For her Miu Miu-collection – the collection that closed Paris Fashion Week – Miucca Prada delivered a collection for lovers of real fashion. Fun house and funky fabrics electrocuted silhouettes that seemed inspired by the Sixties. Much of it was chic, a lot was tacky. But that is the tension Prada loves.
A-line swing coats with big collars came in blown-up herringbone plaids trimmed with color-clashing python pockets and borders.
Apron dresses with big plastic buttons and shirts with a wide ruffle around the shoulders expressed the naïveté that came through in the styling. Accessorized with costume floral earrings, necklaces and granny shoes, each look was put together with the enthousiasm of a young, fashion-hungry girl who just blew her allowance at a vintage store.
For his third collection for Louis Vuitton Nicolas Ghesquière opened with outerwear, big puffs of white Argentinian shearling, their edgy polar-bear coziness enhanced with trunklike handbags in silver leather and diamond-cut Plexiglas.
Ghesquière experimented with materials and cuts. Ribbed-knit constructions had an aura of aggressive flirtation, curvy with a horizontal slash above the bust and skirt ending in a structured ripple. Modernist studded embroideries transported similar shapes from day to evening. As for the cuts, stretch jersey dresses sprung from a lingerie inspiration were spliced, inset and zipped. Ghesquière wove in basics, — pantsuits, sweater over miniskirt, red sheer T-shirt and pants. Long ago such looks would have remained in the showroom as the commercial collection. Today, runway to reality seem a small step.
Iris van Herpen titled her fall collection “Hacking Infinity”, inspired by terraforming, or the process of transforming the biosphere of other planets to make them like Earth. The translation was not immediately visible in the clothes.
There were new fabric experiments — a translucent stainless-steel weave and a honeycomblike 3-D handwoven material with frayed edges. Both were introduced in the opening look, a sheer sleeveless top and short skirt. It laid a foundation for the soft vs. hard contrasts that ran through the show and climaxed with an off-the-shoulder bustier jumpsuit with a wide belt of sheer optical lighting film that distorted the waist — a novel way to achieve an hourglass figure.
Among the other showcase pieces were digitally fabricated dresses made from spiky black plastic, created with architect Philip Beesley, and towering shoes sprouting chunky crystals on the soles, a collaboration with Japanese shoe designer Noritaka Tatehana (of Lady Gaga fame).
The Chanel staged looked like Brasserie Gabrielle, a place where the foreign-born proprietor celebrates the innate Franco traditions of diversity, resulting in debate and most of all, style. Guests arrived to the Grand Palais, transformed into a vast brasserie with all polished wood, leather and brass atop an intricate faux-mosaic floor, yet another manifestation of the power-fashion fusion that is Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel.
There were senses of both classic Chanel and classicism upended. Suits, some with blouson jackets, were crafted from puffed squares of paper-thin leather; others, in tweedy plaids, featured skirts with deep bias borders. But Lagerfeld also made a big show of sportif, as in separates, Chanel-style: patterned sweaters and skirts under glittering parkas; sweater, skirt; cardigan layered over classic jacket and jeans; V-neck pullover stretched into a sweater gown.
There was even a riff on workwear: short and long takes on waiters’ aprons (tweed or embroidered; never white) tied on over pants. Into the mix, Lagerfeld incorporated young, fresh trapeze LBDs; frou in black and white; and, in a pret-meets-haute moment, a huge triangle coat in a plain gray wool and jeweled feathers.
The Saint Laurent models who strode out on the catwalk looked like rock stars or rock-star groupies. Their mini crinis, cigarette pants with suspenders, and Siouxsie Sioux eye shadow placed the audience a few years further on from Hedi Slimane’s Sunset Strip-y Spring collection.
Slimane’s Saint Laurent woman is a bad girl, wearing leather leggings with cutouts all the way up the thighs; a black leather dress slit up to her undies, assuming she’s even bothered to wear any; and ripped and shredded tights above black leather ankle boots. The shoes were killer. Alongside the punky rock star stuff there were a good number of the kind of animal-print capes, navy peacoats, leather motorcycle jackets, and patchwork furs.
For fall, Stella McCartney went for pragmatic sensuality, especially as it applies to day clothes.
The result: an engaging sophistication permeated the collection in which she both pushed and relaxed her specific parameters of feminine-masculine plays and deftly manipulated classics. Thick-knit sweater dresses worked on a slant and half open at the side over languid underpinnings bared an arm, a shoulder, a glimpse of leg. Bustiers in lightweight wools delivered discreet allure, matching trousers and long-sleeved shirts.
McCartney loves her Savile Row references and here delivered them with new femininity. Even at her most streamlined, she incorporated ladylike flourish. Mannish tweeds turned a shade gentle but unfussy in coats and dresses cut lean through the waist. The graceful ease continued for evening as McCartney made seemingly casual use of lush metallic jacquards and brocades, incorporating swirling insets into ivory dresses for a sexy effect.
Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy found his inspiration for fall in Victoriana and the Latin toreador. The models had their hair in tight, braided loops with exaggerated curls plastered onto cheeks and foreheads and the wore framing facial jewelry that replicated piercings and tattoos. They looked beautiful and fierce.
On Tisci’s runway the mix resulted in short, trim jackets over sleek pants which transitioned seamlessly to tailcoats, some with peplums or double cutaways; some piped in un-Brit scarlet. The tailoring was sensual but seldom arch, with considerable diversity within the sphere. For example, while most jackets veered sleek, a pair of jeweled stunners featured dropped shoulders and short, cocoon-like sleeves. Dresses came mostly in velvets – cut, printed, crushed – some corseted, some almost medieval in their fluid lines and Byzantine palette.
Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Kenzo were inspired by the forest. Models were dressed in protective ponchos and capes in shadowy blue, deep purple and forest green — some in camouflage-style floral patterns spliced with contrasting stripes. Oversize shearling jackets were slung over pleated chiffon dresses in a nod to the volatile climate that has wrong-footed retailers in recent seasons.
The duo worked two main silhouettes: top-heavy layers over ample skirts and less-cluttered looks that paired structured jackets or draped jerseys with skirts and pants in satin, georgette or fil coupé, reminiscent of kimono fabrics.
Designer Phoebe Philo tried to explore the fine line between the idea of sexuality and sensuality and translated that into the Céline-style. She opened with a sweater with belled cuffs covering the hand over wide pants in what looked like embroidered crocheted lace. The fabric would recur in a jacket over pants and a dress, all chaste of silhouette but revealing of skin via random devoré windows. Philo also did a turn with lingerie, corsets undone and deconstructed over slipdresses and deliberately ill-fitting conical bras. Sweater dresses covered up in front flashed circular, open portholes in back.
Besides that there were shirts in charming animal prints over roomy skirts or loose plunging-neck onesies with polite underpinnings and enormous, colorful totes.
The fall-collection of Comme des Garcons was a mix of elaborate constructions, some soft, some structured, all out there, most in piles, drapes, wraps of laces in whites, blacks, a tinge or two in gold. Ridiculous by standard measure — sure; they always are. But even on Kawakubo’s lofty scale, a wonderment pervaded this collection. With her every choice, her fabrics, her configurations, the way she instructed her models, their points of connection, Kawakubo determined to make the audience feel the beauty and wistfulness of her strangely personal ceremony of loss and progress.