What to buy from the spring catwalks
Colourful festival chic and edgy 90’s glamour inspired stunning collections at Paris Fashion Week. Kate Finnigan and Lisa Armstrong round up the best of the new season’s looks
After two seasons of anchoring Chloé to the Seventies, Clare Waight-Keller dedicated her show to “girls named Kate”, in an ode to Moss and the Nineties British rave scene. Models wore wide-legged “rave pants” that recalled the sidestriped Adidas tracksuit bottoms worn in sweaty nightclubs and mucky fields; signature flou dresses and blouses, updated in carnivalesque rainbow dipped crépon and with tassels; trousers and their counterpart trackie tops worn with trailing skirts; chunky “reggae” knit sweaters; as well as silky dungarees. Waight-Keller in person can be very serious understandably — (leading a big fashion house is nothing to laugh about) but this collection was a lot of fun.
Rare is the show that viscerally moves the audience. But Sarah Burton’s Alexander McQueen collection, with its exquisite dresses and stoical integrity (when was the last time any of us saw a show from a major label that wasn’t all about the bags or sweatshirts?) stole everyone’s heart. Her view of the world is softer than that of the late Lee McQueen’s, and in this collection she finally gave her instincts full reign. Tiny flower prints were printed on to chiffon frills or embroidered on to denim trouser suits or leather in the S shape.
Two of the most strikingly beautiful dresses were fitted to the hips before dissolving into layers of nude or black “tattered” lace, lending them an entirely new delicacy. A stand-out show.
Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski confidently staked out her territory with her second Hermès collection. Light and airy without being nipple-baring or silly, these ultra-luxurious, mainly silky clothes were shot through with a grown-up yet youthful sensibility. Hits included navy, scarlet and white geometric scarf prints on coordinating tunics and skirts, windowpane check sheaths, black dungarees with spaghetti-thin braces and a flared cream sleeveless-jacket-come-dress — a super-glamorous version of an item that will be one of 2016’s wardrobe staples. Worn with highheeled mules, but more often with bright orange Hermès trainers, it was crammed with desirable classics underscored with Vanhee-Cybulski’s cool, pragmatic style. Jane Birkin, who recently berated Hermès for its crocodile skin obsession, beamed from the front row. That’s her wardrobe sorted.
Sacai specialises in a just-avantgarde-enough take on classics, and this season designer Chitose Abe has got them working overtime — never has a navy pleated skirt felt so appealing. She started by taking elements of vintage clothing — a souvenir scarf, a rock band T-shirt, a Napoleonic coat — and deconstructing them. Tacky pink scarves with a tiger motif became an off-the-shoulder top, then a mid-length skirt (spliced with laser-cut embroidery panels), then a short-sleeved bomber jacket. A beaded cardigan was rendered instead in studs to lend a punk edge. There were surprises to everything: knife pleat inserts to make clothes move in unexpected ways, splits in seams, backs that fell open, exaggerated waist lines. That 360° treatment meant there was always something else to consider.
Four months ago Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri in Rome, had desks in their offices piled high with books on Africa. They’ve been busy in the interim, running traditional Maasai beading, feathers and Kikuyu textiles through their ateliers, where the unparalleled light touch of their seamstresses turned them into delicate embellishments with an unmistakably Italian embrace of the uxorious. Monastically plain kaftan shapes gave way to tribal and waxed prints. Then came feathers, chiffon inserts, beading, studded leather and bands of coloured suede. As the Out of Africa score soared over African drumbeats (corny but plangent), it was as if the ghost of Karen Blixen had been superimposed with images of the Kikuyu: one of the most beautiful collections of the season.
Where would Hedi Slimane, Saint Laurent’s creative director, be without street culture? Wellies, Barbour-esque jackets, oversized leather biker jackets, ripped sweaters over long bias cut dresses, skimpy mini dresses that don’t quite fit properly so, oops, your nipples keep popping out — this latest collection owed a debt to the festival teenager, and every festival trope was there, bar the Portaloos. Rich women who like the idea of down and dirty, but not the reality, will adore this, as they have from Slimane’s debut — you can’t argue with the sales figures, and those trench coats and boots will be catnip for fans. The audience as ever, was divided between Hedi’s disciples and Yves purists, who wonder what from the Slimane era will ever make the Saint Laurent archives.