Fantasyland: Chanel, Givenchy, And Alexander McQueen At Paris Fashion Week
Instead of offering the sporty chic of New York, the catwalks of this year’s Paris Fashion Week rivaled the scenery and storyline of a child’s fantasy storybook. Typically the more traditional of the big four international fashion weeks, this week designers opted to move away from the seriousness and toward playful, mystical shows. The mecca of high-drama couture inspired styles certainly did not disappoint, providing the grand finale after the month-long unveiling of next season’s fashions around the world.
It seemed the only thing missing in Karl Lagerfeld’s Spring/Summer Chanel show was a treasure chest. The catwalk was transformed into an underwater sea kingdom, complete with a wall of bubbles and oversized white seashells, seaweed, and coral made of fiberglass, which looked as if they were dusted in a sea salted layer of dust.
The otherworldly show featured ethereal colors and a lot of combinations of unconventional fabrics. Models clad in sea foam-esque frothy chiffon-puffed skirts, liquidy clumps of slick black ribbon lining, spongy tweeds in lustrous colors, and other fabrics floated across the runway. Nearly every single model was covered in pearls, not only as jewelry pieces, but also as closures, belts, and hair adornments to complement the slick, wet hairstyles of the models.
Lagerfeld wanted to recreate the label’s iconic designs in the most high-tech materials available today. Iridescent sheath dresses, made from polyester shot with fiberglass and paper, according to Lagerfeld himself, reportedly weighed “literally 3 grams”.
Many fabrics also played with the idea of transparency. Lagerfeld drew inspiration from the play of sunlight shining through the ocean floor; it was all about reflections and movement of nature underwater.
While there was no question that Lagerfeld was aiming for an underwater adventure, in true Chanel fashion, the entire collection was not overdone or obvious. There were no sailor stripes, no anchors, and no navy and white colored anything. But would you expect anything less from the most well-known man in fashion?
The sea theme continued at Riccardo Tisci’s Givenchy show, this time not through the design of the runway, but through the scenery painted by his collection. Tisci’s inspiration, pulled from mermaids and surfers, was apparent in every piece from start to finish.
Tisci didn’t rely on dynamic colors or prints, but instead placed focus on tailoring. The jackets were immaculate, from the detail to the fit. Razor cut shirttails mimicked dorsal fins. It was clear that Tisci wanted to bring the ocean to the audience.
Perhaps out of character for the seemingly dark designer, a distinct softness partnered with his typical hard-edged designs in this collection – an unusual concept for the Italian. Pastels ruled the runway in hues of salmon pink, khaki, and crème.
Exotic materials were everywhere: soft chiffons shared the runway with eel skin-esque leathers and tight, second skin pants that from afar could pass as deep sea diver wetsuits.
Pairing spike-heeled sandals in chrome and black with oversized shark tooth pendants in gold and silver added a fun element to Tisci’s water wonderland. Iridescent sequins resembled fish scales. Watery ruffles of fabric echoed ocean waves. Even the tiny black dresses were reminiscent of the deepest depths of the ocean.
Besides Gisele Bündchen, the star of the show was the wearability of all of the pieces. Tisci’s collection was ultimately one of the most traditional collections he’s presented in a long time. Expect to see this collection on girls who crave edge with a slight touch of softness.
Sarah Burton’s third showing for Alexander McQueen continued the sea dream. After the tragic passing of Lee McQueen, founder of the label, the fashion world looked to Burton to add a softer touch to McQueen's trademark harsh, but beautiful darkness. For this collection, Burton reverted back to the roots of the brand, combining fanciful, ornate construction with bondage-inspired designs.
In a somewhat royal, somewhat risky fashion, Burton created looks that the average woman couldn't wear, but would dream of wearing in her wildest regal fantasies.
The same detailing from this collection was reminiscent of the wedding dress designed by Burton for Kate Middleton in this past summer's Royal Wedding, but even in her wildest dreams, the Duchess of Cambridge couldn't pull any of these looks off.
The details alone looked as if they took months of planning, not even including the actual construction of the pieces. Lace was present in almost every look, most notably, the full-head covering masks, turning models into mermaid-like figures. There were evening gowns covered entirely in pearls. Barnacle prints were present, along with oily black appliqued leather. Intricate ruching and fabric gathering resembled coral, fresh from the sea floor.
Burton truly proved to the audience that she was the right choice to take over the brand, and it seemed as if the audience agreed. Burton recieved some of the most positive reviews of any collection during the entire week.
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