Catch up on the key shows from the Paris womenswear collections for autumn 17, including the Balenciaga centenary and Chanel’s rocketship show.
Miu Miu’s dressing up box of treasures
There is always a sense of playfulness at Miu Miu, and this season it came through in oversized shapes, bright, vivacious colours, quirky detailing and appealingly tactile fabrics to create the sense that models had been dressed from a dressing up box treasure trove. Chubby fur coats came in bright colours cinched with glisteningly ornate belt buckles, graphic prints appeared on dresses and separates with a psychedelic 1970s undertone, oversized sequins on disco-ball dresses and delicate slip dresses were enlivened by hems heavy in giant feathers and blooms. Fur played a key role throughout, dominating the outerwear offering, both in full coats and as dramatic collar detailing on clear PVC macs. Models also sported brightly coloured fur hats, which added an element of the surreal to the collection and heightened the mishmash of colours, styles and textures. Even a beaded mini dress, with glittering fringing and shimmering sequins, came topped with a red fur cap and a pair of elaborate fur sandals. With fuzzy oversized textures and a playful aesthetic, Miuccia Prada created an almost nostalgic cosiness, with extremely glamorous undertones.
Louis Vuitton’s luxurious city chic
Nicolas Ghesquière’s latest collection for Louis Vuitton focused on a surprisingly casual aesthetic. However, this was not the urban influenced streetwear casual that has dominated many catwalks over recent seasons, but a slick, super luxurious interpretation of daywear with a sophisticated city allure. Opulent patterned fur gilets and leather jackets were paired with roomy leather and vinyl trousers, as well as an almost mottled jean fabric. Waists were cinched in casual tailored outlines, slouchy silhouettes made feminine with defined waists and sensual satin textures, combined with Ghesquière’s layering of jackets, shirts and polo-necks to give a polished look. Delicate slips dominated the dress offering, with boudoir textures of lace and satin in shades of oyster and pearlescent blue, contrasted with dark florals for a more day appropriate interpretation of the slinky evening dress. Overall this was a confident show, further emphasising the cool, city chic of Louis Vuitton.
Historical romance and pagan darkness at Alexander McQueen
Bold youthfulness is woven together with deeply historical romanticism, in a collection that spoke of heritage, femininity and modernity with intricately beautiful detailing. Sarah Burton took inspiration from Cornish culture, brimming with pagan tradition, medieval whimsy and dark, almost gothic romance. There was an urban feel to the opening portion of the show, with dresses in leather and heavy jersey embellished with lace up detailing, redolent of baseball stitches. These laces evolved throughout the designs however, becoming a folksy detailing on dresses in quilted patchworks and sheer ruffles. As ever, the dresses were the stars of the show, with the closing gowns creating a vivid, shockingly beautiful tapestry of images – dresses hand embroidered with florals, birds and nature, detailed symbols evoking images of ancient driven cultures – but with sheer fabrics, cut away sections and studded ankle boots giving the dresses a modern grounding.
Balenciaga’s centenary celebration
Balenciaga celebrates its 100th birthday this year, and in celebration, creative director Demna Gvasalia delved deep into the archives for his inspirations. Voluminous, ruffled gowns in polkadots, chiffons and swirling feathers harked back to original sketches from Crisobal Balenciaga, were a powerful highlight in the collection, brought into modernity with Gvasalia’s natural insouciance, as the couture dresses were paired with his now signature items: the Balenciaga laundry bag in matching fabrics and feathers, and the lycra thigh high boots which were such a success from the spring catwalk. The rest of the offering was typically esoteric, with asymmetric coats buttoned at the shoulder and skirts made from repurposed car mats. Alongside these more statement pieces were feminine floral dresses and romantic midi skirts paired with block coloured boots to give a hyper modern aesthetic.
Workday uniform chic from Celine
Phoebe Philo created a tailored workday uniform this season, with sleek minimalism and crisp shapes creating a formal, yet slightly playful aesthetic. Suits had oversized collars and almost kimono-like wraps, skirts were paired with oversized, mannish shirting and relaxed, ankle grazing trench coats appeared both cinched at the waist, in undone cape-like proportions. Dresses were similarly capacious, in sweeping long lengths, with loose shaping and subtle prints, with incarnations for every occasion – from off the shoulder day dresses, to a smart leather shirt-dress and a one shoulder gown. Against this crisp formality, Philo provided a small hint at cosiness, with models carrying snuggly blanket throws under their arms, in fuzzy shades of green and grey – a welcome addition to Celine’s quirkily tailored uniform.
