Thursday 6th October

| BY Natalie Dembinska

Our SS17 Paris Fashion Week Round-Up

After what could be called the fashion equivalent of the Grand Tour, except for the fact that it’s not entirely Europe-based, we finally reached our final leg – Paris, city of lights and buttery pastry. And, while she may not have been kind to our waistlines, she can be a cruel mistress that way, she was certainly kind to our eyes. Let’s just call her a visual treat for our tired retinas. They’re so tired. Even the toothpicks holding them open keep snapping.

At Céline, the question was posed: how best to decorate a dress that covers the body? With an image of said body on the front of it. Not one of those crass barbecue aprons you’d see on a TLC show, but rather an Yves Klein Anthropometries print. You know, when he used naked women covered in blue print as paintbrushes. Phoebe Philo chose not to explain her designs this season, the thought process behind them, so while we could spend hours trying to find some hidden meaning in the print we won’t. Nor will we in the clothes, a sort of parade of Céline classics. Sometimes it’s just nice to let the clothes be clothes and not some thesis on whatever headline happened to grab your eye at any given moment. These were definitely clothes for clothes sake. And all the better for it.

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For a moment we wondered if Daft Punk were back, and dressed on drag when two android-headed figures, dressed in boucle skirt suits stepped out onto the runway at Chanel. But no, they were merely a fitting opening to Data Center Chanel, or to quote Karl, “this is technology. But with the lingerie, it’s intimate technology!” And what does technology look like in the world of tweed? Motherboard inspired lines and rainbow coloured wiring and short circuit prints, set against an appropriately techie looking backdrop. Caps, it should be noted are now to be worn to the side. Fresh Prince style.

So, in our original review of Loewe we might have alluded in the first line to Star Wars, and may be now admitting, on reflection, that Loewe had little to do with Star Wars at all. After all, Darth Vader is not Jonathan Anderson’s father, as far as we, and he knows, anyway. No, Loewe was more an ode to craft, homey but not that homey, House on the Prairie craft, there was patchwork after all, and raw hems. Think a very grown up, lux, fit-and-flare silhouette version of craft. No hessian sacks here.

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There was something almost meditative about Rick Owens this time. Calm. Delicate. Almost as if there was a lightness shining through. The odd layers and volumes that usually permeate his collections were here but those gothic undertones that he’s so well known were swept away to an extent. In colour at least. The dresses, with their long fringes and swathes of gauze felt as though they’d been twisted on the body, imbuing them with a feeling of Good Witch of the South. She won’t curse you. Instead, like Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, she’ll flick a wand and turn your pumpkin into a horse drawn carriage.

Would it be wrong to describe Valentino as a debut for Pierpaolo Piccioli? Technically he’s been there for quite some time, heading up the house with Maria Grazia Chiuri, but since her recent departure to Dior, he’s taken over the reins, so this would be the first time he’s flying solo. Either way, debut or not, this is a new dawn for Valentino. One that feels lighter and filled with hope. There was a lightness of touch here that came through in the colours and the tiered layers of soft chiffon, as well as in the prints, prints designed by Zandra Rhodes no less. A cornucopia of delicate birds and imagined flora that played to the Garden of Earthly Delights inspiration and further underscored the soft femininity that Valentino is so well known for.

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It’s another new dawn, new age in Paris. Both at and for the House of Dior. After a couple of seasons of the design team designing the collections post Raf Simons stepping down as Creative Director, the hunt for a successor has come to an end. Enter, stage right, Maria Grazia Chiuri of Valentino. And what does her Dior look like? Strong, white and a little sporty. With a feminist slogan blazed across it. Dio(r)evolution anyone? There was a paired back feel to this, simple dresses, t-shirts with ball gown skirts, Dior stamped in block capitals on exposed bra straps and waistbands, white quilted shells not dissimilar to fencing vests. And if this a call to arms of sorts than we would do well to remember that Madonna did once fence in one of her videos and what is she if not strong?

How many times can we actually say new dawn, new day, etc, etc, in one round up and resist the urge to quote Nina Simone? Three times apparently. And so, as with Dior and Valentino, Saint Laurent is also experiencing a new, insert chosen adjective here, with the debut of Anthony Vaccarello at its helm. And what does his new day encompass? A Y! Yes, YSL is back! If not in name then certainly with logo, which appeared in the guise of sky heels on shoes and tiny crystal tattoos on tights. This was YSL the va-va-voom days. Tight, short and ruched in black leather and liquid gold. There was even an exposed boob. Free that nipple! Let it shine!

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How do you solve that age-old dilemma of what shoe to match to your boot? Make a trouser shoe of course. Duh! Which is exactly what Balenciaga did. In bright eighties spandex no less.  Whatever happened to spandex? Why did it die alongside hair metal? Why has it taken so long for it to be revived? The spandex, not the hair. That can remain forever buried in a Nikki Sixx biography. Anyway, this wasn’t all just spandex and weird rubbery hooded capes. Think of it as a continuation of last season, the second chapter in the Demna story. That straddling the fine line of high and low of carefully reference Eastern Europe of a certain era is here, but looser somehow, boxier. The curtain’s opening up, more ‘Western’ influences are creeping in. It’d explain Krystle Carrington power top, complete with blingy brooch.

Louis Vuitton Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger, Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner, basically any cinematic dystopian heroine you care to mention, this was them. From the forties shoulder of the suiting to the heavy ruching of the leather basques worn under those jackets and tiger print sequins and precisely slashed jerseys this had a sense of bad bitch emerging from her underground lair into a bad world about it. There was an inherent toughness to this, she felt powerful, uninhibited. Wild even. To quote from yet more random songs, she’s a wild and an untamed thing, taking a walk on the wild side.

So, until the next time. We’re off to bed.

Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans, from top Céline, Loewe, Dior, Saint Laurent