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The best of Paris Fashion Week

And that’s all folks, Paris fashion week is over and wasn’t it amazing? Here’s a review of the best the city of romance had to offer:

Alexander McQueen


See a full report: here

Chanel


See a full report: here

Balmain


If you’ve been shopping recently you can see the effects of Balmania everywhere, you can’t move for a shoulder pad and those sequin body-con dresses are sitting tight in every high street window. Having carved such a strong and signature look for the last two seasons, where was Decarnin going to go next?

“It’s warrior women and the military with a mix of different times and a touch of Mad Max,” the designer told the International Herald Tribune, concisely summing up the metal mesh dresses, medallion-dotted military blazers, vests and T-shirts with rips and holes in them as though the models had been caught in a crossfire, and sequin carnage camouflage overlays.

I couldn’t help thinking though that Balmain were paying homage to themselves by creating a collection similar to the last two popular seasons; we’ve already seen the military jacket’s and the studded dresses. Obviously, I thought this collection was amazing, I think Balmain are amazing, but perhaps this was just because I’d already seen and adored this collection twice before.

Gareth Pugh

See a full report: here

Hussein Chalayan

Hilary Alexander wrote of Chalayan’s collection: “Navy and white were key in a collection which evoked the Côte d’Azur of the Fifties”. I felt this best summerised a collection which was made for some resort in Deauville or Havana, or any other playground of the rich and idle in the Fifties.

Accompanied by the Italian rumba band, Farniente (which translates to “doing nothing”), Chalayan proceeded to describe the meaning behind each outfit, his concept was the fact that idleness has replaced the ancient tenets of a religious society, I don’t really agree but each to their own and Hussein Chalayan is amazing.

The collection itself began with tailored short suits which had dramatically cutaway sides, and were accessorised with swimming hats and sci-fi sunglasses propped on top like goggles. There was black or white column dresses with circles cut out of the back, which had a sophisticated elegance, and came with wide-brimmed matching hats.

The beautiful jersey dresses had wide, shiny belts and high leg splits and seemed more Chalayan-esque, especially when they featured fake pointed (removable), breasts beneath. Blue and white striped versions had Riviera elegance but then neoprene jackets and bodices with floaty chiffon sleeves and floor-length skirts were a consummate example of Chalayan’s combination of scientific interest with his designer vision.

White goddess gowns, in stretch jersey, featured hands in fabric or plastic, clasping the halter-neck straps, perhaps underlying the grip materialism has on life in the 21st century.

Lanvin


Alber Elbaz presented, what must surely be, his finest collection with what he calls the “new minimalist” look.

The show opened with a black dress boasting a huge ruffle around one shoulder and cinched in at the waist, this was followed by beautifully shaped Tuxedo dresses that were styled with a single black glove. Strapless minis were drawn in at the back to produce a vertical spine of fabric, while taffeta dresses of red and rose pink had a single puffed shoulder and fell in plump swathes from nude under slips. However, nude and black silk dresses and jump suits were the most elegant, single-shouldered offerings of all.

The finale of heavily embellished jumpsuits and dresses (and one show-stopping pair of liquid gold trousers) was an appropriate celebratory end to a show that celebrated a sophisticated female form.

Louis Vuitton


Marc Jacob’s geek chic collection for Louis Vuitton was a melting pot of travellers, hikers, skate kids, dolls and cartoons, with an overall sporty mix of cycling shorts, backpacks and bum bags. Girl after girl travelled down the catwalk wearing gigantic fluffy afro wigs of every colour but throughout the course of this ugly duckling show, the models slowly transformed into enviably sassy and totally original stylistic statements: unconventionally, uniquely cool.

I did like this collection but I think it was just too busy for me, I like my designs to be sleek and the clash of so many colours made it hard for me to actually see the designs, hey, I like my colours to be basic.

Little mini dresses (everything came above the knee) were made with panels of sparkly pink, green or blue brocades. Strips of denim there were tasseled and beaded to match the fur and bauble-strewn accessories of the huge rucksack bags and sandals they were worn with.

