All the takeaways from Paris fashion week
Paris Fashion Week is always something of a rollercoaster, the great shows, the terrible shows, the glamour and the traffic. This time round there were more switchbacks than ever. Some designers chose to make reference to the events unfolding in Ukraine. Others were determinedly focused on the light.
The final leg of fashion month has concluded, and the biggest Paris Fall/Winter 2022 trends have revealed themselves. As the world gradually begins to get back on track, luxury fashion houses have taken to the coveted spaces of the Paris Fashion Week to showcase their collections and ranges with styles and trends that are sure to dominate the ensuing year.
Demna Gvasalia, the Georgian creative director at Balenciaga. He left his country as a refugee at 12 during the civil war of 1993. Recent events had, he said after the show, “triggered the pain of past trauma I have carried in me. Fashion week feels like an absurdity.” He claimed that he had “thought about cancelling the show, but [that would mean] surrendering to the evil that has hurt me for 30 years”.
In one of the most memorable instances of catwalk Demna, who no longer uses his surname created something along the lines of a snow dome, through which inadequately clad models battled against the elements. Some of them clutched giant sacks that called to mind the bin bags carried by those who must take with them what few saved possessions they can. The end results a moving monument to the struggle facing Ukrainian refugees.
His usual touchstones were in place, from the outsize streetwear to the frocks that slink and shrink unexpectedly, by way of dagger-toed heels and assassin-appropriate bodysuits. One of the all-in-ones was in actuality constructed out of yellow and black Balenciaga-branded packing tape
Rihanna at Dior, whose inimitable choice of maternity wear was a sheer black chiffon baby doll nightie. Then there was the appearance on the catwalk of Serena Williams, at an Off-White show conceived as a tribute to its late polymath designer Virgil Abloh, who died in November. Cue more luxed-up streetwear, plus slogans such as “More Life”.
Dior focused on protection, its signature bar jacket retooled with air bags or a heating element designed to regulate your body temperature and originally conceived by a performance-wear brand for use in its “Antarctic Suit”.
Performance wear of yesteryear was the focus at Chanel. Such has been the brand’s success at reinventing tweed as chic that it is easy to forget its origin as protective garb for the hunting, shooting and fishing set. Coco Chanel first fell in love with the fabric in the 1920s when she also fell in love with the Duke of Westminster and spent summers on his Scottish estate.
The latest tweedy two-pieces came in the moorland colours of soft purples, pinks and greens. Virginie Viard, who heads up the house, spoke of how Coco Chanel would “gather ferns and flowers to inspire the local artisans to make the tones she wanted’’.
Pink was the colour of the day at Valentino too, although its iteration was more Pepto than Penicuik. Over half the looks were head-to-toe in a shade that Pantone will be adding to its roster as “Pink PP”, named after Pierpaolo Piccioli, the creative director at Valentino. The rest were all-black. Here was a designer engaging with both the light and the darkness.
Other brands also dealt in opposites, a double-hander that has become a defining feature of the catwalks in recent years. At Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu the mannish was offset with sparkly, drapey femininity. At Stella McCartney big-shouldered suiting was shown alongside fluid frocks that were part 1970s disco-diva, part-Greek goddess.
Loewe AW 2022 collection
Isabel Marant whose brand of cool-girl Parisienne is particularly influential on our high streets toggled between oversize bomber jackets and frocks so small that some might have considered them tops. Chloé juxtaposed textured ponchos that spoke of open country with sharp leather pieces that were more Sex and the City.
No surprise that leather was also the focus at two houses originally built on leather goods. In every other sense the approach at Hermès and Loewe couldn’t have been more different. The French brand that gave the world the Birkin bag kept things predictably classic with its hide trenches and blazers, yet also delivered a side order of raunch in the form of its intarsia leather and suede hotpants and cropped pinafores.
