Paris Fashion Week: pared-back Elie Saab and the sunny side of Hermes

From elegant practicality to 'fashion mayhem', here are some highlights from the spring/summer 2022 shows

Paris Fashion Week continues, with a hybrid of virtual and physical presentations. Hermes transported guests to the outskirts of the city, where it served up a stunning collection in an airport hangar, while Lebanese designers Elie Saab and Rabih Kayrouz stuck with the digital format to unveil spring/summer collections that reasserted their technical know-how.

Elie Saab

Dubbed Splendor in the Sun, Elie Saab’s spring/summer 2022 collection was presented as a 12-minute video. Filmed on the grounds of Paris’s Hotel Potocki, a former residence of Polish nobility, it was a relatively pared-back offering from the man best known for his embellished fairy tale gowns, and intended, Saab said, “for a new generation of women”.

An initial smattering of bold prints, consisting of interlocking lower-case Es, made way for crisp white shirt dresses, crocheted shorts and macrame lace sundresses, all paired with oversized sunglasses, flat sandals and beaming smiles.

Tiered column dresses offered delicate plays on transparency, while white tunic tops with delicate gold detailing around the midriff were paired with wide-legged trousers. It felt fun, carefree and comfortable, but also, in Saab’s trademark style, impeccably crafted.

An injection of colour came midway through the show, with one-shouldered flowing dresses in bold shades of orange and citrus green. Pretty pleats, asymmetric hemlines and painterly floral motifs built on the idea of effortless style. Structured strapless dresses with fitted bodices and voluminous midi-length skirts shimmered in shades of green and red, and evening dresses were fitted with billowing sleeves and capes, and slits that extended almost to the hip. Saab’s trademark embellishments made an appearance towards the end, on glimmering wraparound dresses with plunging necklines, and floor-length gowns in ivory and midnight blue.

Hermes

Hermes transported its guests to an airport on the outskirts of Paris, where its spring/summer 2022 collection was unveiled on a circular hangar and a plane landed in the background as part of the finale.

Designer Nadege Vanhee-Cybulski presented a collection that celebrates the idea of women moving freely in their clothes, combining practicality, comfort and sensuality in the form of drawstring trousers, structured bra tops and athletic silhouettes.

Set against a backdrop of burnished yellow, the collection was a sunny salute to post-pandemic dressing, with buttery leathers, soft knits, loose-fitting jumpsuits and sturdy thick-soled sandals and shoes. Gentle shades of yellow, dusky pinks and soft shades of orange dominated, with a smattering of subtle prints. It felt, above all, optimistic.

Maison Rabih Kayrouz

To present his spring/summer 2022 collection, Rabih Kayrouz took us behind the scenes of a fun-filled fashion shoot, starring a model dancing to the kitschy beats of Raffaella Carra’s 1979 hit Rumore, in a gold gown, duvet-esque dresses, high-waisted shorts and layers of denim. Structure and volume reigned supreme, whether in the form of billowing sleeves or oversized capes, serving as a reminder that Kayrouz is a master at manipulating materials.

In a poem shared on Instagram with the video, Kayrouz described a woman who takes her suitcase and flies away, prepared for any situation: "To walk through foreign streets / To venture forth on a safari / To dance under the stars / Her bag contains every key piece.”

Vivienne Westwood

Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood presented a typically eccentric collection that mixed glam rock references from Westwood’s 1980s heyday with historical musings and a healthy dose of humour. It incorporated plenty of deadstock fabrics, but also Kronthaler’s baby blanket and a cuddly toy from his childhood.

A cacophony of influences collided on the catwalk, in what has aptly been described by some as “fashion mayhem”. Orange boots that expanded into Michelin man-worthy chaps were held up by straps that wrapped around the neck, shirts doubled as turbans, and capes extended upwards and outwards as if attached to an invisible clothesline. Some may question the collection's wearability; few will dispute that it was a whole lot of fun.

Updated: October 3rd 2021, 2:03 PM