The Paris collections have gotten off to a glittering start, with bigger light shows happening on the runways than on the façade of the Eiffel Tower at night.
I’m not just talking about the glitter fabrics at Rochas, either, although those splashy street-style friendly coats and dresses that sparkled all the way through Alessandro Dell’Acqua’s latest show for the house were pretty appealing to editors looking for something to post on Instagram (above).
But the early shows have also included some powerfully illuminating moments with terrific collections from Dries Van Noten and Chloé that suggest designers here are asserting once again the power of Paris fashion. Following the couture shows in January, these are the first ready-to-wear collections being presented here since the terrorist attacks of last November. And while security has been greatly increased, with handheld metal detectors and one adorable explosive-sniffing dog watching the proceedings at Chloé, there remains a sense of awareness (not nervousness, really) about the spectacle that is created here with an ongoing parade of clothes. So they’d better have something good to show.
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Van Noten’s collection was certainly one that did, filled with immensely shoppable designs from preppy striped suiting decorated with regal crests to animal-print coats and sweatshirts, to lovely velvet capes, all part of a bigger nod to the eccentric style of Marchesa Luisa Casati, the Italian fashion plate and designer-inspiration touchstone. There were so many things here that stood out as both appealing to modern fashion eccentrics (those leopard print pajama pants won’t play in corporate American) and to those who simply love a cleverly cut suit or an interesting sweater, like a gray one trimmed with little pearls in a pattern that suggested an old necklace that had come undone (below).
At Chloé, Clare Waight Keller, the creative director, pushed forward her fashion viewpoint for originals, with more floaty boho patchwork dresses with little flecks of color worked into the fabric that recalled the pastel versions from her spring collection. But adding pieces like ponchos and capes that ranged from the sublimely tailored to the decadently knitted, made this look far more fall weather appropriate, and some playful black leather pieces – even a moto-jumpsuit – balanced out the lightness with some edge (below). Keller might seriously consider adding a home collection to the Chloé world, since some of the pieces were so voluminous that they might require an entire closet of their own to store, but at the same time, would look fabulous as a winter bed throw or something cozy to hang over the back of a couch.
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The thought that came to mind watching John Galliano’s latest for Maison Martin Margiela was “better basics.” Galliano seems to be slowly easing out of the conceptual lane (only one coat here came with a portion of a shirt collar attached to it as a decorative element) and into more commercial fare, with a big emphasis on the handbags, for example. There were also sharp military jackets in army green wool, trimmed with patches that suggested some imaginative merit badges, and more glittering evening dresses that rivaled those of Rochas in the recent bring-on-the-light spirit of the City of Lights (below).