Balmain pulled off something amazing with its spring/summer 2024 show in Paris, showing a collection that had been remade almost entirely from scratch in just 10 days.
The reason for the rush was that on September 17, half of the collection was stolen in a robbery, forcing creative director Oliver Rousteing and his team to work around the clock to ditch those ideas and start over.
That the collection revealed on Wednesday felt fluid and coherent is a testimony to the extraordinary skill of everyone who clearly pulled out all the stops, to counter the disastrous event.
Starting with 1980s-style tailoring, as snappy skirt suits with big buttons, sculpted hips and wide shoulders, Rousteing introduced softness via skater skirts and pleated dresses of various lengths.
He also added flowers, first as fabric blooms added to handbags, around shoulders and necklines, then as oversize printed florals across structured mini dresses, before returning to physical petals again, most notably added to a mini dress covered in tiny slivers of mirror.
Taken together, there was a lovely contrast between the strict tailoring and the floral bohemia, which showed off what an extraordinary house Balmain really is to have pulled this together in such a short space of time.
At Marni, the show staged at Ville Lumiere had a runway that meandered through the house, around the garden and up and down the staircase in a charmingly Mad Hatter sort of way. The clothes followed this same eccentricity, starting as slimfit looks in white, tan and pale blue, growing in volume and colour as the show progressed.
What started as a floor-length pencil skirt, slung low on the hips, shifted to become a trapeze dress, to become just a shift dress in sheer, checked cloth and simple ballet flats.
In turn this was replaced with short, full skirts with hems held out with wire, falling in looping folds, as skirts, shirts and jackets grew is size to become more and more outlandish. In bright orange, deckchair stripes and wonderfully clashed checks (Marni's signature) these were all fun and uplifting, yet still lovely and wearable pieces.
Amid the bright striping and exaggerated volume, there were dresses made from hand-stitched flowers that were as beautiful as they were fragile, and three-dimensional metallic dresses of flowers made from recycled tin cans.
Dries Van Noten
Over at Dries Van Noten, men's classic striped shirting and sporting garb was remade into womenswear. Pale blue pin stripe was cut into a bralet top, the rippling edge of a dress and stretched into a wrap-fronted dress, while the wide stripes of rugby-tops appeared as a mini dress and snazzy knitted trousers, while the lined cuffs and hems of cricket whites turned up on tank tops and the piping on an oversized blazer.
This mixing of codes is what Van Noten does best and, as ever, a show that started simply became a masterclass in seeing the mundane anew as colours and patterns were pitched in ways that simply shouldn't work, but in Van Noten's skilled hands became fresh and covetable.