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Paris Fashion Week SS17

As both PFW and indeed ‘fashion month’ draws to a close, these last few collections have been a phenomenal way to finish a creative few weeks. One of the last shows was Miu Miu who knew weary fashionistas would need something light-hearted to lift spirits at the end of a long month!

The Miu Miu collection (above and below) was an homage to 1960s holiday-wear, a trip down memory lane for a retro summer wardrobe filled with print, colour, platform shoes and adorable little swimming caps. Neat trenches and dirndl-inspired bodices with smocking and embroidery offered a very mid-century travel mood, as if we began our journey with a jaunt through the Swiss mountains. Trench coats and blazers evolved into what looked like the most glamorous towelling robes in bright floral prints, worn with bralets and sweet summer dresses. My personal favourites were the boxy PVC coats which were a nod to childhood waterproofs but with a very grown up edge. The whole collection was Grace Kelly on holiday through a contemporary lens and that is no bad thing…

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For a more up to date take on a classic brand, it was Demna Gvasalia’s second collection for Balenciaga, after gathering a loyal following for his label Vetements known for his inventive take on fashion – famously selling a luxury T shirt with the DHL logo on it… At first the irreverent designer may seem a strange choice for the iconic label, but then again Balenciaga himself was a man who wanted to subvert the norms of tailoring and bring a fresh eye to fashion for the women he dressed. Shoulders were a big thing in this collection, a nod to the unconventional tailoring aesthetic of the brand’s namesake. Spandex was used to create skin tight leggings in bold tones and draped artfully to make slinky, sexy tops and dresses. A moment of brilliance was in a boxy yellow puffer jacket (below) which was both totally silly and yet deeply practical all at once. This show veers dangerously close to the hipster aesthetic of irony, but manages to pull it back just at the right moment to make it thought provoking instead.

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Nicolas Ghesquiere at Louis Vuitton showed easy jersey separates elevated with gold gilt detailing, following a big trend this season of modern sports luxe. There were gorgeous black and white cocktail dresses with a laid back loose fit and paired with fabulous gold boots. This easy fit was contrasted with very sharp tailoring, featuring sexy cut-out details to hint at the irreverence beneath. Celine and Stella McCartney followed suit showing collections in this easy Parisienne aesthetic – in fact a trend from all the fashion weeks is a focus on the modern woman and how she wants to dress. This means creating clothes that are as comfortable as they are stylish and can take her from day to evening with ease. No one executed this idea better than Chloe (below), a label that under the radar has had phenomenal commercial success in the last few years thanks to designer Clare Waight Keller. Whether floaty dresses, simple tailoring and chic separates, there is a magical simplicity and skill in the way Chloe puts their handwriting on each garment, focusing on looks women truly need in their wardrobes. The result is it makes you want to walk straight off the catwalk with it all….

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Both Dries Van Noten and Haider Ackermen represented their take on modern tailoring with finesse. At Dries yellow and black took centre stage in a colour palette of darker tones and neutrals. There was a nod to Japanese culture with kimono-esque coats and delicate floral prints. The label is so known for their fantastic textiles, the quality of materials is almost as beautiful as the final pieces themselves and these details offer the low key luxury I have come to expect from their designs. Haider Ackermann (below) also showed a collection filled with black and yellow (once more let’s say it together everyone – SS17 = yellow!) but with a more deconstructed aesthetic; the yellow tones moving more into gold, bronze and chartreuse. Metallic leather was paired with primary brights and subtle leopard print – this was not a collection which shied away from the mix and match look. It worked together because the tailoring is so wonderful and actually my favourite looks were those which were most stripped back and focused on the distinctive cut the designer is known for.