Sporty white mesh dresses were woven with neon laces or blue tie-dyed ribbons, with a touch of lamé in gorgeous cropped jackets, with drawstring waistbands or glittering hot pant-aloons, added glamour.
Vogue wrote that they were “pleased to see a younger Vuitton girl after the sex kittens of autumn/winter and the tribal-inspired glamazons of spring/summer 2009, it made us start gossiping immediately about who he’s planning to pick for the ad campaign.

Mui Mui


Fashion may well be fascinated with all things Eighties right now but Miuccia Prada has her sartorial interests vested in the Seventies which, today, proved part inspiration for the designer’s Mui Mui collection.

“It is fresh – about how innocence can survive in this world,” explained the designer to the International Herald Tribune. And so cat, daisy, puppy and swallow prints playfully adorned super-cropped jackets and boleros that barely covered breasts beneath (though the models were wearing shirts of contrasting cute print), narrow-leg trousers stopping just shy of the ankles – which were gripped with golden daisy or raspberry bird print boots – and sweet pleated school skirts. The palette was of midnight magic in soft shades of pale lilac, pink, black, indigo and later tan, beige and gold.

There was something youthful and innocent about this collection; Jean Shrimpton lashes and long tousled braided hair made for Miu Miu’s Lolita girls, who stepped out in beautifully high and stacked platform Mary Janes in golden yellow, baby blue and bright cerise.

Sonia Rykiel


Last week fashion was busy getting excited over the prospect of Sonia Rykiel bringing her sassy Parisian chic to the shores of Britain via a new collaboration with high street giant H&M, this week the industry is excited by the prospect of Rykiel’s spring/ summer 2010 collection.

Models danced, yes danced, their way down the catwalk in long length padded gilets, belted at the waist, transforming them into the chicest of outdoor attire; in sheer black stockings andquilted turquoise brassieres with matching French knickers and sugarplum pink sheer shirts.

They pranced in bobbly woven cardigans and in neat little blazer and skirt suits; in dinky striped tops in shades of yellow and blue and cerise; and in transparent shiny macs with emblazoned “SR” bodies beneath.

And they jived in silky pajama suits splashed in cornflower blue; star-dotted sheer chemises (that showed off big knickers beneath), gathered at the waist and cut away at the cleavage; and Forties tea dresses with falling flowers wafting about their skirts.

Oh, what fun it is to be a Rykiel girl.

Paris Fashion Week – Gareth Pugh

I’ve loved Gareth Pugh for several years now and have watched him as he’s gained the fashion industry’s attention: gaining popularity at London Fashion Week with his abstract and body altering collections, being transferred to Paris Fashion Week, gaining press attention through celebrities wearing his designs (Roisin Murphey, Kylie, Beyonce and Rihanna to name a few), his first menswear collection, LVMH confirming they’re responsible for financially backing his shows. So, I was exciting to see what this designer would dream up for his Spring / Summer 2010 collection.

With a front row that boasted Rihanna (she couldn’t stop declaring how she “loved it”), Terence Koh, Mario Testino, Michael Stipe and Daphne Guinness, what was once a certain type of clientale/fanbase for Pugh has surely expanded somewhat and this collection is yet another milestone in Pugh’s establishment in Paris.

The film that Gareth Pugh debuted at an installation during New York Fashion Week was supposed to be a precursor to the newest collection and whilst it got the mood and the colours spot on, you would not have been able to guess the sort of shape shifting that Pugh would show in Paris, a collection that moved in a new direction, veering away from the menacing looks the designer favours for a more wearable wardrobe.

Cue the trench coat that was the opener for the collection, thickly belted and boasting layers of skirt beneath it. Next, there were jackets corseted into shape by zips, dresses that streamlined the body into place with black semi-circular panels at the flanks and a palette of grey (from dove to slate, and often doubled up together).

Overall, this collection was far softer than anything Pugh has created before; the shapes flowed, as opposed to previous collections where designs were more restrictive. Models floated down the runway in their softer fabrics, where before they appeared to be stomping out for war. They were styled with red smudged eyes that looked like they hadn’t slept, and wore grey hair bands that matched their clothes and came out as a dark serenity.

