On The Runway

The Winner Takes It All: Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013

paris fashion week, spring/summer 2013, louis vuitton

Louis Vuitton’s matchy matchy spectacular (image courtesy of New York Times)

Just when you thought spring/summer 2013 was a write off, Paris happens. Indeed Paris is home to some of the industry’s most exciting brands, but this season was extra special because of the debut of two new designers: Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent and Raf Simons at Christian Dior. Perhaps because of this, everyone else was on top of their game offering a new or more coherent vision of their work (take a bow Riccardo Tisci and Phoebe Philo). In fact for the first time in a while, I feel like fashion is heading into an exciting new direction. Here is a rundown of some of the top shows plus the must-have trends.

paris fashion week, spring/summer 2013, balenciaga, alexander mcqueen

Looks from McQueen and Balenciaga

Alexander McQueen

Honey bees were the starting point for Sarah Burton’s collection of gorgeous brocade jackets, fitted skirts, bustiers and trousers covered in honeycomb patterns and embellishments. The shapes were signature McQueen with hourglass double peplums and later cage corsets worn on top of a series of sheer full skirted dresses made from embroidered crinoline. Elaborate beekeeper hats stole the show.


Even though everyone is talking about Simons and Slimane as the new saviours of French fashion, to me, Ghesquiere is the real talent. Paying respect to Balenciaga’s Spanish roots, he showed Flamenco style high-slit skirts with perfectly moulded ruffles. They were paired with 2D cropped or square tops. The crisp tailored jackets seemed super light.  He is definitely one to keep watching.

paris fashion week, spring/summer 2013, chanel, celine

Chanel and Celine


When Phoebe Philo made minimalism cool again, everyone jumped on the bandwagon. Now everything looks Celine-fied which is why now, more than ever, she needs to differentiate herself. Finally she delivered. The silhouette was still clean but unfinished. She loosened things up with slouchy pants and boxy tops (in shiny fabrics) decorated with twists of fabric along the front. It was a bit street, a bit sporty, and definitely covetable. But one thing I won’t be buying are those fur lined Birkenstocks.


Who doesn’t love pearls? Karl Lagerfeld supersized them and dotted them on gorgeous skirt suits, jackets, larger than life chokers and even on the model’s hair. This was followed by bursts of colour in the form of coloured grids and an embellished dress that resembled the solar panels covering the runway. Silhouettes were girlish, with flared skirts and rounded shoulders.

paris fashion week, spring/summer 2013, christian dior, chloe

Christian Dior and Chloe

Christian Dior

John Galliano is a hard act to follow but Raf Simons is doing a great job. For his first ready-to-wear collection he focused on the house’s most enduring icon, the bar jacket, which came in various modern interpretations from a perfectly tailored coat dress to a grey style with a pleated hem or decorated with metallic appliqués. Embellished dresses with folds of tulle and shiny balloon shaped skirts decorated with roses created a new look for the evening (pardon the pun).


Claire Waight Keller has finally got into her groove (and just in time for Chloe’s 60th anniversary) with a fresh collection that was light and airy. Her tailoring was loose and boxy, but given a feminine spin with perfectly executed ruffles on sleeves or hemlines of skirts (they later became more decorative on sheer pleated tops and dresses).

paris fashion week, spring/summer 2013, givenchy, dries van noten

Dries van Noten and Givenchy

Dries Van Noten

Dries Van Noten goes grunge this season but the results are definitely more romantic and chic (no Smells Like Teen Spirit here). Masculine and feminine elements were mixed expertly to form looks made up of sheer button down plaid blouses (worked in feminine fabrics like chiffon and lame – definitely on my must-buy list), sheer floral skirts, pyjama style smoking jackets, tailored vests and loose trousers. My favourite collection hands down.


Riccardo Tisci was one of many designers to explore ruffles this season but his interpretation was one of the most interesting  (apparently he was inspired by archives from the 1960s and a furniture designer). Soft ruffles squared off modest shift dresses in baby blue. In fact many styles came with high collars or a solid metal choker. There was a sense of strictness in tailored jackets, and high necks.

pais fashion week, spring/summer 2013, lanvin, haider ackermann

Haider Ackermann and Lanvin

Haider Ackermann

I love Haider Ackermann’s sensibility to colour but this season he went monochrome punctuating his layered with prints. The Japanese inspired collection featured masculine jackets and crisp tailored trousers (some with cage like prints) matched with obi style belts. Stripes and polka dots prints added a feminine element.


After celebrating his 10th anniversary at Lanvin earlier this year, Alber Elbaz kicked decided to start the season with a clean slate. The result was a more powerful silhouette that focused on deconstructing shapes. He played with variations of the tuxedo – cummerbunds came tied in a bow, while dresses and jackets featured one oversized lapel or thin black ribbons. Everything was in black and white. But don’t fret, the jewel tone short dresses with origami detailing were quintessential Lanvin.

Louis Vuitton

How can you top a steam train? With four escalators says Marc Jacobs. His monogram free show (which lasted a whole six minutes) referenced the brand’s Damier print instead with plenty of graphic square prints. Shapes were very 1960s (long and lean dresses, or mod-style skirts) and the models, aka checkerboard chick,  came down in pairs to bring home the matchy matchy theme. The beauty was in the details from the black embroidered sequins to layers of different fabrics and textures.

paris fashion week, spring/summer 2013, saint laurent, stella mccartney

Saint Laurent and Stella McCartney

Saint Laurent

Hedi Slimane had a bad rap with editors even before he debuted his collection – first for rebranding the house and then insisting that he be based in Los Angeles (since its so inspirational – yeah right). Then he cut down the number of seats available at the show. But I digress.

If I had to describe the collection in one word I would say it was underwhelming. Sure there were many beautiful homage’s to YSL including 1970s boho style maxi dress (think Talitha Getty), peasant and pussy bow blouses and updated rock ‘n’ roll versions of the Le Smoking tuxedo (which honestly looked so small I doubt they would even fit a teenager). To me it seemed more Hollywood/Rachel Zoe than Betty Catroux (Saint Laurent’s original muse). I was expecting a lot more.

Stella McCartney

Stella’s tailoring got more of a relaxed, sporty injection for spring, with an oversized boxy silhouette. Masculine sweaters were worn with loose trousers while feminine elements could be seen in the sheer/opaque body hugging dresses and tea dresses covered in colourful brushstroke prints. The white eyelet dress and separates were pretty yet tough.

And the trends you need to know:

Japonisme, sheer, collage/patchwork, stripes, checks, ruffles, skin, boxy tops with rounded shoulders (many cropped), shiny fabrics, lucite heels, 1970s shapes and neckwear (from scarves to chokers).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *