As the final week of Fashion Month after stops in New York, London and Milan, Paris knows how to end on the chicest of notes. Showcasing coveted fashion trends for the future in the city of light, Paris Fashion Week Ready- to-Wear Fall-Winter 2015-16 collections highlighted what Parisians and fashion connoisseurs alike should be expecting once the cold front hits again later this year.
Everyone in the fashion industry was talking about one name in particular this week: Guillaume Henry. The head creative director of Nina Ricci, who has previous experience leading other French fashion houses such as Oscar de la Renta and Carven, showed a strong collection that managed to emphasize simple shapes and neutral colors while keeping true to Nina Ricci’s romanticism.
Simplistic chic was not in the details for Nina Ricci as long fringe swung from the back of brown and navy tops and jackets and wispy wing-like appliqués fluttered from silk slip dresses. Sequined t-shirt dresses and white coats highlighted a theme of a casual evening with sophisticated day dressing. Navy and black color-block on an oversized fisherman knit sweater also showed, judging from the wide-eyed fashion editors in the front row, that Nina Ricci was in fact ready-to-wear, Parisian style made practical.
Jonny Johansson’s show for Acne Studios contained nothing but patchwork and exposed seams and stitching. Toggles on shearling coats and bright, eye-catching buttons ranging from cobalt to reddish-orange on jackets and dresses were in the details for the luxury house based in Stockholm, Sweden. Acne Studios proved that leather and menswear fabric could live harmoniously on a single jacket that perfected street-wise fashion. Flannel and cinched waists were also on trend alongside slashes and mesh insets within more structured sheath dresses and outerwear that added subliminal sex appeal to otherwise forward skintight leather pants and completely sheer t-shirts. In diversifying their aesthetic by reinventing their foundation of denim-based street collections, Acne is seemingly struggling to bridge the gap between chic and understandable that will translate well to their clientele off the runways and in stores.
With Alexander Wang at the helm, Balenciaga was a tale of two cities, merging the tough black-and-white urban motifs from New York City with that of lady-like, classic structures of Paris. Resulting in an ideal combination of the two differing styles from America and Europe, Balenciaga twisted the traditional with the use of belts replacing collars or anchoring backs of backless tops. The 1960s off duty style was reminiscent on the runway as Wang paired jeweled flats with stiff coats and skinny cropped pants. Balenciaga managed to stamp Manhattan over their Parisian showcase when androgyny hinted at stylish office attire as crisp, white shirts and wool tweed pencil skirts featuring single, soft strips of blue, pink, and green were put with fur-trimmed pointed-toes and full, striped scarves. A hit for sure, Wang has set the tone that balanced the old with the new at Balenciaga.
The cool Isabel Marant, who always manages to serve up the most effortless of Parisian fashion inspiration. Nothing was amiss at Marant as she continued her noted vaguely ethnic and traditional concepts over military accents of leather and structured jackets. Skinny white jeans with paper bag-like belted waists and sailor-esque button fronts boasted leather boots clad in buckles and tucked in tight ivory cable knits. Patterned pants and jackets were placed over well-made, luxurious sweaters in shades of grey and oatmeal that honestly, weren’t anything new and exotic from the French female designer, but still lured even the highest of fashion critics, as a beautiful fisherman knit is nothing to ignore. Flirty mini skirts emphasized cinched waists, sailor striped tops and ikat prints in shades of cool blue that wasn’t anything revolutionary for the designer, yet still hit the mark and screamed “chic.”
Sensory overload and artistic tendencies stretched the imagination at Christian Dior to create one of the most thought-provoking shows of the entire week. Distorted and abstract animal prints were donned under long, cashmere coats in a way that was almost otherworldly. Basic silhouettes remained the theme at Dior with tunics and long-sleeved tops over body hugging pencil skirts. Mesh pieces and pastel hues shined with wild animal prints of snake and leopard, amongst others, as Dior continued to offer something slightly different, yet still feminine, with each look that came down the runway. Undoubtedly, outerwear was the highlight of the collection, with coats, jackets, and blazers varying in eye-catching colors and textures. Femininity and masculinity clashed in the most perfect of ways at Dior as loose suits skirted down in bright colors and shiny, patent leather, heeled boots that redefined skintight. A natural sex appeal underlined the entire collection of animalia dresses and body suits, even though the models didn’t show nudity like in various other shows earlier in the week. In one the most exciting collections from Paris, Dior reaffirmed what fashion design is all about; pushing the limits to give way to an aesthetically-pleasing explosion of print and color that had the industry abuzz.
On a note of classic femininity, Elie Saab also struck glamour with inflections of fern green, royal blue, muted turquoise, fire red and daring black. Interspersed with fur accents, printed fabrics and flowing silk, lace gowns that highlighted sheer assets, plunging necklines, and cutouts, Saab made it clear why the world’s elite wear his designs. At only 28 years old, the young Olivier Rousteing continued to revolutionize Balmain’s fashion presence with unapologetically sexy cuts, mesh inserts and lurex caged dresses that showed skin and asserted what “power dressing” truly is, assumedly much to Kim and Kanye’s approval, who are close friends of the designer.
Lanvin harped on a more bohemian-meets-military tone that somehow managed to work tassels, embroidery, pattern, fringe, fur, leather and texture all at once to give way to a cosmopolitan bondage vibe in some looks. Creative director of Lanvin Alber Elbaz stayed true to long lengths throughout the showing, once again affirming sweeping, dramatic styles that add to his already prolific range of pieces. Céline was all about pops of color within neutral palettes that accentuated pocket placement on one’s ensemble, ranging from leather body harnesses to front of sweaters. Like Dior, animalistic prints were also seen at Céline in the form of foxes, ferrets, and bunnies on button down shirts, much to the irony of the fur-lined and deconstructed coats that were coming down the runway. It isn’t Paris Fashion Week, however, without mentioning Chloé and Kenzo, who both had strongly iconic showings that remained genuine to both brands.
The most memorable collections though, go to none other than Comme des Garçons and Vivienne Westwood, who managed to make their pieces unforgettable, no matter how hard we might try. Creativity shined through on the runway of Comme des Garçons as all rules were broken by the eccentric and strange cocooned monsters that waltzed along the Westin Hotel ballroom. Similarly confusing, 73-year-old British designer Vivienne Westwood struggled to convey much understanding to onlookers as she took punk and androgyny to a whole new level by breaking the gender binary and clothing men in women’s fashions, towering top hats, and ridiculous hair and makeup.
Although some collections were truly more ready-to- wear than others, Paris Fashion Week still managed to successfully show us what we will all be wearing in seven months.
Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons