The dark restraint that began with Milan continued into Paris Fashion Week, with the message that after the wanton excess of last season, autumn / winter 2019 will be an altogether more sombre affair.
Maria Grazia Chiuri delivered a striking collection: she riffed on the Teddy Girl wardrobe to explore the 1950s, and denim appeared not as jeans, but as a knife pleat dress. The Bar jacket was recut from tartan and teamed with quilted trousers; the leather jacket was rethought to mid-thigh, with oversized lapels. No Chiuri show would be complete without a slogan T-shirt, and the work of feminist poet Robin Morgan ran across tees proclaiming different sisterhoods, cinched with a belt and finished with a Lady Dior D. Every look was worn with a black bucket hat.
Anthony Vaccarello’s show opened with mannish coats that segued into suits worn without a top, giving way to super-short shorts, skirts and dresses, with fabulous crystals, ruched satin, beaded jackets and rakish trilbys. Decadent velvet came with gold beading and silken tassels were worn as necklaces. Le Smoking was reimagined into a severe-cut evening gown or sheared off into a mini dress. The blouson, a YSL favourite, gleamed in molten black Lurex. Elsewhere, Vaccarello’s all-black palette was interrupted by frothy tiers of feathers in neon pinks, green and orange.
John Galliano went for a more esoteric approach in a show that can only be described as a masterclass in tailoring or, more accurately, un-tailoring. Coats were not so much as worn by, as cocooned around models, seemingly stitched into sheaths of wool, while simple suiting was carved into double-breasted coats with oversized sleeves. A trench coat became a caped great coat, and a pea coat was sheared into a skirt. This was about morphing gender, with the line criss-crossed into oblivion. In the deft hands of Galliano, never has humble wool looked so good.
Bruno Sialelli made his debut with a collection that referenced medieval art, the life of founder Jeanne Lanvin and even Babar the Elephant. As disconnected as that sounds, the result was rather lovely. Lace-trimmed negligees came layered over striped tops, and billowing silk kaftans came in soft blues, dusty pinks and watery mauves all seeping into each other. A double L motif was introduced across dresses and on a shearling jacket, while the appearance of Babar and embroidered wildlife offered an injection of wit reminiscent of Alber Elbaz.
Nadege Vanhee-Cybulski kicked off with a studded, all-black ensemble, but being Hermes, this was less about attitude and more about luxury. Pencil skirts and suede shorts came with studs, before morphing into pleats down a side fastening, and finally becoming a halo around the neck. Leather was smooth, then textured and finally matte, carved into buttery dresses. A felted wool coat came with leather trousers, in spicy pumpkin, followed by a textured wool coat in cream and house orange, with an oversized squashy bag.
Jonathan Anderson delivered a quietly luxurious collection inspired by 17th-century miniature paintings. A cream blouse came with bishop sleeves and a cravat (underneath an olive green waistcoat), while elsewhere starched capped sleeves were teamed with silver-grey wool trousers and lace-up boots. Many models wore winged skull caps that lent a vaguely religious air, while pleated organdie was fused with ribbed knitwear to create fluid line dresses. The show ended with a simple black coat over a Restoration-era shirtdress with broderie anglaise cuffs and hemline.
Rami Al Ali
The Syrian-born Dubai designer took to the runways of Paris to present what he described as a 1970s-inspired show. This was realised in wanton ruffles and floaty bell sleeves – waves of fabric flowed across square necklines and down sleeves, culminating in a frothy melange of net, spilling down a sheath dress from shoulder to hem. The palette, too, nodded to the retro era, with shades of tangerine most notably as a layered net skater skirt dress, and an emerald green tuxedo that was sculpted into the waist and came with a gleaming satin lapel. Another disco-tinged colour was mustard, best seen as a blousy knife pleat Tuscan yellow dress, topped with a floaty mousseline beaded top.
Clare Waight Keller delivered a collection she dubbed the Winter of Eden, a verdant mix of sculptural tailoring and elegantly flowing silk. A lush green suit came with extra curves at the shoulder, while a double-breasted chequered coat was layered underneath an oversized duvet wrapper. More botanicals appeared as flowers across plisse layers and as silver fern tendrils on an off-the-shoulder evening top with vast bell-cut sleeves. Elsewhere, the same proportion arrived for evening wear, as an asymmetric sleeve in white taffeta over a tightly tailored demi-jacket, while a bodice-cut evening gown was embroidered with delicate beaded roundels that could have been inspired by dandelion heads. Ethereal and beautiful.
Pierpaolo Piccioli delivered an ode to love with multiple looks carrying images of that most passionate of sculptures, The Kiss. After the romance of his recent couture collection, Piccioli seems to have brought that same warmth to ready-to-wear – here as a loving embrace. Interestingly, even as voluminous coats, fluid tops and mini dresses were covered in the image, the cuts themselves were starkly understated. Gone was the frippery of last season, now replaced with tall bucket hats, and clean tailoring adorned with lines of poetry by Greta Bellamacina, Mustafa the Poet, Yrsa Daley-Ward and Robert Montgomery running across the clothing. Even the gowns – which Piccioli has made his own of late – were quiet in iterations of nude, milky grey and burnt umber.
Stella McCartney sent out show invites that were 100 per cent biodegradable, an ethical commitment that she held fast with a sterling collection. The show opened with a bulbous coat of burnt sienna wool laminated into faux leather patches. This was followed by a sleek dropped-shouldered faux black leather coat, and then a skirt interlayered with more glossy pretend skin. The first men’s looks arrived as a fake brown beaver coat over a nutmeg suit. Women, too, had deftly cut suits, with a light jacket tucked into high-waisted trousers, as well as a soft wool shirt dress under a collarless jacket in herringbone. The dresses were light, in shades of periwinkle, blush and primrose yellow, teamed with ankle booties.
Sarah Burton delivered a collection inspired by her own roots in the Derbyshire countryside in northern England, even using fabric and bales of wool from British mills as seating for the audience. Wool appeared, too, in the opening looks of sharp suits, cut to leave a length of fabric hanging from one hip (complete with selvage), before the tailoring continued through dresses carved into the net-lined layers, patterned in washes of earthy reds and browns. Elsewhere, Burton let her romantic side loose with a red taffeta dress, caught into great swirling roses – which was a nod to the War of the Roses, as were the fraying folds added to the shoulder of a pure white cotton dress.
All eyes have been on Chanel’s final presentation of Karl Lagerfeld’s work. At the Grand Palais, Cara Delevingne opened the show in a white tweed jumpsuit, setting the scene for a procession of tweed trousers and coats; black and white chequered waistcoats; knit jumpers in greyscale; and easy suits in boucle tweed. Floaty dresses in light colours followed, before evening wear began with slick black leather trousers and playsuits before giving way to white-sequined suits. Lagerfeld’s last visions of femininity finally arrived with Look 68 in the form of arctic white skirts with powdery puffs of marabou feathers. For the finale, the 72 models took to the runway, with many seemingly in tears, for this really is the end of an era, one that ended on a triumphant note. Congratulations Mr Lagerfeld, and adieu.