A tour de force in Paris for spring-summer 2014
Paris Fashion Week, which came to a close on Wednesday after nine days of shows, was certainly full of surprises, with the news of Marc Jacobs’ departure from Louis Vuitton as one of the most memorable. “I even shed a little tear at the end of the show,” confessed Lizzy Bowring, fashion director at trend-forecaster Stylesight. “And I wasn’t the only one,” she added. Now that the tears have dried, the fashion world sits on the edge of its seat, waiting for the label’s next chapter to begin. But in the meantime, what can we take away from Paris Fashion Week?
"A lot of designers really pushed their boundaries this season,” said Tancrède de Lalun, head of buying at French department stores Printemps. “Some have been so bold, forcing us to look at them in a different light,” he continued, citing designers like Cédric Charlier, Anthony Vaccarello and Riccardo Tisci, who broke free from the printed sweatshirt trend that he instigated several seasons ago at Givenchy. In its place was a highly technical and glamorous show. And Tisci is not the only one to venture from tradition: Galliano sent a youthful and structured collection down the runway, a far cry from his cut-on-the-biais dresses of past seasons.
At Céline, Phoebe Philo also broke from traditions. Tancrède de Lalun commented: “Season after season, Céline is one of the brands that makes the biggest impact on the industry, especially the contemporary segment.” The brand is so often imitated by high-street retailers that it even banned photography at its most recent resort collection. Spring-summer 2014 at the LVMH-owned label featured colourful, arty prints and a new casual aesthetic, far from its classic bourgeois-look. “An absolute success that will influence the fashion of tomorrow,” said the Printemps buyer.
For Lizzy Bowring at Stylesight, this season was an “ode to couture”, with big names such as Dries Van Noten and Valentino featuring highly technical designs. Amongst her top ten shows of the season were Céline, Giambattista Valli and Haider Ackermann. “What sets Paris apart is not only the maturity of the collections, but also the designers’ ability to work different materials in a way that makes them commercially successful.” She added: “Even the very tribal collection at Alexander McQueen corresponds to a need – people are looking for that.”
The sports-lux trend is something that will continue to transcend the seasons, with the latest round of collections reinterpreting the look with soft and subtle textures. The motorcycle jacket and the bomber will be sticking around but materials will be much softer: think silk, organza, lace and crochet. Sheer fabrics – especially in skirts – cropped up all over the runway and, though not typically street-ready pieces, Bowring says that adding a pair of shorts of a skirt can make the pieces wearable.
As for her favourite collections, the expert said: “Dries Van Noten had a great use of fabric and colour, while Chloé’s safari-lux collection was full of pieces that will sell. Louis Vuitton did an excellent job at mixing denim and lace in an extremely refined way.”
At Olympia Le Tan, her "A Girl in Every Port" was heavily inspired by the seaside. Jean Touitou at A.P.C also took inspiration from the beach with his denim-heavy collection for the casual yet elegant woman. As for Acne, the Swedish label played on the French ‘marinière’ theme, with rain-jacket inspired pieces and lots of yellow. Californian duo Carol Lim and Humberto Leon put focus on marine preservation with their aquatic inspired collection at Kenzo.
Several brands got creative with presentation, making for many a memorable show at Paris Fashion Week spring-summer 2014. Who will be forgetting the stomp routine at Rick Owens show any time soon? Not to mention the car crash wreckage that was the backdrop to the Givenchy collection or the rainfall curtain at Kenzo. Olympia Le Tan chose the Paris Aquarium for her show, while Jacquemus staged his show in Europe’s largest games arcade. Overall, a welcomed breath of fresh air on the Paris fashion scene.
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