Paris Fashion Week: Best and worst of the weekend

A model walks the runway during the Stella McCartney Ready to Wear Spring / Summer 2012 show during Paris Fashion Week.

The most unrealistic expectations: Kanye West’s debut

On the one hand, his Paris Fashion Week debut lived up to the unreal amount of hype surrounding it. His small runway show was a painfully exclusive affair with a guest list that read like one giant front row: Anna Wintour, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Alexander Wang, Silvia Fendi, Azzedine Alaïa, Dean and Dan Caten, Olivier Theyskens, Jared Leto, Lindsay Lohan, Ciara, Joseph Altuzarra, Terry Richardson — the list of fashion insiders, power editors and designers goes on and on. West has been clear about his intentions to avoid being typecast. His fashion credibility was loud and clear, but the quality of the clothes on the runway was inconsistent. The collection felt like summer one moment with sexy, dresses in white that had skin-baring cut-outs, and winter the next with heavy fur embellished jackets and thick embroidered tops. His slouchy trousers seemed to hang on the models in unfortunate ways, but an opening leather jacket and skirt looked sleek and edgy. Bottom line, just because a person goes to a lot of fashion shows and spends time with a lot of very important fashion people, doesn’t necessarily mean that he can design a cohesive collection.  That said, Kanye’s soundtrack, which included Waka Flocka Flame and the Fugees, was hands down the best of the week.

The least surprising moment: Isabel Marant’s sporty separates

Marant, in part, helped spark the season’s obsession with all things athletic. (Remember her hugely popular varsity jackets from last year?) This collection featured more of her effortlessly cool French girl fare complete with cotton jerseys, batik skinny jeans and patchworked tees and dresses. But it would be nice to see her evolve out of this look, which has been a huge retail hit but can sometimes seem repetitive. The show’s strongest moments came with the pieces that seemed completely fresh and new for her, such as the opening chunky, multi-colored knits and a series of sheer, delicate lace dresses and tops.

The most weather appropriate dresses: Sonia Rykiel’s airy pieces

Only the house of Sonia Rykiel can make knits look light and breezy. Paris was literally burning hot all weekend long, with editors suffering through stuffy venues that had no air-conditioning. But Rykiel’s pretty, pleated knit dresses; cool, slouchy suits and flirtatious playsuits looked like just the thing to wear in such steamy weather conditions. The collection, which was the first from new creative director April Crichton (Sonia’s former right-hand woman), also included some of the sweeter interpretations of the season’s popular drop waist dress that we’ve seen all week.

The most glam track suit: Lanvin

Alber Elbaz is probably the last person one would expect to reinterpret a track suit, but his slinky version for evening, which featured digital graphics of a serpent coiling its way up the legs and torso was the height of cool. Meanwhile loyalists, will love this season’s version of his trademark shift dress, which had bejeweled three-dimensional snakes winding around the shoulders and neck.

Sexiest collection: Stella McCartney’s leg-loving looks

For spring, Stella McCartney continued the seductive streak she started for fall, only she replaced last season’s body-con, sheer dresses with crisp, A-line dresses and coat dresses that re­vealed miles of leg. They were sporty with a flourish; each look came with contrasting colored swirls that surfed their way along the hemline and up the torso. The visual detail was also used to update her trousers suits, which have by now become a staple in every collection.


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