 

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Givenchy had a very grown up and minimal aesthetic, with models wearing huge necklaces where precious stones hung on gold chains and prints from these same stones adorned simple sheath dresses. There was some sharp tailoring (as seen in Louis Vuitton and Gucci) with fitted blazers and figure hugging flares; body-con was a feature of the show but the garments also felt very wearable and apt for their customer. There was some criticism that the show wasn’t ‘edgy’ enough but these days there is so much focus on blogging and street style I actually found it refreshing to see a talented designer like Ricardo Tisci just make some really well-cut, well-made elegant clothes. After all, this is the luxury market and as much as there needs to be an importance on pushing fashion forward this cannot exist without the quality and attention to detail you want from a label like Givenchy. Hermes (below) also showed a very grown up collection, with the softest pinks in suede and buttery tan leather trousers with a slouchy sheer green blouse. It was all a tribute to the effortless luxury the brand makes its calling card and once again I think there has to be room in the luxury fashion market for creating these classic pieces that will stand the test of time.

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Kenzo (above) had a more playful show, throwing back references to Studio 54 where Kenzo Takeda showed a collection in 1977. Monochrome palettes were teamed pops of colour, I particularly coveted a leather jumpsuit in coral red, complete with adorable bumbag (another SS17 trend as seen at Marni etc). Little bralets were worn over neat shirts with full sleeves (another big trend for next year) and finished with a LOT of sequins. This nod to the 70s has been seen throughout the fashion weeks from Chloe, to Tory Burch and Gucci so whether you go full glamazon or bohemian hippy you can take a theme from your favourite looks of this decade. Chanel (below) also went for a playful feel – well when you open a show with two robots walking the runway it is an unconventional start to say the least. There was a focus on the future, with guests invited to the Chanel ‘data centre’ and the collection definitely had a reference to youth culture with bright colours applied to the classic tweed separates. I thought the whole ‘sideways cap’ thing was a bit too obvious and felt slightly ‘Uncle Karl can be cool too kids!’ but was saved by some beautiful printed diaphanous dresses and I loved the tailored pieces made entirely from quilted leather….

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The big focus for me during PFW though was the breaking up of one of my most beloved design teams Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino. Earlier this year Chiuri left Valentino and her partnership of over 25 years with Piccioli to take the helm at Dior. The pressure to create this collection under such a new way of working must have been immense and I have to say I am beyond impressed with what she managed to produce in a matter of months. The collection started with an homage to Fencing armour with exquisite quilted leather body panels (a sport which Chiuri says has the same uniform for both men and women – an introduction to the themes of feminism throughout the collection, hooray!). This evolved through T-shirts with feminist slogans (above) and blood red biker jackets into sheer ethereal gowns with the most delicate embroidered detailing, as we have seen her create so beautifully at Valentino. It really was an organic move from one brand to the other, keeping her own aesthetic alive while bringing new ideas to such an iconic fashion house. At Valentino (below) Piccioli held his own as well, producing another sublime collection with effortlessly sophisticated evening gowns and soft tailoring. Dresses had a vintage Bloomsbury group feeling which was oddly British in its craft and design, which made sense when you realised there were Zandra Rhodes prints on soft silk dresses. This was paired with boxy PVC coats and tiny bags worn across the body – both concepts featured in a number of these shows and big trends to look out for next year. As with his counterpart in Dior, his show ended with sheer, gauzy embroidered gowns which are a constant red carpet favourite – well, if it ain’t broke… What I loved here was seeing two talented creatives thrive and bring their own ideas to heritage brands with both passion and respect.

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It is impossible not to feel overwhelmed by the amount of clothes and trends that have been thrown our way over the past few weeks, and that does say something about the wider issues of the fashion industry (too much of everything). However I think the point is not to slavishly labour over every trend you need to follow, but rather pick up a few hints here and there for how to refresh your style; whether that’s with a fabric you haven’t worn before (PVC), a pop of colour you want to try (YELLOW) or a new silhouette you think would work for your wardrobe – it all should feed into your personal style. I feel very inspired by what I have seen in all these shows and shall be thinking over the next few weeks about my favourite ideas to take into the season ahead…