On The Runway

Paris Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2016: Survival of the Fittest

Paris Fashion Week, Autumn/Winter 2016, Reviews, Fashion, Shows, Chloe, Carven, Rick Owens, Lanvin, Loewe, Christian Dior, Isabel Marant, Comme des Garcons

Top shows by (from left to right): Loewe and Comme des Garcons

There has been an air of uncertainty and anticipation hanging over the Paris collections this week. This season is likely to be a watershed moment for the industry as changes we have been avoiding have now become inevitable.

How important are buy now, wear now collections moving forward?  Is the old fashion system of bi-annual shows even relevant anymore? How can we still present newness when everything is moving so fast? And what about the future of iconic houses such as Dior and Lanvin (who have yet to name successors), Balenciaga  (Vetements designer Demna Gvasalia will debut his first collection this morning) and Saint Laurent (it’s rumoured to be Hedi Slimane’s final collection for the house). Does the outside world even care about who is designing the clothes anymore?

Frankly, it’s about the survival of the fittest and only the strongest and most adaptable will prevail.

Paris Fashion Week, Autumn/Winter 2016, Reviews, Fashion, Shows, Chloe, Carven, Rick Owens, Lanvin, Loewe, Christian Dior, Isabel Marant, Comme des Garcons

(From left to right): Chloe and Rick Owens

The future seems bright for Claire Waight Keller at Chloe mainly because her collections are the antithesis of fashion. Season after season she shows easy and beautifully made clothes that women will always want to wear regardless of trends, such as her best-selling crepe de chine blouses.  The concept behind the collection plays second fiddle to the clothes which this season includes cool motorcycle leathers including a chic black leather jumpsuit with a tie neck and colourful knit blankets.

Like Claire Waight Keller, Rick Owens has his own cult that will continue to worship at the designer’s altar .  If you could get past this collection’s unsightly colour palette (there was lots of mud brown) and Chewbacca styling moments, there was newness in the draped leather tops, high waisted white trousers, and coats that looked as though paint had been left on them to dry.

One designer that surprised me this week was J.W Anderson at Loewe. Before the show someone told me that he had said it was his best collection to date and I couldn’t agree more. His vision has never been so confident and sophisticated. Asymmetrical hemmed skirts were matched with sheer turtlenecks and finished with bands of fabric around the waist (or in one look, a gold leather corset). A simple fitted knit dress was a showstopper thanks to sleeves made from gold and silver chains.  He also proves time and time again that he is master of accessories from the bags with unzipped bottoms to the tulle wrapped silver coil chokers that hugged the model’s necks.

Paris Fashion Week, Autumn/Winter 2016, Reviews, Fashion, Shows, Chloe, Carven, Rick Owens, Lanvin, Loewe, Christian Dior, Isabel Marant, Comme des Garcons

(From left to right): Carven, Lanvin and Dior

Both Dior and Lanvin were in the same position this season and sent out collections designed by a team or atelier. Out of the two Dior came out on top with a solid collection that to an outsider could have looked as though Raf Simons designed it himself. It opened with beautifully tailored renditions of the bar jacket in black. Later came printed skirts and blouses, many of them embellished with just the right amount of decoration.  It ticked all the boxes but was missing something – an orchestra after all, cannot create the perfect piece of music without its conductor.

Lanvin was a complete disappointment.  The silhouettes were all wrong including 1980s style power shoulder peplum jackets and ill-fitting ruffled dresses and high waisted velvet trousers. Even the jewels seemed tacky.

Those 80s silhouette also made an appearance at Isabel Marant. Although Parisians can’t seen to get enough of her rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic, her collection seemed lazy.  I would much rather wear the clothes by contemporary French fashion house Carven who sent out some super chic shearling trimmed knits.

What has become clear this week is that the designers that will survive are those that will take risks while continuing to march to the beat of their own drum, such as Rei Kawakubo. Her collection for Comme des Garcons’ was uncharacteristically positive with its Versaille style floral printed jacquards, 3D corsets and saccharine notes of Sugar Plum Fairy dancing in the background.  It felt like a palette cleanser – after seeing so many well merchandised collections, it brought back the fantasy, the experimental, the crazy – which is what we love about fashion after all.

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