Following on from PART 1 of our Paris Fashion Week roundup, here’s our review from some of our favourite fashion designers; Céline, Balmain, ACNE, Margiela, Rick Owens and more.
At Céline and Balmain, animal prints were presented with a similar luxurious subtlety as at Givenchy. Céline’s Phoebe Philo worked the prints into a collection that was beautifully restrained, with a palette of black, grey, cream and camel, woven into which were a muted leopard print, hints of enlarged gingham and textiles like feathered wool and Astrakhan. Balmain’s collection was a much more clear reference to safari, with riffs on safari suits and camo colours, amidst abstracted zebra and leopard print. Zebra print also made an appearance at Acne Studios, in a collection that seemed to also draw on the safari influence, with a nod to Yves Saint Laurent’s famous collection in the Seventies. This retro inspiration was clear in the swirling print patterns, the candied colour palette and wide-legged trousers. This Seventies influence was as potent as ever in the actual Saint Laurent collection, with Hedi Slimane’s ongoing tribute to glam rock androgyny helped along by Alex Turner and Miles Kane sipping champagne in the front row. From the fur and sparkles, to the miniskirts and floppy hats, amidst prints of paisley and plaid, this was a veritable feast of retro style and it is testament to Slimane’s electric modernity and eye for youth that the references didn’t feel tired.
Vivienne Westwood’s collection was a true celebration of her label, possessing much more impact than her relatively tame Red Label show in London the other week. This show exploded in colour and print, combining label signatures of silhouette and shape with a youthful, almost riotous energy. At Maison Martin Margiela, there was a similar sense of heritage and label hallmarks, but here these were in the treatment of tweed, merged with the silhouettes and tailoring upon which Margiela made its name. The result was an incredibly beautiful and subtle collection that was at once feminine and finely detailed, yet effortless and utterly wearable.
At the opposite end of the spectrum to the candy colours, decorative detailing and concept prints of labels like Chanel and Kenzo, some collections offered the avant-garde minimalism that has been central to Paris since the arrival of the Japanese designers to the city in the 1980s. Rick Owens, who has made this kind of punky minimalism a hallmark all of his own, delivered looks in total blocks of either black, oxblood or grey. The shapes were oversized and, again, biomorphic, with curvilinear sleeves and shell-like drapery. Pleats and variations of textile allowed for a considered experimentation, fully expressing Owens’ unique and intelligent eye. Gareth Pugh’s collection was in a vein that was at once similar, and entirely different. Whilst minimalist in terms of being rendered entirely in white and silver, this collection was extravagant in silhouette and cut, with Pugh’s tailoring of a breathtaking standard. Consistently eye-catching, he continues to push his label forward with intricate detailing. Rei Kawakubo’s collection for Comme des Garçons was again a pushing of the boundaries of fashion, in line with her desire to make ‘objects of the body’ as declared last season. The result was in biomorphic, tubular knits that hung like literal sculptures , protruding from the body.
In terms of the influence of the Paris shows, it will surely be the clever treatment of colour and print that filters into the mainstream; the broken animal prints, the neon inserts, the ongoing block-colouring filtered through pleats and trouser-suits. With your local supermarket and McDonald’s now firmly absorbed into the fashion domain, perhaps the industry’s influence will be more pervasive than ever.
Words by Will Ballantyne-Reid