Paris is the city of fashion climbing; an abyss of treasured luxury and romantic escapades through the Galéries Lafayette to the Champs Elysées, up to the Arc de Triomphe. It is where, during the ten days that mark fashion week, the cashiers at Carrefour ask which of the shows were your favorite. Meanwhile, aspiring designers and creative geniuses gather round the cafes on Montparnasse and discuss the season’s trends and catch up on the changes going on behind the closed doors of Chanel and Valentino. Ceci, c’est Paris.
Paris fashion week ended only a couple of days ago, and many designers are already prepping for the next season. Between the economic and political unrest that has been shaking up the city of lights, and with the passing of the Chanel’s creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, we saw everything from dreamy silhouettes resembling angels sent down from heaven, to futuristic designs, reflective of the post-apocalyptic worlds that artists obsess over.
Our top ten list this season illustrates current fashion as both classic and forward-looking; capable of both revival and compelling innovations. A stunning team of talented designers and visionaries lead Paris fashion week through a wonderland of masterful tailoring, dramatic gowns, and uplifting colors, paining a surrealistic narrative of heaven sent luxury masquerading at times as dark glamour and others as a daring adventure.
Where could we begin if not with the late Karl Lagerfeld’s last runway show, marking the end of the creative genius’s 35-year-reign at the Chanel house. The lineup for the show took place in a a charming structure of snow-swept rooftops made up in a Swiss village. Some of Lagerfeld’s muses throughout the years, including a stunning finale from singer and actress, Penelope Cruz appeared from the “Chalet Gardenia” in winter wonderland whites. Opening this serene, if not mesmerizing show was a moment of silence, in honor of the passing of Lagerfeld, which included an audio recording of the designer himself. In this tone of respect and serenity, the show began with Cara Delevingne introducing Lagerfeld’s signature tweeds, followed by an array of whites, camellias and checkered patterns.
Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya
Tommy Hilfiger’s collaboration with 22-year-old actress, singer and model, Zendaya for his Spring 2019 TommyNow collection was an outspoken demonstration of social activism, speaking in favor of acceptance. The funky, flashy “see now, buy now” show was a celebration of age, size, color, and culture with models sauntering down the runway, infecting us all with joy and awareness of the need for fashion to push further to include everyone and be accessible to everyone, regardless of financial income.
Sarah Burton’s collection was like watching a serene, bourgeois parade of artful classicism infused with British technique. The creative director’s childhood memories became her inspiration. She fused her love for nature as a form of escapism with the world that she identifies as home, marking the pieces with a fabric label reading “Made in England.” The designer experimented with elegant tailoring, asymmetric silhouettes and a variety of fabrics between lace and embroidery, making for an exquisite collection. Highlights included silvery embroidery of sequins, referencing British mills and full shirt dresses inspired by the Brontes and Spring rose festivals. Burton’s puffed sleeves, knitted dresses and intricate hems was a lavish expression of wonder and fantasy that was a reflection of the designer’s talent as a masterful couturier.
Together, avant-gardists, An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx created a countryside scene…without the countryside. The feminine, free spirited, strolling-amongst-the-wildflowers sort of gal was captured beautifully with relaxed trousers of soft brown, loose shirts of purples and reds, and chunky, printed heels. The collection was at the same time futuristic and subversive of convention with photographs being taken of models, in Sebring’s New York studio, being recorded leaping in the air in all directions, with the essence of movement and high tech speed being strikingly captured. With emotion and creativity lying at the heart of the designer’s vision this idea of the capturing of movement through film made for a poetic and romantic, but also an innovative show that stamped the style of the signature label.
Stimulating empowerment for women has been a driving force behind Stella McCartney’s collections the past few seasons. Her designs speak to politics, animals and the environment, and gender issues all around, demonstrating her lifelong passion to bring luxury fashion and societal debates together. The designer’s sustainability ethics illustrates her confidence and speaks to her knowledge of the matters. On the runway this season she highlighted her ethos by utilizing upcycled garments such as a T-Shirt dresses and even reused fabric remnants from her previous collections. Her collection was not bold nor did it make a statement, but rather claimed elegance, and high quality with coats of fake fur and leather, as well as a palette of soft pinks and yellows, juxtaposed with neutrals – blacks, browns, and grays.
“I think of poetry as something that is still beautiful, but it can be contemporary as well,” Valentino’s creative director, Roman designer Pierpaolo Piccioli said during a preview for his Fall 2019 RTW collection. The Movement for the Emancipation for Poetry, a romantic movement belonging to the past created a romantic mood for the designer. His focus this season was to introduce couture to ready to wear, thus modernizing the style and making it more appealing to a younger generation. The designs were glorious with a shortened haute couture coat of orange feathers, a turtleneck mini dress with delicately sewn in roses. The romantic shapes created the classiness we relate to red carpet glamour, while the black suits and long skirts made for a breathtaking spout of freshness that made for a stunning show.
Anthony Vaccarello’s Ready-To-Wear Fall 2019 collection for Saint Laurent during Paris Fashion Week made an underground rave, illuminated by flashing lights and infinity mirrors, with models gliding down the runway in a gleaming patch of fluorescence. The designer focused on a straight silhouette – a ‘power’ motif that offered masculinity to tuxedo jumpsuits, straight-lined blazers, and padded shoulders. Vaccarello, famous for his minidress ensembles, did not disappoint, with a red, oversized piece capturing our attention – velvet bow in blood red, while another satin mini dress was a classic black paired with polka dot stockings.
The mythic Parisian was Demna Gvasalia’s muse this season, creating a narrative of “the real Parisian of today.” In a dark setting of tar-smelling asphalt and dim light, models briskly sauntered past observers in vibrant, daring clothing of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s signature shapes: cocoons, baby dolls, waist-hugging fits. The Parisian theme took a dark turn with garments representing the culture through French history: from the elegance of the fifties and sixties to patters and prints that alluded to daily activities such as grocery shopping, commuting via métro as well as after-work shenanigans.
The Jardin des Plantes held Givenchy’s fantastical “Winter of Eden” – themed show. Designer Clare Waiter Keller was aspired to the concept of “When aristocracy started to meet street culture.” In context, this mean for a London club-like setting, off put by classically serene bourgeois garments. Many of the looks seemed to want to snd cross a message of female empowerment: sculpted silhouettes, belted waists, vibrant pantsuits, crystal-encrusted cuffs. The collection was an assortment of stiff tailoring, puffer jackets, turtlenecks of silk, and classic satin lapels. The evening looks were sent in a couture-like style with neutral blues, blacks and grays with shapely sleeves and flowing hems, not to mention the reiteration of the classic little black dress.
Comme des Garçons
This season, Rei Kawakubo “fumbled around in the dark” to create a truly abstract, if not, an overshadowed and cryptic Fall 2019 collection. Her designs are meant to reflect the state of the world: riotous, warlike, disquieting – inconsistent. Yet, masquerading to “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” The designer’s innovative vision resulted in high glamour with a Marie Antoinette vibe. This meant for warrior-like hoods, mixes of materials, gothic puffs and ruffles, and Victorian0inspired dresses with floral patterns. The finale was especially disconcerting with models strangely tilting their heads up to the light above, uniting in a tight circle.