Fashion month may officially be over but these shows are still very much on my mind and to me, will define the spring/summer 2014 season. Here are my top favourites from Paris.
While the McQueen show referenced one of the season’s hottest trends (cue tribal beats) it was interesting to see Sarah Burton go back to the brand’s roots with some sporty pieces and hip-hugging waists (McQueen made his name with those famous bumster jeans in the 1990, afterall!) That’s not to say the couture and craftsmanship the brand is known for was missing – you could see it in the beaded checkerboard separates and stunning feather dresses. There was a definite whiff of a modern woman warrior thanks to the leather harnesses, multiple gold cuffs and gladiator skirts.
The last time Phoebe Philo made me this excited was at her first show for Celine in spring/summer 2010. This season she took us down a different path by eschewing the minimalism she defined these past few years. As the soundtrack suggested, she was “Back to Life,” with a modern collection that brought to mind the energy of London. There were brushstrokes on long tanks and voluminous T-shirts (some say it was tribal but it reminded me of graffiti). These were worn with pleated skirts. Even the colours went back to basics with primary shades of red, blue, yellow and green. As usual her innovative fabrics came through as seen in the super tight pleated knits, mesh and woven jacquards.
Even if Raf Simons sent out a mediocre collection (to the contrary, it was one of his best), you probably wouldn’t notice thanks to the stunning garden he recreated for the spring/summer 2014 show. Hundreds of beautiful flowers, both real and fake, brought spring to Paris early and it was intoxicating. There was a similar sense of wonder in the clothes (apparently he was inspired by the topsy turvy world of Alice in Wonderland). Bar suit jackets came with floral pleats at the back or were matched with floral pleated skirts that appeared askew. A basic shirtdress was transformed into couture thanks to cut-out shoulders and ruching on one side. Even the sheer tulip skirts seemed other-worldly. Then there was the details – badges and embellishments covered tops and jackets. They later bloomed into beaded necklaces that draped across the neck and back like Weeping Willows. Simply gorgeous.
I have always been a fan of Hussein Chalayan. While his collections may not be as high profile as other designers, each piece is so perfectly executed that you can’t help but marvel at them. Called “Breeze’s Corridor,” for spring he played tricks on the eye with looks including striped towel dresses and sheer, layered tropical prints. Boiled wool came sculpted on the neckline of a dress, and then magically morphed into a flowing silk skirt. Another cocktail dress appeared to be covered in hundreds of colourful post-its. One cannot even begin to imagine the technical skill that goes into making these kinds of pieces. That being said it was the less obvious but no less beautiful elongated jackets, skirts and draped tops that I will be coveting next season.
Riccardo Tisci has finally let go. For spring/summer 2014 he dropped all the gimmicks and trends (goodbye Bambi sweatshirts) and replaced them with a restrained and elegant collection that showed his skills and confidence. This time it was Japan and Africa that inspired him in all the right ways. There was an ease in his modern kimono jackets which had twisted lapels and contrasting textures. I could imagine myself in almost all of his beautiful, draped jersey pieces which came in an earthy palette of beige, sand or saffron. Later he added feathers and sequins for the evening. It was easily one of his most wearable and beautiful collections.
From the start of the season everyone was talking about Marc Jacobs leaving Vuitton, but the point was driven home as soon as we walked into the show. The set was a tribute to his greatest hits and featured show favourites like the escalators (spring/summer 2013), the cage lift (fall/winter 2011), the Dolce Vita fountain (fall/winter 2010) and train station clock (autumn/winter 2012). Even the first look – a Stephen Sprouse graffiti bodysuit worn by an almost naked Edie Campbell – paid homage to his most infamous collaboration for Vuitton.
The entire show was dedicated to the “showgirl in all of us” so models came out in spectacular feather headdresses and elaborate dresses and tops decorated with intricate jet beading and feathers. Marc being Marc, he matched them with jeans or showed some bare skin. It was a bittersweet moment, made more poignant by the fact that he is one of fashion’s most talented designers. He will be missed.
And the best accessories…
Celine’s bags with brass triangle handles, Chanel’s art-inspired backpacks and bangles, Valentino’s Roman flats and Dior’s waterfall necklaces.