Paris Fashion Week: The Apple Watch is more interesting than fall fashion

On Monday, the world was riveted by news about the release of the Apple Watch as the tech firm announced details about its official entry into the luxury market, with 18-karat-gold versions of the wearable device starting at $10,000 to begin shipping April  26.

So far at Paris Fashion Week, designers haven't come up with anything nearly so compelling -- not a silhouette, a handbag or a shoe to approximate Apple's label lust.


The way people hunch over their iPhones, madly Instagramming every show, texting friends or plotting their next meal, the fashion industry should be terrified of the competition. Because more than any other brand, trend or idea, Apple is defining the times and reaching for the future.

No one is doing much reaching on the runways this season. Hedi Slimane's Saint Laurent collection has always been about the remix, the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1990s and this season, the 1980s.

As the lights went down, the floor went up, raising the runway to the rafters in what must have been the season's most expensive set trick. The original piece of music composed for the show this time was "Pretty Boy" by the Felines, but the look was pretty girl punk — full skirted polka dot dresses, tight leather minis, crinoline skirts, ripped fishnets, cat's eye makeup and all, mixed with Hedi classics such as biker jackets, slashed leather pants, slim line suits, fur capes and car coats and single-shoulder mini dresses, one cut low enough to intentionally reveal a breast. (Why?)

At this point, Saint Laurent is what it is. Slimane has hooked the cool kids (Mark Ronson, Lou Doillon and Cara Delevingne were just a few of the notables in the front row) and Saint Laurent sells, maybe not like Apple, but almost. Listening to retailers talk about it, no one blinks twice.

At the Paris Opera Monday morning, Stella McCartney revisited her old familiar, the masculine/feminine theme, except the results were more streamlined and sexier than in past seasons.

Pretty sleeveless tops and dresses spliced with tweed and rose gold brocade and built on a corset silhouette slid suggestively off one shoulder. Sculptural black wool dresses also sent seductive cues, slit up to there, dancing around the hips, and worn with molded pearl necklaces. There were also belted coats contoured to the waist worn atop chic flared pants with ruffled hems and covetable brocade velvet booties.

Heavy ribbed knit dresses were less convincing with those extra-long, single sleeves reaching past the hands. (Never mind the heaviness of the fabric, how do you eat?)

And, not one to let animal activism stand in the way of joining the over-the-top outerwear trend, McCartney showed some fierce "Fur-Free Furs," big, bushy, faux beasts that would do Nanook right.

Speaking of over-the-top outerwear, it was looking like that's all we were going to get at Chitose Abe's Sacai show when one supersized coat after another came out—a pea coat, tweed coat, car coat and more — each with patches of downy fur peeking out from the cuffs, collar and hems. But by the time a quilted leather parka appeared swinging macrame fringe, followed by three fun riffs on the colorful Baja hoodie (two dresses and a zip front coat), I wondered if Abe was playing with the idea of weather extremes, which have certainly been on display during fashion month, from the 16 below zero temps in New York a couple weeks ago to the 50 plus degree temps in Paris this week.

If she was, the idea was never fully realized, which made this collection seem a bit flat. But there were still several interesting, just-the-other-side-of-classic pieces, namely white button-down shirts with cable knit sweater sleeves, and pleated white shirt dresses cinched with utility straps.

The day's hot new designer debut was at Hermes, where Nadege Vanhee-Cybulski, former design director at the Row, showed her first collection for the French house.

Riding jackets with contoured hems and removable quilted linings inspired by saddle blankets, high-waist corduroys and a scarf print silk and leather wrap skirt with a touch of '70s elan felt like newish spins on horsey Hermes classics. But the moment I spotted the pair of black leather overalls (sure to cost as much as a small car), worn over a crisp white shirt, it really became clear that this was a designer with a point of view.

Strong lines, vibrant color and quirky details such as a modernist sautoir necklace worn against a beautifully minimal, high neck, ivory silk seamed knit dress, were highlights.  And the new Octogone handbag was unlike anything Hermes has ever done before, an emerald-shaped box bag with a webbed strap. Not an Apple Watch, or even an Hermes Birkin yet, but a start.


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