With the death of pioneering designer Paco Rabanne last month, it was inevitable that the label that still carries his name would offer a tribute. For autumn/winter, creative director Julien Dossena delivered a show that was filled with Rabanne's rebellious spirit in attitude, if not in looks.
Dossena looked to Salvador Dali for this season's collection, splashing reproductions of many of the Surrealist artist's famous paintings across full skirts and dresses, which were topped with structured and slashed torsos.
There were unexpected materials such as heavy-knitted metallics, as a cropped top over matching trousers, and a fabulous gold top with a shaggy shimmering silver skirt (and worn with trainers). There was mohair as skinny-fit coats and an off-the-shoulder cream dress. Gowns were made from ruched fabric, held in place with starburst brooches or embroidered hearts. There was leather, too, as a long pistachio coat lined with Mongolian lamb and as a sleek jumpsuit.
Rabanne became famous in the 1960s and 1970s for his experimental and innovative use of materials such as plastic, metal and Perspex. To close the tribute show, Dossena delivered long skirts and metalwork tops made from tendrils of gold, Perspex flowers and drop crystals. The final parade of looks were mini dresses assembled from squares of Perspex, oblongs of white plastic, and punched and hammered metal discs. It was a touching send-off to the great fashion pioneer.
At Balmain, creative director Olivier Rousteing also looked back to the core DNA of the house, joining the ranks of brands doubling down on their classics this season.
This meant a return to impeccable tailoring softened with oversized bows and, in an uncharacteristically quiet mood from Rousteing, simple pieces with a twist. A tuxedo jacket was deconstructed into an evening top with gloves in punchy red, and a sculpted dress in emerald green. There was a black waisted jacket and full skirt entirely studded in pearls, and an off-the-shoulder top in velvet, corseted in silk box pleats and worn over leather trousers.
Truncated capes came out in watered silk, worn over a velvet evening dress with draped detailing at the hip, and as a mohair wrap over more inky velvet.
Feminine pussy-bow blouses appeared, in mohair, denim and monogrammed silk, as did 1940s-era wrap tops in blue and black watered silk, with deep necklines and smothered in crystals. More crystal arrived as a full evening skirt that looked like it was covered in shattered glass.
This was a far broader collection than we are used to from Rousteing — certainly in terms of wearability — so we can forgive his signature caged looks creeping in at the end as a corset made from pearls, and an architectural dress with exaggerated hips that looked straight out of the 1927 classic film Metropolis.
Dries Van Noten
Already a master at eclectic understatement, Dries Van Noten, like many other houses, returned to the idea of simple, timeless classics, with pieces that felt like they had been recovered from a much-cherished wardrobe.
There were oversized men’s overcoats, loosely stitched at the waist to give a more feminine contour, and a loose trench coat worn open over a pinstripe skirt. There were pencil skirts with hems left frayed and unfinished, and coats with patches of glossy gold seemingly hand-painted on.
Square-cut skirts and dresses were given form by being pinned, stitched or knotted in the front, while translucent chiffon added length to mini skirts.
The collection was rich, warm and exquisite, and felt like stepping into a vintage store, where haphazardly beautiful pieces have been handmade and house-repaired without much concern for technique.