Paris Fashion Week Roundup

Rachel Michaella Finn takes us through her best of Paris fashion week spring/summer 2014.

Stella McCartney

Stella herself called her show an ‘understated seduction’, and whilst it may be inappropriate to call the entire collection a brilliance in understated style (there seemed little in terms of an understatement in the show’s closing boudoir-like lace dresses), there was an overall feel of cool, feminine charm. The colours themselves – widely white, black, burnt orange and navy – were simple and there’s merit to be found in McCartney’s luxurious use of chiffon, silk and lace. Strikingly classic, this was a collection for the woman who cares about fashion but isn’t a slave to it.

Saint Laurent

Hedi Slimane caused controversy last season with his 90s grunge fishnet and leather clad army. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that for his sophomore collection for the 61-year-old old brand, he returned more to the (Yves) Saint Laurent roots of classic Parisian chic.

When Edie Campell opened the show in a glittered, daringly low-cut mini dress complete with black patent heeled boots however, it seemed at first that this collection was set to follow its predecessor’s glamorous grunge vibe. To many people’s delight instead, thereafter the show evolved into a show of contrasts: androgynous shirt and tie combos alongside miniskirts, mini-dresses, leather skinnies, fitted blazes and pretty party dresses.

It was as if Slimane’s Autumn/Winter 2013 girl had raided her older sister’s more classic wardrobe of sheer blouses, blazers and trousers and mixed those pieces with her own frivolous collection of leather jackets, bright and barely-there minis and colourful evening dresses. This collection was an evolution, retaining the best parts of last season’s look and moving them in a more timeless, stylish direction.

Alexander McQueen

Last season Sarah Burton gave us something from the wardrobe of a pious Elizabethan princesses. This season? This season, it’s a struggle to put the collection into a neatly defined box. Maybe something along the lines of ‘roman digital print princess-meets-tribal warrior’ might suffice? But even that doesn’t quite fit. The beauty of McQueen is the unpredictability of each show and Spring/Summer did not disappoint. Despite how unlike previous seasons the collection is, to view it as if part of a progression from Burton’s previous work would be to miss the point.

In a rotating colour wheel of bright reds, gold, black, white, deep blue, this show, more often than not, was full of endless full-skirted dresses and skirts with the occasional coats tossed on shoulders as if a cape. What the collection misses in the ornate detail of previous seasons, it makes up for with interesting shapes: cut out sides or fronts on dresses, bralets fastened down with metallic harnesses and drop-waisted skirt shapes. We especially love the careful use of leather in belts, skirts, jackets and tops – it intrigues without overpowering.

Chanel

Karl Lagerfeld has a vision for the coming season and, fashion aside, it includes some seriously strong fringes. It also includes an ecstatic rainbow of colours – from the brights to the pastels to the simple black and whites. With a strong 60s vibe, shift dresses ruled the runways alongside classic tweed suit jackets, flashes of denim, vintage print and full skirts that grazed the knee and beyond. An uber-feminine take on the fashion throwback, the collection takes the classic shapes from decades past and reinvents them with a shocking colour-clash twist. And let’s not forget the socks: if Karl says it’s okay, is wearing socks with shoes officially no longer a fashion faux-pas?

Balmain

On a lookbook sheet without a designer name, Balmain may well be one of the last designer’s to spring to mind when viewing the pictures of this collection. For one thing, a huge majority of this season’s looks actually grazed the knee. Olivier Rousteing steered clear of Balmain’s shiny, short, beaded and embroidered dress stereotype and, this season, offered us something of a creative growth spurt. This season was far more about class than glamour, with pale blue denim and dogtooth as key recurring themes. Of course, there’s still the expected elements – the leather and the gold – but overall, Balmain seems to have taken a more sophisticated turn.

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