Our fourth and final installment of Paris Fashion Week brings you the latest collections, as the month of fall/winter 2009 shows draws to a close. In case you missed them, part 1 (including Balenciaga and Lanvin) is here, part 2 (including Givenchy and Comme des Garçons) is here, and part 3 (including Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel) is here. Otherwise scroll down for Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton, and more..
1) Louis Vuitton
As with his own label show in New York, Marc Jacobs once again channelled the 80s, only this time at Louis Vuitton it was a much classier affair: in place of the lurid neons and vast shoulder pads was a sugary, frilly, flouncy homage to Parisian 80s Haute Couture, with nods towards Christian Lacroix and Chanel couture from that period. That’s not to deny that there were moments when it verged on being all too much, and there was the question of whether it felt a little extravagant for the times, but it was hard to resist the carefree mood and, for the most part, the clothes themselves were a class act (we weren’t so sure about the shoes though - see below). The ruffles, the ruching, the draping, the puffed-out skirts, cuffs and shoulders, and other couture type techniques, lent the collection a pleasing look and feel, wonderfully extravagant and fun to look at, if not slightly lacking in gravitas (there was nothing particularly strong or architectural going on), though it seemed not to matter because of the joyous mood Jacobs conjured up.
2) RM by Roland Mouret
Roland Mouret branched out from his signature figure-hugging dresses, and provided more options for women in different situations: for the first time there was knitwear, and there were many more daywear options including jackets, skirts, and tops as well as dresses; as Sarah Mower at Style.com put it, these were clothes “for women whose primary focus is keeping employed, rather than pleasing (or snaring) a man.” The colour pallet was sombre, comprising of charcoal greys and blacks, muted olive green, teal, and burgundy, and the odd brighter flash of white and lilac. Mouret’s famed skills in tailoring and cut were evident, and despite feeling rather safe (and very sellable), the collection conjured up a slightly melancholic poetic beauty.
It’s never going to be easy for any designer to return Chloé to the levels of popularity and acclaim it enjoyed under Pheobe Philo, but this season Hannah MacGibbon, the latest designer to have taken the helm, showed more promise than in previous post-Philo seasons. As acclaimed editor Suzy Menkes put it, the collection “recalled that moment when the 1970s moved to the '80s,” thus the wide shoulders, blanket coats, and other 80s emblems, softened with natural fabrics and muted colours. There was a sort of gender exploration as the collection moved between mannish tailoring and heavy outwear and floaty, sheer dresses although, curiously for a brand strongly associated with a sort of effortless feminine elegance, MacGibbon didn’t put forward many convincing arguments for the latter, more feminine category. There were some decidedly dubious moments (high-waisted suede shorts anyone?), and Chloé still has some way to go before it returns to its glory days, but the mere fact that there were more interesting things going on with the design is surely a step in the right direction, and the collection provided a good number of wearable, stylish pieces too.
4) Miu Miu
There was an undercurrent of almost repressed sexuality at Miu Miu with the exposed (often nude coloured) bra straps peeping out from beneath coats, which themselves were unbuttoned to increase flesh exposure, the draped dresses revealing strategic flashes of skin, and the subversive furry high heels, reminiscent of a creation by Oppenheim or one of the other surrealists. Although Miuccia Prada’s customary intellectual approach and slightly cryptic thoughts behind the collection were as present as ever (she spoke of “playing with the bourgeois,”), she’s also ever the canny businesswoman, knowing exactly what will attract her (bourgeois) customers: smart, creatively cut coats, a dash of fur here and there, pretty, embellished tops and skirts, quirky yet reassuringly stylish prints… Comprising of just 38 looks, we thought this was a well-edited, interesting, and stylish collection.
5) Antonio Berardi
Admittedly we best knew Antonio Berardi as the designer of those infamous heels-less boots that Victoria Beckham wore, so it was interesting to take a look at one of his collections properly. For fall/winter 09, the prevailing mood was a sort of rock chick glamour, a Balmain attitude in other words. That’s not to say Berardi copied Balmain: sure the power shoulders were present (but they've been almost everywhere this season), and he had plenty of his own ideas for creating a sexy, shimmering, (and deliberately rather trashy) collection. Fur, Swarovski crystals, and thigh-high boots were not in short supply, but at the same time there was some clever, close construction and some striking architectural monochrome dresses, lending this collection a more serious, slicker, stylish edge.
6) John Galliano
Similar to Alexander McQueen, John Galliano went for theatricality and escapism, with an outcome that was not entirely successful. The Russian peasant (glammed up to Tsar like proportions) theme gave rise to some wondrous creations, realised with incredible craftsmanship, and it was quite thrilling to see such an outpouring of creativity after a generally restrained fashion season. There was a real beauty to a lot of the collection and the shoes were quite extraordinary. But the problem was the same as at Alexander McQueen: ultimately it all felt rather irrelevant, inappropriate almost, better suited to being shown a few years ago. Now is the time for a greater sensitivity, a greater pragmatism, a time for collections which have sufficient realistic substance to them so they can be shown without being drowned in flamboyant drama and theatrics. That's not to say we think Galliano should abandon his signature extravagant style, but toning it down just a little and showing some more wearable pieces would have helped greatly. Marc Jacobs' Louis Vuitton collection demonstrated a better balance between realism and fun theatricality. This was a fun collection that we admired in many ways, but it didn't seem to push fashion forwards or provide anything new - rather it was clinging to a genre in fashion that is bygone, temporarily at least.
Our verdict on these is tranny meets Ikea flat pack. What an amazing/ridiculous idea to construct sky-high platforms from a light wood, more commonly used for Scandinavian furniture.
At Kenzo Antonio Marras also explored a Russian theme, but with a greater subtly which fitted with the house’s signature colourful, slightly ‘ethnic,’ slightly eccentric look. Despite all the prints, colours, layers, and small accessories (belts, scarves, hats, gloves), Marras managed to bring a sophisticated elegance to the collection, although a few looks (particularly those where the hemlines skimmed the models’ ankles) were beset with a slight fustiness. Still, Kenzo isn’t aimed at a young, nightclubbing clientele, and there were still plenty of easy, low key, yet elegant options on offer for their core customers who don’t want to submit to floor length skirts either.
Jean-Paul Gaultier showed an aviation themed collection at Hermès that felt as luxurious as ever. The theme was the perfect excuse to show off the house’s heritage and skills in leather goods, so a series of leather flight jackets, and other outfits inspired by early aviation clothing, took off down the runway (if you will excuse the pun), having been given the luxury treatment by Gaultier. The overall effect was chic and there was more energy and presence than in pervious Hermès collections. There has been much talk about how Hermès is the leader of subtle luxury, how this has become even more important in these hard times, and so on, but we have to disagree, with this collection being a case in point: there’s nothing particularly subtle or low key about ferociously expensive leather jackets with fur collars and matching leather skirts, nor about the sort of people who can afford (and who choose) to wear them. That’s not to belittle this strong collection, but rather to point out that fairly blatant, expensive luxury still seems to be alive and well at Hermès (unsurprisingly perhaps, since their ready-to-wear has always struck us as being aimed at people who are very wealthy and less concerned with following trends).
fall winter autumn fall/winter autumn/winter fw09 aw09 fw aw 09 2009 f/w a/w f/w09 a/w09 fall/winter09 autumn/winter09 paris fashion week
What are your thoughts on this latest round of Paris shows, and indeed on the season as a whole, including New York, London, and Milan? Any trends or particular shows that you've liked or disliked so far? We'll take a deeper look at details and trends for the season a little later in the year. For now, time to switch our attention back to spring/summer 09, since that's now the current season, and those collections are filling the shops.