SI reports direct from Paris Fashion Week Spring Summer 2008:



TUE. 9, OCT:

The last days of the Paris shows were packed with a top-drawer bunch: Friday saw Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel open a new chapter in designer denim fashion with itsy-bitsy denim bikinis and – contrary to his own slim silhouette – wide-cut jeans with all the embellishment typical of Chanel. Designers Martine Sitbon – in her second collection under the Rue du Mail name - and Sonia Rykiel both stayed true to their love of strong colors upon wearable silhouettes. Rykiel affirmed that after all these years she still has the right nose for trends and bared out the positive spirit of her still privately-owned company with barefoot models in feather boas running out for the finale. Over at Palais Omnisport, Alexander McQueen collaborated with Philip Tracey in a tribute to the late Isabella Blow. The collection, heavy with Blow’s synonymous bird motif and combined with a knowledge of tailoring akin to the king-pins of Savile Row, was a masterful execution of all that McQueen ‘s adherents love about this increasingly important designer.

Saturday was dominated by the well-attended and highly anticipated second collection of Paulo Melim Andersson for Chloé. Now was the time for this Swedish designer to define his own style apart from that established by his predecessor Phoebe Philo, which he succeeded in with a gentle, feminine collection of prints upon easy skirts and dresses. John Galliano showed a typically playful but sophisticated ensemble of 20s influenced dresses and flounced jackets, with sheer textiles and floral prints; a sense of the Indian aristocrat played out at Jean-Paul Gaultier for Hermès with well-cut jackets, jodhpur trousers and tight-fit dresses. For many the day concluded with the perfume-launch of the new, very rosy smelling Chloé perfume at the old palace of the Hotel de la Monnaie where, across the river, thousands of French watched their rugby team rugger their way to victory against New Zealand on the big screen.

Vanessa Bruno opened the final day with a delightful collection of sheer, pastel-colored dresses and trousers with plenty of layers and lace. Olivier Theyskens showed his poetic and enchanting collection of chiffon ball-gowns and sexy mini-dresses under crude oversized jackets. This was a modern and promising statement for a new era for Nina Ricci. Miu Miu again chose a small an intimate ambiance for a show of couture-esque dresses in laborious jacquard-dresses and high-hemmed ballerina-style gowns of rigid double organza paired with handy-craft shoes. The day’s highlight was down to Alber Elbaz, who showed his strongest collection yet at Lanvin, with flowing elegant dresses in soft textiles in pleats and ruffles in coral-blue, green and red. Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton conclude the season just before Chado Ralph Rucci with a contemporary and fashionable re-interpretation of classical themes like pencil skirts and tight-knit tops.

Other notable mentions are three debutants: Under the label Limi Feu, the daughter of Yohji Yamamoto made her first steps onto the fashion stage with all the aplomb of one would expect, while French mid-price labels Agnes B. and Paul&Joe both showed for the first time on the runway.

FRI. 5, OCT:

It’s half time here at Paris Fashion Week, and three major trends stand out from the many eclectic collections: The “neo-hippie” aesthetic was present in floral prints and soft, flowing fabrics; romance was rife in the form of pastels, textile-petals, ruffles and frills; and finally, a post-elegance theme with precision-cut garments and a clear, defined silhouette riffed on the strong and minimalist style of the early nineties.

It was the romantic and neo-hippie collections which played most on the classic idea of warm and wild summers spent on the Mediterranean coastline. A typical Spring Summer theme if ever there was one, but designers such as Véronique Branquinho riffed on it with a typically dark and modernist approach. Her colors were strong, skirts long and lean and combined with ruffled blouses and jackets. Headed in the same direction were Leonard and Giambattista Valli with their caftan-shaped dresses, while Stella McCartney showed flowing 70s-inspired dresses and signature jumpsuits in ample, comfortable cuts and pattern-prints with her usual urban-esque air.

Strong flower-prints with a 50s-60s vibe distinguished the collection from Christian Lacroix. As the designer celebrates his 20th year in fashion he sent out full-skirted, feminine dresses with accentuated waistlines and bold, colorful prints executed with his usual flair. The ruffles and frills were more paired down at Viktor & Rolf, who presented a pretty collection that stuck primarily to black, white and baby-pink. Valentino’s farewell-collection was a similar wash of pastels, and the designer demonstrated for one last time his talent for dressing the uptown girl in that perfect on-the-town dress.

Pushing all trends aside and at the same time setting them all, Nicolas Ghesquière took Balenciaga (pictured above) to the edge with an impressive array of bright floral prints – sourced from the design houses’ archives – that were played out on clean-cut mini-dresses, with sharp lines and architectural seaming. When it comes to wearable though, look to Celine and Ivana Omazic’s simple, flattering and office-friendly collection of dresses and separates, and the same goes for the sophisticated Akris and Costume National trouser-suits. Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy turned out jackets, classic variations of the little-black-dress, and trousers-suits cut on the bias for a contemporary twist. Karl Lagerfeld combined well-tailored jackets and trousers in his well-worn black, yet switched it up with body-con jersey dresses that added some unexpected color to the occasion as well as some welcome vavavoom.

TUES. 2, OCT:

Paris is well known as perhaps the most eclectic - and inspirational - stops on the fashion calendar, where commercial trends are not easy to spot. Despite this, after the first three days of the SS08 shows, a careful prognoses can be made:

Sunflower-yellow may well be the color to look out for next season, particularly in the collections of the young up-comers like Mina Perhonen, Kris van Assche or Christian Wijnants, who featured skirts, shirts and dresses in this bright new staple. Also prominent in the palette: strawberry-red, as seen at Dior and Gaspard Yurkievich; muted pastels as displayed at Estrella Archs; and the classic pairing of white and black. A lot of the collections we have witnessed during the first few days here have offered patterns and stripes in a grey-white mix that is extremely wearable.

Bright prints in strong colors were seen in long bohemian flowing dresses at Balmain and Robert Normand; Narrow mini-skirts channel the 90s along with the body-con craze that is emerging in Europe, while designers hover between hips and high-waist, as in the collections of Rick Owens or A.F. Vandevorst.

Design duo An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx made a lighting spectacle of their show, which took place in a huge sporting hall on the Eastern side of Paris. Another typically theatrical display was put on by enfant-terrible Bernhard Wilhelm, who created performance-esque art with white powdered models in wooden cages. Eye catching of course, although the harlequin-style clothes may not sit well for the conservative European market.


- Barbara Markert, Paris Correspondent