Paris Fashion Week A/W2020 Round-Up
Ten shows that caught our discerning eyes at PFW
Paris Fashion Week A/W2020 was, as always, the last stop on the global luxury fashion tour. Known for chic sophistication, glamour and cutting edge design, PFW still remains the most coveted stop on the merry-go-round for new and established designers alike. In many ways, to show here is to have ‘made it’ so there can be no room for error or missteps. Paris guards it’s position in the calendar jealously so there’s no choice but to bring your A-game if there’s any hope of holding your own in this company, let alone actually competing for the column inches. In that theoretical landscape these are some of our favourite collections that stood out for us in Paris.
For their A/W2020 show Chanel opted to present their collection in what could only be described as a modernist’s version of a winter wonderland. The tiered organic curves of the clean white set and the silver reflective floor punctuated with pockets of wafting dry ice put one in mind of an artic landscape surrounding an active volcanic pool. It also turned out to be the perfect canvas for Virginie Viard’s beautifully eclectic collection that drew heavily on the house’s recent fashion history among its other influences. Following in the footsteps of an old master like Karl Lagerfeld is no easy task and so there was something here for everyone to get their teeth into. Buttoned slits were a major theme of the show, whether it was half way or full way up the seams of trousers to reveal swashbuckling style boots (apparently a favourite of Herr Lagerfeld’s) or on long dresses and skirts.
Black and white were the main tones on the palette for the collection with bursts of colours arriving with the likes of the mint green double-breasted, mohair coat or the ribbed, single-breasted, bubble gum red version with the shoulder covering lapels and padded patch pockets. Particularly effective was the candy pink, chunky knit jacket – especially when teamed with a contrasting black skirt and top underneath and set against the white background. The best look of the collection also happened to be the most iconically Chanel – the knitted, black and white, cropped, double-breasted jacket and the torso hugging matching pocketed skirt worn with a black riding hat. That one ensemble alone showed just how much Viard is rising to the awesome challenge of one of the most prestigious positions in the fashion industry.
Natacha Ramsey-Levi’s new collection for Chloe’s winter season had a very distinct flow – in all meanings of the word. Many of the signature colours were there – warm shades of brown, inviting tans and beiges and fashion’s favourites, black and white. It’s the kind of a palette that identifies the house almost as well as a fingerprint. That palette was broken up occasionally with ensembles like the 70s style single-breasted suit with patch pockets and wide-legged trousers in powder blue or the gorgeous lime green, quilted coat with contrast tan piping and inner lining.
The other aspect that flowed equally as impressively were the pieces themselves. Movement was everywhere on the catwalk, whether it was the checked, ankle-length, shirt dress, the numerous wide-legged trousers of many outfits, the light, barely there skirts in a myriad of colourways, the extraordinary full-length gowns in artic white or (most spectacular of all) the halter neck lemon yellow gown with the ornate neck piece.
Womenswear creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri’s show for her new Dior collection had a clear message for the current #MeToo era. All the models walked out under the word ‘CONSENT’ in large, pay attention red letters. Given what was on display on the catwalk Dior could at least guarantee the full attention of all in attendance on the day. One of the themes of the collection was seen on many catwalks this season – the check pattern. It was there in red and black gracing the calf-length, sleeveless shirt dress, the wrap mini-skirt, the double-breasted bolero jacket and many more styles. Elsewhere, the check was a sophisticated brown and grey, as seen in ensembles like the beautifully cut single-breasted, skirt-suit and the loose cut trousers with patch pockets.
Of course, you can’t talk about Dior and not talk about the tailoring. The slate grey, single-breasted suit with comfortable wide-legged trousers was a triumph when dressed down with ice-white sneakers. The rib knit, black double-breasted jacket offered a new take on formality – particularly when teamed with drainpipe trousers zipped at the hem and featuring ribbed detailing at the knees to mirror the jacket. In such an extensive collection one of the stand out looks came with the simple grey/brown, silk shirt dress that descended into a a mass of fine pleats around the legs that billowed in the caught breeze like sails.
