It’s amazing how you can start the day in a beautiful relaxed bohemian daze (Chloe) and end it sitting on a foam cube in a cult street-sports scene (Off/White). And somewhere between that traverse the future’s answer to streetwear (Paco Rabanne); fall down a rainbow-filled rabbit hole (Manish Arora); see the new state of sexy courtesy of fashion’s most social style master, Olivier Rousteing at Balmain; catch the new take on Marant tradition (padded, quilted, jumpsuits, and floral); and fit in some stalwart names to the schedule, too: Ann Demeulemeester for some lyrical and layered charm, and Rick Owens for a softer and more approachable take than we’re used to seeing from him – though this is something which has been gently slipping in and developing over the past few seasons.
And that was Thursday. But then this is Paris. And no matter the umbrella "heritage" reputation it may have, it’s a varied and vivid fashion scene.
Paule Ka Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris
“Paris is the best city for those in fashion – all the couture houses are here and the novelties in design start here,” reflects Alithia Spuri-Zampetti, the young Central Saint Matins graduate and newly-installed name at Paule Ka. She’s right. The novelties, the movements, the moments begin here, which means you can go from the gentle to the avant-garde to the high octane. From the archives to the future in one fell swoop.
Chloé Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris
So let’s start at the beginning. Chloe: bib-front collars, breezy silhouettes, knotted sleeves and smock tops, babydoll shapes and voluminous shapes; this was a really lovely and really perfectly girly collection from Clare Waight Keller, bringing a soft and romantic layer to the brand’s signature bohemian essence. “The Chloe girl is effortless, calmly considered, at peace, in control. She doesn’t clutter, but rather invests in finer details,” noted Kim Howells, fashion director of Hunger magazine, post-show. The details to be found here were of the nautical or ever so slightly equestrian variety – knot ties on shoulders and big buttons for the former and gorgeous little dinky bracelet bags the latter. These will be the wrist candy that everyone is coveting next season. They might not be big enough to put your phone in, but that’s really not likely to be a problem. Because you always need that out to tap away on anyway. This is just to look good.
Paco Rabanne Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris
From the accessible and whimsical to the future and fostering it, it’s no wonder that Julien Dossena is such a hyped name in fashion right now – it’s hard work rescuing an iconic brand from the brink and he’s managing to do that (for a time Rabanne had a revolving doors situation when it came to creative heads), combining a casual cool with trademark chandelier dresses to riff off the house’s signature sci-fi sensibility. Hoodies and T-shirts combined with slinky-sexy dresses, the key here was building that iconic look up through contemporary separates. Accessible and clever. Two words that Olivier Rousteing also seems to have at his beck and call.
Balmain Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris
There’s no escaping his fashion cult status. And as a result he has perhaps even more of a tricky task on his hands: making sure he doesn’t stray too far from his recipe for success. It has to be sexy and it has to be brave and bold, but how do you make that seem fresh each and every time? But then does he need to? His answer was to flash the flesh a little more demurely; here there were layers and lots of belting to be found – a trend we saw really take off in Milan – and poncho-cape silhouettes. An earthy palette graduated into those bold stripes that have become a classic Balmain style sensibility; it was still high octane with urban traveller appeal and all his girls had signed up for the adventure.
Manish Arora Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris
Speaking of which, Manish Arora took us on one of his own, too. Sunglasses on, hold on tight, because this was an out-of-this-world fantasy that involved My Little Ponies and a Care Bear colour palette. “I just wanted to take all the clothes off with me to a festival and follow it to the end of the rainbow,” enthused singer Shingai Shoniwa of the band Noisettes as the vivid finale, all sequin strewn and glitter-smattered, made its way out. “I really loved it – it was really uplifting, really colourful, flamboyant, the kind of thing I would definitely wear on stage.” There came knickerbocker glory bags, dirndl-doodled skirts, paradise vistas splashed out in sorbet and saccharine shades, egg yolk brooches, a blue Chihuahua, and candy floss hair. “I think you feel a sense of heart – his heart really comes through, the playfulness. I feel the kid in him just never dies,” continued Shoniwa. It won’t be for everyone; it’s not meant to be.
Isabel Marant Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris
The type of woman who has Manish hanging up in her wardrobe is not the type of woman who has Isabel Marant in there too. A beacon of a certain sense of French cool, Marant’s H&M collection way back when almost caused as much hysteria as the Balmain collaboration did, such is the balance of wearable with fashion direction. Here she gave us florals and quilting for that inverted silhouette she so finds favour with, adding wrapped belts to amplify it, as well as corsets on the outside, too. Something that was started by Prada last season, a few designers have dabbled with this – it’s still a semi-on-the-fence styling note, because it feels contemporary when fashion folk do it because it’s a season ahead but looks a season behind on the catwalk, because of Prada last season. There were frills and ruffles aplenty, denim and boilersuits; it was a more casual but sexy approach from Marant with lots to like and update those who love her blend of Paris cool.
Off-White Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris
Casual and cool – in different ways – is of course the calling card of Off-White’s Virgil Abloh, who took the neatest end-of-show bow as he slid own the handrail of the catwalk’s sweeping staircase. Shirting unravelled, hoodies and jumpers went with humbug-toned skirts, booties shone with sequins; it was that ultimate mash-up that fashion is really into right now and for which Abloh has found himself a poster boy. And we really wanted to steal the foam cubes we sat on.