The Runway Recap

Paris Fashion Week

We’ve reached the tail end of what’s commonly called ‘fashion month’ – Paris Fashion Week is over. Traditionally considered the most established and creative of the four fashion cities, Paris is where we look forward to what contemporary designers envision for the big maisons and their own fledgeling labels. Here’s what caught our eye.  

by Siska Lyssens

Trompe l’oeil 

 It seems that some designers were bent on pulling our leg this season – or did they mean to pull our arm? Using a layering technique that gave the impression that models were wearing a jumper with the sleeves knotted around the shoulders of a shirt, dress or hips, it was a design device seen in different guises. The great minds of Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga and Chitose Abe at Sacai both thought alike, while Guillaume Henry at Nina Ricci used the trick to draw attention to the waist. Phoebe Philo at Céline interpreted the wraparound concept in her own way – by reinventing the trench through two interconnected layers, enveloping the wearer completely. In each case: one piece, two dimensions.
 From left: Sonia Rykiel, Sacai, Céline, Balenciaga

Uniform dressing 

   Each season has its dose of severe trouser suits and references to professional regalia. This season, Virgil Abloh underlined the sexiness with black-and-white shirting under a leather dress; Christophe Lemaire and Sara-Linh Tran projected a whole other style of femininity in a silky lavender but utilitarian streamlined silhouette. Nina Ricci made a literal reference with a newsboy cap, fringed shoulder tabs and gold-tone bell buttons and Acne Jeans’ Jonny Johansson added a pair of chained eyeglasses to a slouchy pantsuit. 
 From left: Lemaire, Off-White, Nina Ricci, Acne Studios

Pattern play 

   Print will be a big style element next summer, and there are no limits to how you can wear your choice of pattern. Print and colour virtuoso Christian Wijnants took his Persian-inspired patterns and layered them in his vivid yet elegant looks. At Loewe, Jonathan Anderson took a cerebral take on Gingham checks, slicing his dresses diagonally and inserting them on a neutral canvas. Natasha Ramsey, new and very convincing at Chloé, placed abstract and floral patterns on strongly structured feminine dresses, while Stella McCartney borrowed from African Dutch wax fabrics to create playful prints of technical appliances. 
From left: Loewe, Stella McCartney, Chloé, Christian Wijnants

Mini mindset 

   Hemlines are said to rise when social revolutions are on the horizon, and there surely were quite a few extra short ones on show for this SS18 season. Olivier Rousteing at Balmain went maximalist with his mini, adding voluminous pleating. Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent kept it rock’n’roll with leather short shorts worn belted and high on the waist. Maria Grazia Chiuri visited a checkered mod minidress in her sophomore effort at Dior. Antonin Tron, the Antwerp academy-trained founder of Atlein, provided the most directional version: a wrap dress draped on the body with an asymmetric mini length – each iteration proving the versatility of the idea. 
 From left: Balmain, Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Atlein

Playing around 

   A sense of humour is indispensable if you want to survive in the fashion industry, and a few designers made a statement with theirs. Taking the playfulness to a more literal level, Jonathan Anderson showed knits with playing card patterns. Maria Grazia Chiuri also showed her tongue-in-cheek side by referencing the lively and expressive painter Niki de Saint Phalle’s monsters on French-style striped jumpers. At Balenciaga, playfulness took the shape of coyly layering a trench coat on a jean jacket Margiela-style, and that master’s deft hand was unavoidably present at Maison Martin Margiela itself, where John Galliano accessorised certain looks with bags doubling as pillows. 
 From left: Maison Margiela, Christian Dior, Loewe, Balenciaga