The end of the Spring/Summer 2019 marathon was marked by controversy at Paris Fashion Week. Most notably, longtime Celine fans stormed social media to decry the new look of the French fashion house, mourning the end of the French fashion house’s former affinity for “women-first” clothes and the minimal, clean design that Phoebe Philo made famous. There were also show-stopping moments — such as Jane Birkin’s surprise performance — and sets: Chanel‘s seaside set would go down in history as one of the label’s most extravagant show sets. Keep reading for our picks of the five heavyweights who dominated Paris Fashion Week.
Pierpaolo Piccioli had creative freedom in mind when creating the collection. Against a backdrop of palm trees and assorted cacti, the show kicked off with silver-haired Kristen McMenamy in a voluminous dress, followed by other black pieces in billowing, “sculptural, moveable” shapes; despite the simple fabrication of cotton-silk, the pieces showed remarkable techniques. Then came the colour. Brilliant bursts of red and orange appeared on the catwalk with puffed shoulders and pleats; neon florals came studded with sequins and worn with oversized straw hats, and to end the parade: Impeccably made embellished gowns and in sheer fabrics. Feather-adorned sandals kept the looks grounded in reality.
Life’s a beach, and we mean this quite literally at Chanel — the French fashion house transformed the Grand Palais into a dream shoreline complete with an aquamarine blue sky, an astonishing waterfront (with undulating waves), and a wooden hut and boardwalk. The collection was blissfully wearable and summery. Barefoot, models with tousled hair treaded waves in tweed, cut into sunshine yellow suits, oversized coats paired with leggings and two piece suits belted and double looped with quilted chain bags. There was upscale resort wear too, with floaty chiffon dresses, and bodysuits paired with sarongs.
At Balenciaga, artist Jon Rafman collaborated with Demna Gvasalia to design a runway that not only replicated the interior of a computer but symbolised the inside of a mind. Models walked through a narrow, kaleidoscope tunnel that lit up with trippy digital art installations; it first flashed encryption codes, then illuminated with colourful periodic tables. A recorded voice played on the speakers saying “presence is the key, now is the answer” — a sure indication of the show’s message of how technology has impacted society. Demna went tech with the clothes again too, using 3D moulding to create the sculpturally tailored coats wwith exaggerated shoulders and nipped at the waist. Beyond the sharp shoulders, there were easy-to-wear pinstriped shirts and trousers, velvet minidresses and elegant jogging suits.
The third of a French trilogy, Gucci left Milan Fashion Week for Paris Fashion Week. Opera glasses in hand, guests filled up the red velvet seats of Le Palace Theatre, and got ready for a show that took inspiration from Italian experimental theatre. After a screening of a short film, models emerged in one outrageous costume after another — a model had a parrot on her shoulder. But the peak of the show was a surprise performance by Jane Birkin. Models were dressed in gender-bending clothes as a nod to the age of inclusivity with men wearing plunging tops and floral silk dresses. The eccentric-meets-vintage theme continued with tasseled trousers, feather boas paired with a sequin jumpsuit and bejewelled jockstraps layered above trousers.
“Dance and fashion [met] on the runway” to great flair at Dior, where Maria Grazia Churi and acclaimed choreographer Sharon Eyal collaborated. The show was entrancing and evocative; set in a low-lit tent in Bois de Boulogne, dancers opened the show, writhing, shimmying, weightlessly moving as flower petals rained from above. Then came the models. Hair slicked back and bound, they walked in clothes with a distinct balletic spin — Grecian one-shoulder blush-toned draped dresses with micro-pleats, swishy dance skirts dominated the collection, but the form-fitting blazers, dresses cinched at the waist, but relaxed in their jersey tulle.