"Parlay vous francay?" If you were to invent a story around what happened on the runway, it would be the story of a London girl — where the brand has an excellent foothold — coming to Paris and trying to fit in by adopting the city's dress code, flavored with her Brit love of lace-up boots and hardwearing fabrics like tweed. You couldn't escape the idea that this was the polar opposite of Vanessa Seward's collection, shown earlier today: a foreigner's Paris designed by French stylist Sophie Mechaly, as opposed to a French woman designed by globe-trotting transplant Seward.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Paul & Joe went back to its Gallic roots. This much was obvious from the Francophile vibe that came off the runway. Local It girls and even the controversial former First Girlfriend of incumbent President François Holland packed the front row. Two decades after launching her brand named after her two sons, Mechaly has expanded Paul & Joe into a mini-lifestyle empire that includes her main line, diffusion line Sister, own-brand beauty offering and now even a collaboration with homewear line Madura.
Taken individually, there are plenty of arguments to mistreat your credit card. A laundry list version would read roomy tonal check worker overalls; a bright red plaid dress; the fawn-colored coat that followed it; silk blouses with high collars and lavallieres; a fuzzy angora and lurex Breton stripe sweater; a shearling vest lined in a Liberty-esque floral. All excellent proposals, bound to do well in terms of retail. Installed as a go-to staple for the twenty- and thirty-something women who want some fun in their wardrobes, Paul & Joe caters to the whims of these pleasure seekers, offering uncomplicated items with a solid reality. En masse, however, it read like an expatriate's pastiche of a Parisienne, all beret and Breton stripes. There were too many ideas, pack higgledy-piggledy, firing on all cliché cylinders. Conversely, from the furious nods of approval all around, you get the feeling that this doesn't matter in the least.