Contemporary styles, gender-fluid garments, beach-ready designs and spectacular show locations stood out at Paris Fashion Week. Fani Mari reports on the key looks for spring/summer 2019
Season after season, Paris Fashion Week is the key hub for classic, elegant collections that reflect the effortless je ne sais quoi of Parisian style. For spring/summer 2019, we saw even the most classic designers showcasing more contemporary collections, staging immersive experiences, and bringing together fashion and art. Celine was the talk of the town, as expected, with the unveiling of Hedi Slimane’s high-hemmed, sparkling and somewhat divisive collection, his first after his appointment as creative director in January 2018.
Despite the many coats, darker shades, and heavy fabrics seen on the Parisian catwalks this season, many designers clearly reminded us which season we are working towards; and it is definitely summer. The highlight had to be Chanel’s final collection from the late Karl Lagerfeld. The design icon’s last creations for the fashion house brought the beach to the Grand Palais, where models donned raffia hats and carried leather bags shaped like beach balls – all guaranteed to sell out quickly.
Chloé took a retro approach to beachwear with knitted white cover-ups, high-waisted bikinis, and nautical-style rope belts. When it comes to raffia accessories Jacquemus certainly didn’t go unnoticed; alongside oversized hats, we saw substantial rattan bags in beige, khaki and burnt orange, to carry all your beach essentials. Big beach bags and knitted beach cover-ups were also seen at Sonia Rykiel, who was known as the Queen of Knitwear; creative director Julie de Libran takes the brand’s legacy very seriously, and constantly reinterprets knitwear in her collections.
With many brands embracing unisex collections, it was only a matter of time before Parisian designers took note and began to work with gender-fluid lines. Clare Waight Keller set the tone on the Givenchy catwalk with men and women wearing the same clothing – apart from the dresses reserved for female models. Femininity remained strong throughout. Waight Keller took inspiration from Annemarie Schwarzenbach, a Swiss writer who dressed in androgynous clothes in the 1930s, well ahead of her time, artistically bending the boundaries of dressing.
For cut and style that transcend boundaries, it should come as no surprise that John Galliano at Maison Margiela got it just right. Oversized, deconstructed clothing was cut the same way for both male and female models; a skirt cut from the remnants of a cape, for instance, showed a strong focus on craftsmanship. At Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquière continued his mission to empower women, presenting armour-like oversized clothing, Joan of Arc sleeves, and masculine clothing worn by female models with androgynous features.
At the other end of the spectrum is ever popular animal print. The prints more usually seen on the Parisian catwalks are ultra-feminine florals; this time around the designers strongly promoted leopard print. While not a new trend, it’s definitely making a strong appearance this season. At Balenciaga, Demna Gvasalia paired boxy leopard faux-fur coats with white leather pointed heels, proving the 1990s are back for yet another season.Saint Laurent’s Anthony Vaccarello offered a retro aesthetic; his transparent midi dresses with deep décolletage and high-waisted mixed-print bodies showcased Parisian sensuality in all its glory, against a strong set design with models ‘walking on water’ by the Eiffel Tower.
Even Off-White couldn’t steer away from animal print, but Virgil Abloh always adds his own personal twist, in this case a fluorescent green animal print accent seen on dresses, coats and even gloves. Elie Saab transmitted his usual elegance in silk ensembles with an added sporty vibe, as did Rochas, and Giambattista Valli upped the ante with fur trousers paired with a maxi fur coat in matching animal print.
Whether you prefer to combine elements of menswear and womenswear, are a new or long-term lover of animal print, or you prefer to spend all summer at the beach, the Parisian catwalks are a great source of inspiration for the new season.