Paris Fashion Week: the Grand Finale

Paris Fashion Week: some may call it the crème de la crème, the cream of the crop, the best of the best of what is Fashion Month…But i’d rather call it the grand finale.

Now I agree to the extent of seeing it as something otherworldly, but I wouldn’t necessarily say the designers who show during Paris Fashion Week are more talented than the rest – I mean would Alexander Wang and Marc Jacobs (both hailing from New York) have been chosen to design for Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton if they weren’t as talented as the Parisian founders themselves or their present-day colleagues/rivals? I don’t think so. — Not to mention German Kaiser Karl at Chanel and the spectacular visions of Belgian Raf Simons at chéz Dior.

I do tend to favour Paris over the others, though. New York may be my favourite in terms of having the edgiest, most wearable clothes out there; London may be in its prime for prints and futuristic looks for those who have luxury of never feeling out of place wearing just about anything whilst strutting upon the London streets; and Milan I feel is exciting and outrageous with a sense of beautiful traditionality and decadence within the collections, whilst always pushing the limits and surprising its audiences.

Paris is a combination of the best aspects of all three aformentioned cities but it has something more. It has this lure of luxury to it, with clothes definitely unattainable on my current income, or lack thereof (at least for the moment!), but which I find myself lusting after and can only dream of wearing one day. It just so happens that I spend the most time memorising the looks of every Paris show over the others to see how and where I can slightly alter my wardrobe every season to encompass just some of that Parisian je ne sais quoi so present in the collections.

So again, I think it’s more of a personal thing for me as to why i’ve chosen to favour Paris over New York, Milan and London – the imaginative aspect of it (and much of my childhood spent daydreaming of Chanel handbags and having my sketches inspired by Giambattista Valli gowns!) captures my heart and soul that I just can’t seem to look away.

Therefore, here are some of my favourite shows — let’s call it an ‘ode‘ to the grande finale that is Paris Fashion Week.

From top to bottom: Valentino, Dior, Giambattista Valli, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Céline, Chloé, Balmain

Photos: vogue.com; style.com

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Alexander Wang for Balenciaga a/w 2013

As Alexander Wang was about to make his debut at Balenciaga, the thought on everyone’s mind must have been: “how is it possible to even TRY and follow the outstanding designs which have graced this french house under the hands of the ever-talented Nicolas Ghesquière?”

As the audience departed Balenciaga’s intimate salons on the Avenue George V however, all doubts and worries were laid to rest. Wang confirmed that the show venue suggested going “back to the roots, identifying the codes of the house and translating them into a functioning, full wardrobe”. This not-so-simple task proved a success in my opinion as the collection felt true to the lines of Cristóbal  himself (Cristóbal having been called the master of us all, according to Dior).

The collection was filled with the traditional cocoon coats, jackets with rounded volumes, petal skirts, curved hems, molded and structured peplums and bracelet sleeves (to name a few!) — sculptural qualities for which Cristóbal was celebrated for in the late 50s and 60s. Fitting for a collection going back to the codes of the house… and made innovative with dynamic new materials. 

The emerging trend on Alexander’s runway both literally (the runway itself looked like it had just experienced an earhquake) and embellished on the clothes themselves was faux marble – first showing up as a fractured print on the lining of elegant tops with opened backs, then as a motif on embroidered dresses and then finally on looks which clearly had Wang-style written all over them: tuny shaved fox jackets with high-waisted velvet lace pants.. the play on the two textures = absolutely genius.

The accessories are sure to be a commercial success (along with the collection itself, which was very wearable!).. i especially have my eye on those figure-eight metal-buckled riding boots — which were also seen as closures and decoration on the garments themselves.

Tim Blanks has cleverly interpreted the cracked, paint-spackled mohair knits as a metaphor about the promise of a young designer: ”ready to break with the past when the time’s right”. The promise of Alexander and his intriguing new directions for the future are clear from this beautiful collection and when he does break with the past, I predict it’ll have everyone floored in awe.

Best of Paris Couture: Valentino s/s 2012

It was a bouquet of flowers á la Valentino by Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri — romantic & girly, légère & luxurious, and yet refreshingly different compared to the other couture shows.

Consistencies of feminine floral patterns on layered chiffon, and heavy silks & satins with prim & proper silhouettes, gave us a “Jane Eyre-esque” vibe with the high Victorian necks and long sleeves.

The collection evoked an element of couture modernity with white woollen trousers (very wearable and rather informal for traditional couture!) and had with it a sense of understated sexiness (you know that’s my favourite!), ending the show with lace covered in embellishments of pearls and crystals  – showing some skin yet keeping things hidden underneath sheer fabrics.

Vintage shoes in matching florals topped it all off and the models looked so fresh, simple and elegant with that one flick of winged kohl, lining just the outer edges of the eyes whilst keeping the rest of the face neutral — always one of my most favourite couture shows — it never fails to impress, astonish, or leave us fantasising in awe…

Best of Couture: Chanel s/s 2012

Best of Couture: Chanel s/s 12

Hosted in an air Chanel Jumbo Jet with passenger seats facing the runway, it was a contrast to Karl’s underwater themed a/w 12 collection as we were rocketed into the night sky for a traditional Coco joyride. 

Bright lights with grey-hued daywear shifted to transparent chiffon and full length wool dresses with boucle jackets & embellished jewelled buttons; finishing with sequinned and embroidered cocktail dresses as the lights dimmed – signalling looks for the evening. 

Hems dropping to mid-ankle length, drop waists, and simple shades made for an extremely wearable yet undeniably opulent and luxurious – a tradition of couture which is never missed at the house of Chanel. 

PS – those three bar ankle strap courts are on the top of my couture wish list!

(Source: https://www.youtube.com/)

Best of Paris Couture: Giambattista Valli s/s 12


Beginning with a pale & black palette, shifting towards deep fuchsias and magentas, and teamed with the oh-so-traditional lace & froth, Valli’s couture was by far one of the most beautiful & feminine shows of the week.

There was a flamenco feel to the collection with Spanish inspired headdresses, embellishments and florals combined with light floaty fabrics and amazing textures; an array of shapes including cocoon silhouettes, sleeveless capes, stand-away collars, defines waists, and peplums (to name a few!) I just couldn’t have asked for anything more — (except maybe the opportunity to wear but just one of the exquisite gowns!).

He may have been seen as a new addition to Paris couture, still trying to prove his worth, but with this show he’s already leaving a mark of tradition (as well as already having A-listers fighting for the front row) – which can only be acquired with years of experience. Let’s hope he’s here to stay!