At the Spanish brand Loewe headed up by the Northern Irish designer Jonathan Anderson surrealism was the name of the game. A series of leather minidresses were sculpted into permanent creases as if blown sideways by an endless wind. The satin sheaths had bustiers shaped like giant, glossy pouting lips. At a time when luxury fashion along with so much else seems to make very little sense, there was a strange variety of logic in play.
Coco Chanel was the designer who reinvented as chic a cloth conceived for the hunting, shooting and fishing set. She did so as a result of her relationship with the Duke of Westminster in the 1920s, when she would spend summers at his estate in Scotland.
The new collection was a love letter to that love affair, complete with thigh-high woolly socks, rubber waders and lots and lots of tweed.
Initially the designer would appropriate the duke’s blazers as her own. Vastly outsized as those jackets were on her petite form, she still managed to make them look stylish.
The models wore multi-chain necklaces, some with a pendant that looked suspiciously like a miniature Swiss army knife. Cosy chunky knits appeared cheek by jowl with chilly but cute tweed hot pants.
Louis Vuitton & Stella McCartney
At Louis Vuitton which showed its latest collection under the vast arches of the Musée d’Orsay the pinafore dresses had such capacious pockets they looked more like panniers.
At Stella McCartney on the top floor of the Pompidou Centre the models slouched along with hands tucked within the skirts of a drapey frock or the sharp lines of a diagonally patterned great coat.
Both collections majored on a relaxed contemporaneity leavened with some big shouldered 1980s-style tailoring. At Louis Vuitton matters grew so relaxed that the final looks edged towards grunge, with giant rugby shirts layered over long dresses.
The message from Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuitton’s creative director, would seem to be that this is not only OK but a veritable fashion statement. A neat scarlet and black-trimmed wool top half was offset with camel and cream track pants and open-toed loafers.
At Stella McCartney which prides itself on its state of the art materials its arm candy was made from a leather alternative created out of grape waste from Italian wineries. Almost 70 per cent of the collection was made from “conscious materials” including recycled polyester and fully traceable and sustainable wool. The clothes looked anything but worthy, however, from a pop art print covered trouser suit to slinky disco-ready slip dresses.
After his controversial catwalk depiction of models as refugees struggling through a blizzard, Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia cannot be accused of not taking a stand. Whether or not it was in good taste divided those in the front row.
The show took place in a snowdome and models wearing flimsy dresses, hoodies and jeans battled strong winds and synthetic flurries. They clutched oversized holdalls designed to look like binbags full of worldly possessions.
Clinging dresses with integrated glove sleeves and boot tights came with caped backs, sleeves and trains that billowed against the wind. Double breasted tailoring and parachute silk anoraks had utilitarian strapping, while cocoon like haute hoodies were styled with jeans and heeled boots. Demna is himself a refugee of 1993’s civil war in Georgia and grew up in Düsseldorf.
Loewe and Isabel Marant
The Spanish leather goods label is known for its classic handbags, which this season came in tangerine orange and covered in grey fur. Yet the Northern Irish designer at the helm is building its reputation for scene-stealing conceptual ensembles that work just as well in the pages of edgy magazines as they do on the street stylers posing outside the show.
Leather mini dresses were moulded with rigid drapes and creases so models resembled classical statues. Another came with a hemline in the shape of a racer car. Ruched column dresses had floppy ceramic balloons tucked into their folds. Bright silk column dresses had glossy plastic bustiers in the shape of pouting lips.
Among the more wearable pieces, a recurring balloon print on dresses and separates seemed clever as well as commercial. Likewise silk dresses, tops and skirts that caped the body came with trompe l’oeil motifs of clothing printed on top.
The catwalk at Isabel Marant on Thursday night was more consumer-friendly with tapestry jackets, fleecy shearling, sporty bombers and the now ubiquitous micro-mini hemlines. This designer has long espoused shorter cuts to her clique of French it-girls and Vogue Paris staffers and the trend now has legs on the high street too. Whether the thigh-high blue glitter boots will catch on beyond the A-list is up for debate.