I was disappointed to see the same dress (pretty much) that he designed for Spring / Summer 2009 – see the pictures to the right for comparison. And the use of the same tessellating triangle shapes. Similarly, the menswear collection toyed with the same shape vocabulary as previous collections with perhaps a bigger emphasis on structure. I hope he doesn’t think to repeat this style again or the fashion industry will get bored and lose its’ dark side.

First look at Alexander McQueen – Part 2

Here’s the first images of Alexander McQueen’s spring/summer 2010 collection, that has just been streamed live on AlexanderMcQueen.com

Apologies for the poor quality, they’re just print screens, obviously I’ll do a full report when the official images are released.

The live stream began at 7:30 with a pre-recorded interview from Alexander “Lee” McQueen. In the half hour discussion he commented on how his collections had never been about “an image in a magazine” or made to sell; they had always been about this moment in time and the relevance to what is going on around him. He believes that this helps break down barriers between fashion and the public.

He then went on to discuss fashion as a form of entertainment which is not just a commercial platform to sell, this, he said, “is what keeps me interested in fashion. It’s what motivates me”. He explained how he liked turning this “illusion” in his mind into something physical.

When asked about his frequent use of the macabre and his darker aesthetic McQueen just shrugged and explained, “death is a part of everyday life”.

The latest spring/ summer collection is based on the idea of Atlantis which, he explained, was no different in his mind then the idea of Netherland, an imaginary place in which to escape to.

The show began around 8pm (UK) and the runway was lit up and two camera’s on either side of the platform came to life (oddly, reminding me of McQueen for Givenchy, the car paint spray gun.) The backdrop showed a naked Kate Moss writing around, obviously attempting to recreate Botticelli’s Venus, in shades of blues and greens.

The collection was just stunning, in a range of blues, green, blacks, silvers. Obviously what caught my eye were those shoes. I mean, wow. Those poor models stretched onto their tiptoes as they elegantly strolled down the runway.

Unfortunately, with the amount of people viewing the show, the live stream began to break up so much it was unwatchable. I’ll write a full review when the complete show is put online.

Paris Fashion Week – Chanel’s romp in the hay

This year’s Paris Fashion Week has been a-mazing, there’s been so many designers that I want to comment on that I’ve hardly been able to keep up. When it finishes I’ll do a blog with a breakdown on the best and worst (ahem, Lindsay Lohan for Ungaro).

For now, I’m slightly in love with Chanel. I know it’s horribly cliché to love Chanel but you just can’t help it; that Lagerfeld, he’s a genius.

At London Fashion Week Christopher Kane’s collection was described by Vogue as “deliciously pretty milkmaids”, last week at Milan Fashion Week D&G teased us with country style but, of course, these collections looked like warm up acts in comparison to Chanel’s surreal runway.

Karl Lagerfeld’s dreamlike show for Chanel included a custom-built Chanel barn (a reconstruction of the Hameau de la Reine, Marie Antoinette’s play farm at Versailles), with models emerging from between hay bales, three models frolicking in the hay…and obviously a turn by new face of Cocoon Chanel, Lily Allen.

Citing Marie Antoinette’s shepherdess phase as an influence, designer Karl Lagerfeld used the country-chic theme and designed woven bags with appliqué flowers, the raw-edged tweed that is the label’s signature and milkmaid-style high-heeled clogs, which may see a comeback for spring/summer 2010 as they were the dominant shoe for both the Chanel and Celine collections.

When asked about his inspiration, after the show, Lagerfeld told reporters: “I’m from the country, darling.”

“I hear all this talk about organic farming and the environment and things, and I’m all for it. But there must be a certain sophistication, so it’s not used as an excuse to let things go to seed,” he said.

Personally, I think the collection is cute, however it seems to have received mixed reviews, Jess Cartner-Morley of The Guardian wrote the collection was “more Carry On Up the Farm than Avenue Montaigne chic” and that the shape of the dirndl dresses “made even the skinniest of models look a little lumpy”

However, Chanel’s version of a roll in the hay was a pretty stylish affair and the collection was much softer than last season. The collection had black and white silk ribbons that were woven into tweed jackets with ragged edges, pale tan patchwork suede skirts and fluffy woven chiffon jackets that featured a touch of sparkle at the edge – and carried random strands of straw with them.

