In what turned out to be the week's most gorgeous show, Karl Lagerfeld created an ivory, aquatic wonderland complete with a set made up of giant, seashells and coral reef; a live performance from Florence Welch; and most memorably, models dressed in ethereal dresses, suits, separates and swimsuits that looked like shimmering saltwater pearls. Lagerfeld's collection was a standout moment because of its sheer size. Few designers today can produce such a large collection (a whopping 85 looks) with a singular vision that doesn't look repetitive and maintains a couture-level quality from beginning to end. Every single piece had a subtle, underwater reference: drop waist dresses with scalloping that resembled scales, trim tweed suits with pearls tracing the waistline, iridescent trousers that brought to mind the smooth interior of an oyster shell, and foam-like chiffon ruffled skirts in frothy pink. It was a universally pretty collection, with a rarefied sensibility. And the excitement in the room was palpable. In short, this is what Paris Fashion Week is meant to be.
In many ways, Chloé is a difficult house to take on. It still hasn't fully recaptured its glory days when Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo made it the epitome of feminine cool. And even though its most recent creative director, Hannah MacGibbon, put her own clear stamp on the house (it was she who ushered in the Seventies comeback), her work never attracted the same must-have-it-now level of obsession that the brand had going for it before. Enter Clare Waight Keller, the latest Brit to move into the French house, who debuted her first collection for Chloé on Monday. Her clothes had the breezy femininity the house has become known for in the form of drop waist dresses and soft, chiffon pleats. But she tempered the girly-ness with with cotton t-shirts and button-down blouses that were slightly tomboyish. It was a sweet collection, but it felt more like a quiet arrival than a momentous debut.
After last season's vampy, sex kittens Riccardo Tisci's quieter, romantic clothes for spring looked like a palette cleanser. Gone were the black cat graphics, latex and sheer skirts. Instead, he produced tailored jacket and short combos (a definite trend for spring) and trouser suits in the softest pink. They were wearable and practically sweet, a word you don't normally associate with Givenchy. Not that the designer completely let go of his dark, subversive side. A series of slinky, mini dresses with strategically placed sheer cut-outs that revealed naked breasts underneath were classic Tisci. Overall, it wasn't exactly a directional collection that established new trends in the way we've become used to seeing from Givenchy. But he pushed a few popular ideas forward, such as the peplum, which he remixed by rendering them in asymmetrical shapes and exotic skins. The collection could have done without a series of glittery disco bright dresses and suits, which looked more flash than substance.
Yves Saint Laurent
How do you show a collection in Paris, when you have been dogged by rumors about your job security? For the past few seasons, each of Pilati's collections have been shown against speculation that his days at Yves Saint Laurent are numbered. But if the stressful circumstances caused internal chaos, it didn't show on the runway. His sophisticated A-line coat dresses, elegant trouser suits, romantic cocktail dresses and dramatic evening gowns were all beautifully constructed and seemed to pay homage to the history of the house. Pilati's jewel toned collection was cool and polished, perhaps too much so. Many of the clothes, such as his crisp jacket and skirts that opened the show, came off as cold and clinical in a way that Yves Saint Laurent was never really known for.