This roller-coaster month of fashion weeks finally ended in Paris. It saw seismic shifts in the industry and an array of design themes pervading the runways in all four of the major fashion destinations. New York was dominated by news of designers, including Ralph Lauren and Tom Ford, moving to a see-now, buy-now production model. Many London designers bucked the city’s reputation for tough, street-inspired wear in favour of all that is girly, ruffled and feminine, along with deconstructed shirting and silver accents (also seen on fashion folk in audiences). Milan showed a penchant for techno sporty looks, ruffles, hippy Americana, fun tropical motifs and pleating.
Paris showcased many of the season’s trends in their most creative iterations. A series of new designers helmed big brands – see Maria Grazia Chiuri at Christian Dior, Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent and Bouchra Jarrar at Lanvin – manifesting their own aesthetic ideals while interpreting the brands’ storied house codes. Girl power was palpable – women designers were having their moment in the City of Light, with more of them than ever leading top brands and creating relatable ways of dressing for women. Here are eight of the big runway trends from the French capital:
1 PRETTY IN PINKS Ranging from shocking to soft and feminine, pink was everywhere. This range of hues shook off its saccharine reputation to find itself in settings as varied as Rihanna’s new Fenty x Puma collaboration (dressed in sexy sportswear and pearls), Hermès’ lady-like minimal chic and Valentino’s stunning spring-summer offering by Pierpaolo Piccioli. It was bright and positive at Chanel, came with an edge at Haider Ackermann and veered from pink into purples at Nina Ricci.
2 EXAGGERATED SLEEVES Long, wide and trailing almost to the knees, exaggerated sleeves are a key feature in current collections, from puffy arms to flared wrists, and at Ellery and Sacai straps and hems trailed from the sleeve to provide dramatic movement. Puffed and flared antique sleeves reigned at Alexander McQueen, Isabel Marant, Giambattista Valli and Dries Van Noten. Even Chanel’s jacket sleeves were elongated and relaxed. At Loewe they found their most beautiful and elegant expression, trailing long and languid on outfits. Just be extra careful at the dinner table.
3 THE 80S SILHOUETTE Like it or not, the 80s silhouette is back with a vengeance on suiting and tailored outfits – even silky and frilled shirts. The caricature of broad power shoulders and wide sleeves tapering to a slimmer waist and leg cannot be denied in its influence on almost every designer in Paris, notably at Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Céline, Acne, Ellery, Kenzo, Dries Van Noten, Chanel, Stella McCartney and Isabel Marant. That’s right, ladies, there really is no escaping this one.
4 TIES, STRAPS AND BUCKLE FASTENERS “Tie me up and tie me down,” said the clothes on French runways this season, in a continuation of the trend from other cities. It’s become a popular design tool for sprucing up an outfit to make it more fashion forward and tap the bigger trend for “undone” fashion. Dior’s sporty turn had clever straps on padded fencing vests; Sacai, Carven and Maison Martin Margiela had buckles everywhere; Chloé had thick tied shoulder straps holding up outfits; at Sonia Rykiel and Ellery models had straps undone and trailing behind them.
5 SHEERS AND SEE-THROUGH Has the “Free the Nipple” movement taken over fashion? There were so many sheer tops, bodices and bralets you began to feel sorry for all those photo retouchers working fastidiously away before runway images could be used in print. Of course, in reality you’d just don a pretty bra. The lightness and transparency of wispy tulle, thin organza and chiffons, and revealing laces were headline-making in Paris – not just on tops
but skirts and dresses, too. See exquisitely embroidered, ballet-inspired dresses at Dior and featherweight gowns at Valentino and Lanvin; or Alexander McQueen and Giambattista Valli’s ruffled creations. Carven did lacy, sheer tops, and Céline, flowy skirts. Go on, flash some skin.
6 UTILITY – BIG POCKETS, DENIMS AND WORKWEAR-INSPIRED Utility workwear has been a pervading influence on women’s fashion for some seasons now. Hardy denim proved popular and oversized pockets appeared all over jackets, shirts, trousers and a jumpsuit cut loose like a mechanic’s coverall. Look to Hermès, Sacai, Givenchy and Stella McCartney, who does it so cleverly, showing that the new trouser shape for women has voluminous and roomy legs, but is gathered small and high at the waist.
7 DRAWSTRINGS, VOLUME AND PARACHUTE DRESSING Work this trend carefully or run the risk of looking like a sack of potatoes. Done well, it’s sporty, chic and quite avant garde. Céline, Stella McCartney and Kenzo had voluminous shapes, draped in light fabrics pulled together with drawstrings. Margiela’s backpack tops had elastic toggles pulling ruched fabrics together in a fun and clever way.
8 BOLD STATEMENT METALLICS Adding extra shine to collections were metallic details, accents and tones. Alexander McQueen’s metallic jewellery on corset tops was stellar, as were golden thread embroideries at Dior. Balmain went with shiny, lurex and glittering gold and silver on bodycon outfits. Elie Saab liberally employed sequins and Haider Ackermann and Kenzo did shiny jewel tones.