This Paris fashion season is certainly getting off to a newsy start, what with a strange new war declared this week on bloggers by the OG crew from Conde Nast, who are suddenly up in arms over the prevalence of street style stars. This, to me, seems a little bit of a late arrival to the pity party, like getting upset over someone in the office who hits ‘reply all’ to an email chain. I mean, we have bigger problems, people.
What has been left unsaid in this latest retread of the debate is how much influence street style actually has today on designers, who have evidently forgotten the original purpose of clothing was to cover up everyone’s naughty bits. Of course, I am talking about the sudden appearance of see-through blouses and skirts in the new debuts of Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent on Tuesday, and Bouchra Jarrar at Lanvin on Wednesday. Today’s collections are designed intentionally to grab attention, and perhaps that’s why some people, used to collections being about fashion, are upset.
At least this is a season of fresh starts, also with Maria Grazia Chiuri showing her first collection for Dior on Friday, and the return of Olivier Theyskens earlier this week. In a way, though, Jarrar had the biggest shoes to fill, those of Alber Elbaz, who all but defined Lanvin for a luxury customer who was less interested in fashion trends than owning a definitive style. His departure was an ugly affair, the subject of an ongoing lawsuit. But Jarrar has the advantage of a great store of affection from French editors, who have long revered her sophisticated take on Parisian dressing, which, it turns out, was well in abundance at her first show as creative director of Lanvin.
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Glancing at the program, I was a little concerned by the promise of something called a “modesty dress,” but the actual designs were anything but conservative. In fact, many of the most impactful looks were also the most revealing, such as a cobalt dress worn only with bikini briefs. Tuxedos played a stronger influence here, with sheer bib-front blouses and trousers trimmed with chains, along with satin robes and a black leather jacket made of what appeared to be snakeskin treated to look almost glossy. The French spoken soundtrack only heightened the Parisian chic effect.
Dresses made from inverted trench coats, skirts made of plastic mosaic, and the occasional unfolded surfing bodysuit wrapped around the body were the building blocks of John Galliano’s latest installation at Maison Martin Margiela. While not entirely earth shattering in its advancement of the house’s ethos, this collection did have a pleasing degree of optimism in its inclusion of brighter colors and a few items that just looked like fun, such as a sweater-like tube that wrapped around a model’s neck and was affixed to a bodysuit that matched her skin tone (that part is a Margiela classic). The accessories showed more of Galliano’s wit, though, with cute sports sandals and winning structured bags that looked like they had swallowed a soft-sided tote whole.
One of the hottest shows on Wednesday happened to be that of Dries Van Noten, where boiling temperatures sent the audience into a state of malaise, even though the designer had decorated his runway with 20 magnificent ice sculptures that displayed floral arrangements that had been frozen under water. He also played Madonna’s “Frozen.” The collection seemed to be coordinated with the dramatic musical swells, opening with a section of white, continuing with deeply beautiful florals prints and dusty rose colors, and concluding with black section, all rendered on mostly casual and yet exceedingly appealing clothes like sweatshirts, Ts, even a pair of joggers, that had been overdressed with layers of crystal embellishment. It was a beautiful show of super cool clothes, even though colder ones would have been better.