Sometimes fashion can seem to exist within a bubble, completely oblivious to what’s happening in the world outside. But it’s generally at its most powerful when it does the opposite. On the runway, Alber Elbaz’s collection for Lanvin was in tune with the zeitgeist. He seems to understand that after five years of depressing headlines, people want to have a good time. The dreamy waiters carrying trays of absinthe cocktails helped.. The clothes were luxurious, and fun, and a little in your face. We’ve seen a good amount of shine this week but so far no one has taken the idea “there” the way Elbaz has. From start (a pink lamé blazer, silver blouse and glossy silk purple skirt) to finish (a shiny, micro-pleated LBD), every single look came down the runway in some form of gloss. And while on paper this may sound like the makings of an old Destiny's Child tour wardrobe, the clothes were actually more chic than over the top, in Elbaz’s studied, considered way.
The takeaway: All that shimmers is trending. See Lanvin, Dries van Noten, Dior, Maison Martin Margiela, and more.
Mannish tailoring will never go out of style
The sequined corsets peeking out from the top of tailored trousers at Maison Martin Margiela may have been the biggest Instagram hits from the show. But when it comes to what a woman might actually want to buy and wear, the winner was much quieter: a relatively plain, beautifully tailored trench coat deconstructed to become a dress. So simple, and yet genius — utilitarian enough for those rainy summer moments, and still entirely chic for dry days. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? Not to say that the house’s rarefied, conceptual spirit wasn’t there. Each look was built around the idea of the corset, which came down the runway in showgirl sequins and beadwork, and worn underneath mannish tailoring, which was often left undone and open at the back. It was a relatively tame, and surprisingly wearable collection from an art house that once showed a giant, two-dimensional wig as a coat.
The takeaway: Tailoring is perennially chic. See Maison Martin Margiela, Yohji Yamamoto and Viktor & Rolf.
Diversity on the runway
I didn't go to Rick Owens' show, but I got goosebumps when I checked Instagram and saw his usual cast of models replaced by a team of black dancers with strong, thick legs, dressed in his directional leather — women usually ignored by the fashion world (unless their names are Beyoncé, Ciara or Serena). In an interview with the Italian retailer Luisa Via Roma, Rick said he wanted to show a more inclusive side to his brand, which is actually incredibly rarefied and exclusive. So he hired step dancers, usually only seen at historically black American colleges and universities, and flew them to Paris. A few days later, Céline, which hadn't had a black model on its runway in five (!) years, included several faces of color in its cast. This is one week after Prada, which has long been criticized for its slowness to show a wider range of beauty on its runways, cast five black women and one Latina. Whether or not any or all of this was inspired by the letter that Bethann Hardison and her Diversity Coalition sent to the four fashion councils alleging racism in fashion remains to be seen. But I'd be surprised if it wasn't.
It's perfectly OK to replace your heels with sneakers
Once upon a time there was the lonely ballet slipper flat, adrift in a sea of stilettos. Then came her friends: the brogue, loafer and sneaker. Flats have been percolating as a trend for a while now, but I can't recall ever seeing so many rubber soles on a catwalk as I have in a single week. I blame Nike's Fly Knits, which have become the new brogue. Kenzo's show was filled with sleek, polished tailoring in aquatic-inspired prints. But Carol Lim and Humberto Leon interestingly styled many of these looks with bright, multi-colored running shoes, footwear that not only looked stylish and cool, but would make running from show to show a whole lot easier. Similarly, Phoebe Philo teamed a series of her directional dresses with a 2.0 version of her popular skate shoe. In a way, it feels wrong and brings to mind images of '90s career girls in power suits and pantyhose doing the big switch from their high heels to their Reeboks for the commute home. But the new version of the idea looks so damned right. Plus, nothing destroys a perfectly great look more than a woman limping down the street in high heels she can't walk in. All the more reason to consider swapping out those painful platforms for spring's sneakers instead.
The takeaway: Consider styling a dress with fancy trainers instead of heels. See: Kenzo and Céline.