Dior’s hypnotic blues
Maria Grazia Chiuri’s second ready to wear season at Dior saw a meditation on the colour blue. Appearing in a multitude of shades, from deep midnight blue and navy, to shades of bright, yet worn denim. Denim gave an unusually boyish feel, with slouchy boilersuits, boxy jackets and wide leg jeans giving an almost militaristic feel to the collection, especially when paired with the leather berets by Stephen Jones, which topped every look. Contrasting to this military tone was a continuance of the whimsical, astrological gowns that Chiuri began last season, continuing her focus on soft sheers, which appeared in ombre tones alongside luxurious velvet dresses which, in rich blue, emitted a kind of hypnotic iridescence. While last season’s designs spoke of Chiuri’s messages of feminism and equality with its strong slogan T-shirts, this season projected her views in a more subtle manner, with boldness of design and powerfully feminine shapes.
Dries Van Noten’s retrospective print extravaganza
For his 100th show, Dries Van Noten populated the catwalk with supermodel faces from his brand’s history, and a retrospective celebration and modernisation of some of his iconic prints. The catwalk was bold and joyful, with bright coloured patterns smashed together in a fusion of old and new: florals were paired with geometric prints, appearing on iridescent, almost metallic fabrics in vivid oranges blues and greens that created an optical interpretation of the celebratory mood. Alongside these bold pieces there were also notes of tailoring, in sweeping coats in monochromatic colours, tailored suits with cinched waists and blazers set over dizzying printed dresses. Under blousy supersized outerwear, shapes were draped and feminine, with the dresses a highlight in their effervescent, unabashed print celebration.
Saint Laurent’s glam rock luxe
An aesthetic of hyper glamorous, rock-star drama pervaded the Saint Laurent show this season, with Anthony Vaccarello creating designs for a moody, diamond studded party girl. Leather formed the backbone of most looks, with ruched coat dresses, ruffled mini skirts and jackets all appearing in the fabric. In the more casual looks, leather was teamed with elegant cashmere rollnecks in soft creams, the most dramatic looks featuring sculptural shearling shoulders which rose, like exaggerated collars, around the shoulders of the models. Eveningwear was the focus of the designs, with glistening party dresses dominating. Mini dresses with dramatic shoulder detailing, navel length slits and crystalline sculptural detailing were paired with full on crystal mesh dresses and a pair of dazzlingly ornate, crystal boots, which set social media alight as the show ended, thanks to their glisteningly extravagant glamour.
Haute heritage at Stella McCartney
There was a distinctly heritage feel to Stella McCartney’s autumn 17 catwalk show. A muted palette of earthy tones was set across traditional check fabrics, feminine tailoring and regal notes, with quilted jackets and headscarves taking more than a touch of inspiration from HRH. There was nothing fusty or antiquated in McCartney’s designs, however, as tailored checks appearing in modern, oversized shapes, nipped at the waist for definition to a typically masculine outline. While some looks played with single fabrics, McCartney also presented patchworked creations with clashing checks adding a touch of the eccentric to a classic mini dress shape. Oversized high waist trousers and billowing overcoats hinted at a countryside gentry aesthetic, with the delicate lace dresses almost becoming redolent of stately homes amid rolling hills, albeit in a very glamorous, surprisingly wearable way.
Americana meets Victoriana at Valentino
There were subtle notes of Americana in Valentino’s typically elegant and fantastical autumn show: prairie necklines, cowboy style shirt detailing, bright pastel colours and bold, blocky prints. Alongside these were historical, Victorian ruffles and romantic sheers, which combined to give a varied and sweetly feminine offering with a crisp boldness. Among the dresses, bright leather coats stood out in the collection, with a bubble-gum pink trench paired with magenta knee high boots and a scarlet dress in an unexpected but appealing clash of colours. Swirling sheers and elegantly flowing gowns, with almost cartoonish florals, appeared on some designs, which gave a vibrant punch to Pierpaolo Piccoli’s typically soft, feminine whimsy.
Chanel’s space odyssey
A huge, Chanel branded rocket ship sat centre stage as Karl Lagerfeld unveiled his new season designs for the brand, a fitting adage to the retro-futurism and Barbarella styling of the collection. For autumn, classic Chanel tweeds were given a structured, rigid tone, with wide-raised neck lines, sharp collared, boxy jackets and cap sleeved midi dresses adding a 1960s aesthetic, which was at times redolent of Jackie Kennedy’s iconic styling, especially when paired with backcombed hairbands and pearl necklaces. Spangly threads and a dominance of white and silvery tones gave the tweed a futuristic feel, which was echoed in the show’s later looks. Silver metallic shearling jackets and green leather skirts added to the sense of sci-fi futurism. This theme peaked with the models wrapped in quilted silver shawls and silver leather trousers, looking as if they had just disembarked from an extremely chic moon mission. The designs also included astronaut prints on billowing sheer dresses and separates, as well as galaxy print T-shirts.