Elongated proportions and stretched silhouettes seemed to be the main concepts underwriting Kenzo’s innovative winter offering, the first for brand new creative director Felipe Oliveira Baptista. Over-long sleeves, extra long knitwear, and matching hats, headpieces and snoods extended silhouettes from head to toe. The ‘urban futurism’ aesthetic meant there were no high heels or strappy sandals to be seen anywhere. Boots, either work style or wedged, let you know that everything seen was made for everyday wear at Kenzo. So whether it was the generously cut, formal double-breasted coats that skimmed the ankles, the patent leather two-pieces, or the canvas-style dresses and long tops with graphic abstract prints on them – influenced by art from Baptista’s native Portugal – you knew this was all meant for day to evening.
The wonderfully abstract prints showed up time and again in the collection, particularly with the many brightly coloured, dense floral prints (for both men and women) that will require an especially carefree attitude to pull off confidently on a grey winter’s day. Despite the attention grabbing nature of the collection overall it was a couple of the more subdued outfits that we picked out as highlights. The black and white, A-line, full length tweed coat was superb. And the long-sleeved, navy blue dress was an architectural marvel with strategically placed zips, straps and pocket slits.
The recent volatile nature of the creative director’s chair at the house of Lanvin meant there was always going to be an extra spotlight on Bruno Sialelli’s third collection in the chair this season. As such, it was lovely to see Sialelli rise to the occasion with a collection that was heavy on chic sophistication and glamour. The delicious brandywine, 60s-style, leather mini cape-dress that opened the show set the tone. The white and lemon slip dress featuring a shock of luxurious white faux fur covering the chest and shoulders doubled down on the chic. Lanvin even introduced a new silhouette this season – the clean, round necked jacket with invisible fastening and a beautifully feminine curved hem that looked amazing in grey check and even better in royal navy blue.
The collection was also a feast of desirable colours. The canary yellow, double-breasted coat with contrast navy blue detailing was accentuated by the coat’s hour glass shape. The silk, long-sleeved pleated dresses, cinched at the waist with a wide white belt and carrying a floor-sweeping, long frilly train, looked fantastic in dusty pink and navy blue. Electric navy blue was also the colour of the evening’s best outfit – a stunningly tailored single-breasted coat with bell-bottomed sleeves worn over a matching mini-skirt and sparkling blue, lamé roll neck top. One of the simplest yet most jaw-dropping looks in a collection that should have Sialelli retaining the hot seat for many more seasons to come.
Next year Mulberry celebrates its 50th anniversary at the forefront of British fashion and their Paris collection for the winter shows exactly why they have endured so faithfully during that time; even through some of the inevitable troughs in their long history. Quirky old-English sensibilities are always a hit at the Paris shows and the same was true again here. Once gain the apparent trend of the season, the check pattern, was in full effect for their collection. Suits, long coats, wide-legged trousers, loose skirts – the check was everywhere. Nowhere was it more effective than in the striking red and black tartan colourway seen in the exquisitely tailored double-breasted coat and the sleeveless blouse and skirt combination.
When the check was parked for a few outfits it was certainly no indication that Mulberry was about to take their foot off the gas. Instead we witnessed magnificent distressed metallic gold coats and two-piece suits that almost look like they would pleasingly ‘clang’ if you knocked on them. Following closely behind were navy and gold floral dresses in the long, sleeveless version and short, long-sleeved version, both of which cut their own picturesque silhouettes.
Virgil Abloh wears a number of different creative hats in his life which means no matter how he wants to express himself there’s always an outlet for him within easy reach. Nowhere is this exemplified more than with his own fashion label. His winter Off-White collection had the experimental feel of a designer at the top of his game who deliberately wanted to fuse different styles and genres to create a new breed of hybrids that wouldn’t be seen anywhere else. Ever. So throughout the show asymmetry ranged from the subtle – uneven hemlines, dresses with splits right up to the ribcage and one-sleeve, off-the-shoulder leather dresses – to the extreme – ensembles that were equal parts extravagant ballgown and casual streetwear. There are only a handful of designers working today who could pull off such a feat without it going horribly wrong. And therein in lies the secret to Abloh’s creative successes.