There were broderie anglaise jackets, which puffed at the shoulder and over the hips, and rusty orange wool suits with bronze buttons all down each arm. While miniskirts gave party dresses a flirty edge and the occasional Quaker-style headscarf reiterated the theme – though models pretended to use their Blackberries on their way around the barn as if to prove that these clothes were meant for the modern day.

Suddenly, Lily Allen burst through a trapdoor on to a catwalk and began singing her hit “Not Fair”; Allen looked lovely in her gold and black Chanel sequins and did a rather good job of proving that Chanel doesn’t only suit model figures.

Finally, Lara Stone appeared as the Chanel bride with a chiffon veil and two grooms (one of which I think was Baptiste Giabiconi) – all of whom fell upon each other in the hay as Karl walked past to bow.

First look at Alexander McQueen – Part 1

Here’s the first images of Alexander McQueen’s spring/summer 2010 collection, that has just been streamed live on AlexanderMcQueen.com

Apologies for the poor quality, obviously I’ll do a full report when the official images are released.

Read Part 2 for a brief review of the collection.

Paris Fashion Week – The day fashion ended

Many believe that modern fashion began with the rigorous Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga, who subsequently passed on his experience to Emanuel Ungaro. So you’ll be forgiven for coming over faint when you hear that Ungaro is now under the creative directorship of one Lindsay Lohan.

Since the retirement of Emanuel Ungaro the label has languished with a revolving door of designers; Peter Dundas is now at Emilio Pucci, while Giambattista Valli designs a successful label under his own name, but none have succeeded in making Ungaro creditable or profitable. The latest designer, Esteban Cortazar, who was appointed in 2007, was fired after his refusal to work with actress Lindsay Lohan.

Lohan was offered the appointment by Ungaro’s president and CEO, Mounir Moufarrige, the same man who slotted a certain pop star’s daughter into the top job at Chloé a decade ago, replacing Karl Lagerfeld. Subsequently, Lohan was appointed Artistic Director, working with new head designer Estrella Archs, a veteran of the Prada, Hussein Chalayan and Nina Ricci design studios, who was hired hastily to replace Cortazar.

As a show it was underwhelming and, even though they had only three weeks to put it together, I think perhaps they should have waited until next season. Visitors to the Emanuel Ungaro studio during the hectic last days of preparations for this collection noticed that while Archs put the finishing touches to the clothes, Lohan was nowhere to be seen. Not that Lohan was neglecting her duties: she was to be found on Twitter, fulfilling her role by inviting celebrity friends such as Lily Allen to the show.

Well, how to make an impression the first time you are let loose on a Parisian catwalk? Sequinned nipple stickers should do it.

Swathed in shocking pink, the room in the Carousel du Louvre bore little, if any, resemblance to the shows Emanuel Ungaro himself used to put on.

Of course it was a label famed for its colour and there was plenty of that: a pink strapless mini dress wrapped in fuchsia chiffon for a start, but the initial hope was very quickly dashed by ruched chiffon trousers in bright blue or orange worn with silk collarless matching blouses and billowing pink genie pants with wide, gathered waistbands below scarlet bra tops.

It was fun, maybe, for LA girls wanting plenty of ideas in their wardrobe to cover several parties a night, every night: one-shouldered white ones, sparkly, tight striped ones, flowing peach chiffon ones – but it didn’t go much beyond that.

Leather jackets with swatches cut out to show a sparkly inner layer gave a bit of bling, while black tuxedo jackets whose lapels were two halves of a red sequined heart injected some humour to the collection and bulging fur stoles thrown over one shoulder signaled that if not exactly chic, these girls were certainly rich.

Ungaro is a house deserving of the respect it once held and Spanish designer Estrella Archs, brought in just weeks ago to replace her successor, would do well to dress more than just Lohan-a-likes. My absolute detest of “celebrities” entering the fashion industry doesn’t blind me to the fact that this was probably a shrewd business move. Obviously, for the first time in several years, Ungaro will get written up everywhere. Is this enough to sustain a venerable French house? Of course not.