructured turn.
There was still plenty of ingenious tailoring and some sleek and formal options, but even with red carpet designers such Elie Saab and Giambattista Valli, the relaxed bohemian silhouettes of the '70s reigned supreme. A case in point was Chloé's airy chiffon dresses in rainbow hues, one of the brand's strongest statement pieces of recent seasons.
Alexander McQueen's elegant cascading jellyfish ruffles did wonders for the figure on beautifully crafted, flowing gowns, while the refinement of Valentino's tunic dresses was regal yet employed smooth lines to great effect.
The pleat goes on
Designers in Paris are having a love affair with pleats, offering styles ranging from nerdy cool to lively movement. This mood also captured the imagination of those at Gucci. Structured pleating in a more rigid form made a play for our attention at Chanel and Sacai.
Chitose Abe of Sacai has long championed this feature and hers are among the most interesting and subversive around. What has become her signature - pleated backs, kilt-like skirts and short pleated peplums - create dynamic volumes around the body, this time using paisley bandana handkerchief fabrics and reinforced lace.
Meanwhile at Chanel's airline-themed show at the Grand Palais, Karl Lagerfeld's bold pleated dresses and skirts slung low on hips made a strong statement with prints and texture. At Stella McCartney, however, the point was even more evident as a dazzling, flowing feature in her colourful collection - easy strapless dresses layered contrasting micro pleats over each other or bold striped fabric.
How to make metallics, futurism and uniform styles tempting and alluring? Try Louis Vuitton jumpsuits for the digital generation, Céline's leathers and work boots or maybe strap on a model à la Rick Owens. Cold, shiny metallic textures were a big hit at Maison Martin Margiela, Chanel and even Loewe.
Silvers, plastics (even see-through plastic wrap pants) and mirrors at Loewe continues to bring an avant-garde cool to the storied Spanish house, this time with a futuristic slant.
Meanwhile, John Galliano's liquid metal sheens and textures on futuristic skirts and cocoon tops were quite beautiful when paired with '60s bouffants and pretty housecoats.
Chanel's aviation silvers, stripes and hard-edged metallic accessories were a nod to travel and innovation. Digital and cosmic prints and fabrics added to the theme. Echoing this was Louis Vuitton's spring-summer 2016 collection, although Nicolas Ghesquière peppered it with S&M leather accents. Sculptural dresses employed gel-like materials to dazzling effect, perfect for a new age.