On The Runway

Autumn/Winter 2012: Paris Gets Sporty

paris fashion week, autumn/winter 2012, stella mccartney

The Paris shows continued with plenty of celebrities (Alicia Keyes, Salma Hayek, Nicole Kidman, Zhou Xun and a blue haired Katy Perry among them) and plenty of sportswear.

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney’s usual Saville Row tailoring got a sporty injection this season (she’s designing the uniforms for the Olympic British team). Tailored jackets made from bonded tweeds and satin came with 1980s style big shoulders and ribbed collars for a sporty touch. She also played with jacquard, using it on short flirty dresses with high necks, before she embroidered it with contrasting threads of blue and white to create graphic tops and dresses.

Like other designers in Paris she also experimented with volume at the hips – an aran knitwear dress was sculpted into an hourglass shape that hugged the body. Also on the trend list – fluffy sweaters (which came decorated with tufts of alpaca, mohair and silk) and colour block sweaters that I loved. She ended the show with a series of modern cheerleaders in short ruffled dresses. And just as well – there was plenty to cheer about!

paris fashion week, autumn/winter 2012, phoebe philo, celine


Phoebe Philo caused quite a stir when she decided to forgo her usual runway show for a smaller presentation this season (she’s also eight months pregnant and ready to pop). And while the collection was probably one of her most commercial endeavours, it was all the more covetable because there were so many pieces women can actually wear.

A few seasons back Philo made her fashion mark with her soft leather tees and this time round there are more covetable leather pieces to add to the list including buttery soft funnel neck tops (some in real leather, others in PVC) worn layered with trousers featuring zip details at the front (chubby knee alert) or down the side for a cool look. There was a hint of London punk in her neon pink fur coat, although I preferred the oversized slouched shoulder wool versions that came with a “Martingale” at the back  (a thick belt). Even the sweatshirts had the Phoebe touch, whether it was in her use of patchwork textures or banana sleeves for a new silhouette. Editors were also fawning over the scarves, which looked like silk but were actually made from super soft leather in a palette of white, brown and blue. All in all, perfectly chic.

chloe, paris fashion week, autumn/winter 2012, clare weight keller


The jury is still out as Clare Waight Keller presented her second collection for Chloe. Like her fellow Brits in Paris (Stella and Phoebe) she also went down the sporty path with some “English Festival Girl” thrown in. As such there were parkas in shades of peach and green and jogging pants mixed with Parisian staples including culottes and silk scarf blouses.

For me, the fun came through in the knitwear including an airy lace sweater with floral appliques and multi-colour version. Everything fell into the easy and breezy style Chloe is known for as seen in combinations such as a cream sweater matched with droopy skirt. All in all, the show added lightness to Paris that was missing (it was also the quickest show in fashion week history so top marks there!)

paris fashion week, autumn/winter 2012, stefano pilati, ysl

Yves Saint Laurent

I have always been a huge fan of Stefano Pilati so was both excited and sad to attend his final show for Yves Saint Laurent (he will be replaced by Hedi Slimane, of Dior Homme fame, next season). Over the years his collections have been both lauded and criticised by the press, with constant rumours circling about his dismissal. To me, he has always embodied the understated elegance of the house while adding a dark modernity that was best exemplified by his blade-runner collection in 2008. But I digress.

This autumn/winter he continued down his dark path as models came out in sharply tailored black jackets with large shoulders, tough leather tunics, high waisted trousers and fur trimmed capes that showed off his masterful skills (there was a Helmut Newton undercurrent that I loved). A calla lily motif on necklaces and clothing added sensuality (the silver necklaces are super chic), although I preferred the series of backless chain mail dresses that stretched and hugged the models curves beautifully (I later found out they were made from rubber). A long white gown with a thin chain trailing the collar and neckline was so chic Yves Saint Laurent could have designed it himself. At the end of the show Pilati came out looking relaxed and happy, as everyone got on their feet and gave him the standing ovation he rightfully deserved.

paris fashion week, runway reviews, karl lagerfeld, chanel, autumn/winter 2012


Chanel’s shows are always known for their incredible sets and this time Lagerfeld took us from spring’s seascape to the centre of the earth with life sized crystals and minerals jutting out from the floor of the Grand Palais. These later morphed into crystal clutches, as decoration on jackets and dresses, and onto the models eyebrows which were designed by famed French embroiderer Lesage.

But back to the clothes.  The classic Chanel tweed suit was cut looser and came with tight trousers worn under the swinging skirts. Knitwear featured colourful patches and later came with shards of broken coloured glass decorating the front. Sheer chiffon was used on pleated blouses and multi-colour dresses worn with tightly wound scarves around the neck.  The Kaiser’s taste for couture was evident in the feather pieces that closed the show.

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