And then along came Paris…

by Katie on October 4, 2010

In this lacklustre season for S/S ’11 we’ve been shown everything from ‘Far Pavilions’ style, hot colour clashes of the Raj (Issa, Roksanda Illincic, Jena Theo, Matthew Williamson) to lurid neon brights (at Giles and Christopher Kane), the Futurism of Bernard Chandran’s collection and Todd Lynn’s glam, intergalactic Gattaca girls to stripes aplenty (at Marc by Marc Jacobs and Prada) and a raid on 1970’s frill, floral sensibilities and disco satin brights (at Marc Jacobs, Gucci and Peter Dundas at Pucci’s ode to Stevie Nicks).  Though all good, there have been few that have truly given the spine stingly, fashion moment shivers, even in Milan, the driving force behind trend.  And then came Paris.

Oh yes, we’ve had Miuccia Prada’s veer off course from A/W 10’s slick Mad Men’esqe covetable refinement to S/S 11”s “yes, we do indeed have bananas”, monkey print, Carmen Miranda folly, full on solid block colours or stripes.  For the first time ever at Prada, and it pains me to say this, I’ve had to say, ‘No, not for me, I fear’.  At Versace, Donatella slid back into a slick collection of body conscious, strappy brights reminiscent of Mr Versace’s verve and vitality in his glory days – fit for the  uber wealthy, intercontinental thin with tans.  Again, not for me.  Dolce & Gabbana’s simply beautiful white vision of expertly constructed  ‘sex on legs’ pieces in lace were stand out in their come hither purity – an awesome collection that had us appreciate vision with house heritage.  But it came down to last straw and Paris to wow the fashion cognoscenti and it wasn’t always the usual suspects who delivered.
You expect at least a few each season from the NY, London, Milan, Paris maelstrom..  You know, the energy building, the palpable excitement in the air, the clamour for first (twit) pics and quotes, the intense electric excitement in the room (which you can feel, even if you aren’t actually in the room) and the huge breathless chatter and relief that follows as you each recognise the ‘we have it’ moment – the trend, the direction, the point that changed the future editorial pages.  Raf Simons at Jil Sander was that moment.  (As I said, not the usual suspects).

Blimey.  What a show!  That was a long time coming.  Each outfit a vision.  Perfectly pitched with design and construction over over-styling, simplicity in execution and a completely new direction:  The evening skirt as a focus.  Pair with a simple white t-shirt and wowsah – instant couture construct glamour.  Simply breathtaking.  Simons bowled us brights but not garish.  These were refined brights that caught your breathe and made you pine with want for them.  Voluminous long evening skirts bulbed at the waist and tapered in perfect folds and drapes to a narrow ankle.  Clever that.  Reversing the proportions.  Or, flowed freely in huge billowing gathers of emerald green or Schiapparelli pink.  Then then there were the narrow versions that trailed, with huge ruffles at the waist in bright orange or black with yellow. 

Simons then took it further by introducing large print floral dresses and demure pink/white candy striped evening skirts paired with sheer, contrasting vertical stripe tops.  A beautiful, couture-like, strapless pink dress wowed.  To purloin a phrase from X Factor, ‘A million times Yes’.
Then we had Haider Ackermann (incidentally, a fellow student of Raf Simons at The Royal Academy in Antwerp) who showed an assured, edgy collection with guts and dynamism that paired punk sensibilities with couture chic and cut a bold swathe through so many ‘samey’ collections.  Leather biker jackets were taken as the basis and transformed into folds and ripples of wantable dresses, tux trousers with gilets and teamed with flowing, long skirts with a hard, fast edge a la Simons (at Jil Sander). 

Although bright colour appeared, black on black looked lean and new.  This was YSL sleek for the noughties, an urban couture dangerous affair of immense proportions.  A Red and black swath of silk evening jacket teamed with ruby trousers hinted of Chinese ’30’s Mandarins.  Ackermann’s twist was making the back detail as important as the entrance: long trailing swathes of silk contrasted with intricate bows contrasted with his hard edged frontism.  A brave new direction.
Galliano wowed as only Monsieur John Galliano can.  This collection actually made me longingly teary. 

Fin de Siecle heroines posed and preened on a collection based on  1920’s con artist, Maria Lani but with her and many of Galliano’s girl of guises from past collections thrown in and heavens above (as angels danced from awnings at the Comique Opera where it was staged), it was a fashion moment. 

Visions from Matisse, Chagall, Modigliani and Giorgio de Chiricio acted on the catwalk amidst dry ice.  Snakeskin coats worn over delicate chiffon dresses with Stephen Jones’ heavenly head pieces.  

Silk chiffon gold skirts worn with lace layered blouses and bomber jackets.  Wide harem pants paired with supple leather biker jackets and vintage floral clashes, Chinese silk dressing gowns and layers of chiffon and tulle had me aching to wear Galliano again. 

Genius as only John knows how.  Deconstruct these pieces from the dramatic staging and setting and these are wearable, seasonless pieces – vintage collectors’ items of the future.  As every Galliano collection is.

There’s a lot more from Paris to follow.

Catwalk pictures supplied with the kind permission (of the world’s best fashion magazine), Vogue Italia:

If you’d like to leave a comment regarding the S/S ’11 collections or anything else, please comment in the box below.  I’d love to hear from you.

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