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.

Joseph Altuzarra a/w 2013

For fall/winter 2013, Joseph Altuzarra bravely discarded the prints and embellishments that have been oh-so pretty and present in his past collections. What were often the most memorable and what made me love his pieces so much (due to my never-ending love of prints), I wasn’t sure what i’d make of this drastic departure however, I fell quite in love with it!

An “exploration of street”, the clothes were slick and city-ready from the very first fitted pant suit and leather bolero with exaggerated shoulder (an emerging silhouette that is proving ever so popular in New York, first seen in the form of Karl’s framed shoulders not too long ago in Paris for couture week).

“If you take away print and embroidery, you have to challenge yourself a bit more on the cut”, as Altuzarra described. Well, he easily overcame that challenge! Moving away from the comfort of prints demanded a sharper attention to tailoring, cut, and fit – which was prominently displayed in the coat-dresses with nipped in waists and double-breasted power suits (did you love the big buttons like i did?! there’s proof is in the detail, people!) — pure talent in elaborate construction.

The prints were replaced with straight lines, corseted leather and vinyl fabrics (which Altuzarra preferred because of its waterproof nature, proving it to age better than leather). Not to mention the restrained yet somewhat fresh colour palette (black, white, caramel, and a hint of forest green). The pieces evoked a discernible essence of reality, yet managed to keep some of that dreamy fantastical nature and trip-around-the-world feel of his past collections.

Actually, those over-scaled fox-fur mittens tapped into that past whimsical nature (maybe a bit too much for my liking) but would undoubtedly keep you warm amidst the raw chills of winter.

The sexiness of the clothes was also unquestionable, seen in use of the luxe monochromes and leather (what’s not sexy about leather?), defined waists and zippy-skirts. Altuzarra himself stated that “every collection plays with the idea of sexy and sensuality, but in this one the sexiness was very overt”.

“The fiercest, sexiest and most wearable clothes in New York”? Tim Blanks, you took the words right outta my mouth.