Born to frill
Flamenco ruffles and plenty of feminine flounce fluttered their way down the runway, most notably at Balenciaga, where Nicolas Ghesquière’s expertly executed collection was spot on. Thigh-high monochrome skirts with starched ruffles which looked as though they’d been carved with a butcher’s knife were worn with cropped white tees. Also note the Lolita-style slip dresses in two-tone prints with the requisite high waistband and shoestring straps – here’s guessing the high street certainly will.
Both Givenchy and Chloé showed soft, oversize frills adorning bare shoulders or cut-away, often asymmetric, necklines in pale pink, white and the creamiest buttermilk shades, while Hedi Slimane’s much-awaited debut collection for Saint Laurent raided the archives, circa 1976, to achieve a Stevie Nicks edge. The result? Tiered gypsy skirts with a Glastonbury feel, plus kaftans, capes and pussy-bow blouses (think Diane in Cheers) that nailed the wild-child appeal of the Almost Famous groupie with defiantly luxe undertones.
Into the light
Black was very much in evidence for a spring/summer season but, thankfully, there was sweetness and light at Dior, with candy-pink frocks decorated with girlish motifs, a smattering of bright canary yellow and layered, printed chiffon with a whimsical aesthetic. Riccardo Tisci’s latest Givenchy offering showcased beautiful, refined, yet somewhat robotic Valley of the Dolls femmes fatales. With a nod to Tisci’s Italian Catholic heritage, these sanitised goddesses sported clean-cut 60s shapes; the shift dress played a starring role, decorated with austere ruffles or cut out at one side to expose bare limbs, all in butter-wouldn’t-melt shades of baby blue, oyster and cream to counterbalance the sharp, sleek black ensembles. Dries Van Noten took a softly-softly approach to grunge with sheer print trousers and layers of gauzy fabric and Stella McCartney referenced the trend with transparent skirt hems.
With punchy orange cropping up everywhere in London and Milan, Paris ran with the trend as Stella showed mind-blowingly bright orange cocoon dresses and zesty Granny Smith green sweater and trouser combos. Green came into its own, as labels as diverse as Chanel and Chalayan whipped the environmentalist’s favourite shade into desirable lime shell tops with ruffled hems (Chalayan) and bouclé wool mini dress and jacket duos (Chanel). The blue-green snakeskin pieces at Hermès had a fresh, modern appeal and Roland Mouret’s rich, deep racing green was certainly envy-inducing, especially when spliced with bright white in graphic cut-out shapes or paired with tangerine and worn on his signature curve-hugging, tailored frocks and pencil skirts.
Let's talk about sex, baby. Well Raf Simons did, backstage after the Dior show and, frankly, there must have been something in the air. Flesh was flashed in abundance at Balenciaga and both Saint Laurent and Roland Mouret worked black leather into a form-fitting frenzy.
At the other end of the spectrum, loose, flowing clothing that’s high on the sophistication scale is having something of a moment. Never one for bodycon, Phoebe Philo at Céline showed super-slouchy slacks and long, loose layers (and, of course, those headline-grabbing fur-covered shoes). There were plenty of oversize tops with voluminous sleeves too, as seen at Chloé, where a clean, clinical white palette added to the sense of purity. We are our choices, after all. Surely Sartre would approve?
Isabel Dexter is a freelance style editor and contributes to the Times and Marie Claire UK.