Even when the experimentation wasn’t quite so obvious the innovation was still there for all to see. Off-White was the only collection all show season to use bold cow print designs throughout the collection – on coats, skirts, trousers, boots and even knitwear. Even when this season’s trend, the check, infiltrated the collection the pattern was an uncharacteristically large and striking, black and white, vision distorting houndstooth check that added exciting new challenges to the concept of depth perception. All in all, it was a collection that made you wonder what it would be like to be this creative.
California man Rick Owens is all about the accentuation of the female form, sometimes to its extremes. Everything is cut with that basic principle in mind and yet there is still an androgynous quality to his collections that makes him such a fascinating designer to follow. There’s always a hard edge to his clothing that might not neatly fit into the ‘feminine’ category but is always very erotic nonetheless. The long jersey dresses that form the basic building blocks of the collection are skin tight with slits that expose thighs by the acre. Fortunately, for those who don’t quite have the confidence to be so bold, a multitude of layering options presented opportunities to build a look to suit all sensibilities.
Elsewhere in the show we saw an exaggerated version of the angular ‘power shoulder’ made famous by Riccardo Tisci and Givenchy a decade ago and worn most notably by Michael Jackson. Only here these were shoulders on which you could hang your coat. The zipped, black leather jacket with the wool half-sleeves was a particularly fine example, as was the green version with reptile print. The quilted and striped tailored coats featured versions of this ‘power shoulder’ that were bigger in volume but perhaps not quite as pronounced for your coat hangers. Most eye-catching of the collection were the giant quilted capes held in place by formidable looking link chains across the chest. At least you’ll know that no matter where you party this winter at you’ll always have an instant place to catch a few winks.
‘Kink’ hit the catwalk for Anthony Vacarrello this season. Latex was the material of choice for Saint Laurent’s winter with an amazingly colourful re-interpretation of a significantly growing sub-culture aesthetic that places an absolute premium on the sexy and subversive nature of latex wear. This was a daring collection filled to the brim with skin tight black latex items presented in a whole new fashionable paradigm. In the wrong hands the dangers of working with such a material could have been a show that presented a collection of costumes rather than market ready clothes. But if there’s one thing to be said about Vacarrello it’s that he understands culture better than most in the industry. So even when black latex was coupled with trend-of-the-moment checks – like tartan check blazers or colourful, see-through check blouses – it felt genuine and considered (no matter how daring) and therefore eminently desirable.
One of the ways Saint Laurent maintained this critical creative balance was through the use of colour – not just in the combinations used in conjunction with the black latex pieces but also in the use of brightly coloured latex pieces themselves. So sometimes black was teamed with camel or powder blue double-breasted wool jackets, which was incredibly effective. Or we would have skin-tight purple tops and knee-length skirts, cherry red leggings and halter neck dresses, or blood red evening gowns. The overall glamorous feel was even embellished with luxurious velvet and leather pieces with a healthy dose of opulent faux fur thrown in for good measure. All of which is testament to the fact that Vacarrello has delivered for Saint Laurent yet again.
Elegant tailoring, bold graphic designs, strong colours, stimulating asymmetry, and spectacular silhouettes all describe the new McQueen collection for A/W2020. This was as sharp as we have ever seen from one of the leading British fashion houses. The tailoring was especially drool inducing. Of course, the check was a major part of this collection as with most others. But Sarah Burton subverted the formality of the pattern by injecting wide, intersecting bands of black all over it for a completely new take – as with the tailored, grey check coat. The effect was even better when it was completely reversed so that a black, two-piece suit is instead covered in wide, intersecting bands of grey check.
A number of pieces featured innovative uses of asymmetry to one degree or another, whether it was the dresses, coats and skirts that were much longer at the back (sometimes almost to bridal train lengths) or with the lush, black leather coats and dresses that were extended on one half with waves of brightly coloured, patched extra leather material. The pièce de résistance came in the category of spectacular silhouettes, however. The single and double-breasted tuxedo jackets were already little masterpieces in themselves. But the butterfly sleeve constructions on each was a stroke of genius, particularly in the red lined version on the single-breasted. The shape they created was breathtaking and were fitting standard bearers for a collection that could be described as equally breathtaking.
Read our other fashion week round-ups: Milan Fashion Week and London Fashion Week.
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