Trend-wise, Paris Fashion Week turned out to be a lot like — but not exactly like — what came out of New York Fashion Week last month. There was a definite '80s vibe by way of strong-shouldered looks and neon colors, but the labels showing here weren't rigidly fixated on the past or particularly hung up hewing to traditional codes of dressing either. The result was an assortment of chimerical couture that ranged from lingerie-inspired daywear to suits, dresses and outerwear that had been sliced and sutured back together in a Jekyll-and-Hyde fashion.
Below is a look at that and a few of the other trends that came down the runways in the City of Light during the fall and winter 2018 Paris Fashion Week shows, which kicked off on Feb. 25 and ended March 6.
Pops of purple
Make no mistake, the bright pinks that were New York Fashion Week's big color story were in evidence here too — most memorably at Valentino and Alexander McQueen, but here, pink was joined by pops of purple in shades ranging from lilac to eggplant.
At Givenchy, Clare Waight Keller's Night Noir collection used darker shades of the color to create an inky, oily aesthetic, shown on a band-collar men's button-front shirt and a tiered plissé soleil gown that evoked the image of film unspooling from a movie projector. (Givenchy is one of a growing number of labels that has combined presentations of its menswear and womenswear.) The color also appeared on a range of accessories from the label, including a new maxi-clutch bag called the Gem.
Other notable punches of purple came by way of Giambattista Valli (a ruffled, floor-length gown and patent leather over-the-knee boots); Redemption (metallic houndstooth-check tuxedo jackets, asymmetrical skirts and silk halter dresses); and Miu Miu (most memorably a fuzzy V-neck sweater and fringed scarf in a near-electric shade as well as leather pants, jacket and a miniskirt in a lilac hue).
There was a slew of silver on the fall and winter 2018 runways — some by way of accents (silver hoops the size of earrings all over Altuzarra's cable-knit sweaters and the shiny, pointed metal toes of Isabel Marant's over-the-knee cowboy boots as examples), and others by way of whole garments that used reflective foils and coated leathers.
The Paco Rabanne chain-mail-and-paillette-filled runway collection was one of the heaviest on the metal, not to mention the loudest. (The clothes coming down the runway sounded like a handful of car keys rattling around in a Pringles can.) However, the gold medal for overabundance of silver goes to Balmain's Olivier Rousteing, who used a range of silver metallic fabrications to underscore the future side of his retro-future collection.
Standouts included the opening look, which consisted of a form-fitting top and slightly baggy trousers crafted from a shiny silver foil material that wouldn't look out of place in a fire safety blanket or a Mylar balloon factory. Others were a strong-shouldered ensemble that added a layer of shimmery holographic color; and a biker jacket and cropped-trouser combination in diamond-quilted, silver-coated leather.
Cocooning, captivating coats
Outerwear was big on the Paris runway this season, literally as well as figuratively, and anyone on the hunt for a statement-making coat come fall will have plenty of options, from Isabel Marant's chunky/cozy blanket-stripe coats, coat dresses, vests and ponchos that paid homage to the American West to Givenchy's glamorous and generously cut faux-fur coats.
But the most eye-catching coats of the week came by way of Demna Gvasalia's latest collection for Balenciaga. Inspired by the idea of dressing for extreme weather, the whole show was built on the notion of layering. It began with close-to-body shapes and ended in exaggerated, bulky pieces that fused up to nine pieces of outerwear into a single garment. Memorable examples from the runway included a leather jacket "layered" over a diamond-quilted plaid button-front and shaggy neon-pink faux-fur coats "layered" over four ski parkas.
Now who says florals need to be confined to spring and summer collections? Certainly not the labels who brought bouquets of flowers to their fall and winter runways. They included Dior, whose '60s-flavored Youthquake collection had floral embroidery climbing across skirts, dresses and trench coats; Dries Van Noten's delicate doodles that resembled vintage botanical etchings; and Thom Browne's bumper crop of gray flannel rosebuds.
Designer Pierpaolo Piccioli doubled down on all things floral at Valentino (and turned out one of the most breathtakingly beautiful collections in the process) by not only using joyful exploded floral prints and embroidered appliques on dresses, skirts and caped hoods, but also by giving many of the more voluminous pieces scalloped sleeves and hems that heightened the floral feeling.
At this point, the notion of duality — male-meets-female, soft-meets-strong, underwear-as-outerwear — is essentially an overdone fashion trope that hardly merits mention. However, a couple of labels managed to give the notion of duality — a melding of opposites — a fresh twist for fall. One was Sacai, where designer Chitose Abe managed to mix-and-match disparate garments into wild but wearable hybrid pieces that included a navy blue blazer (on the left side) and a jean jacket (on the right) or a half-and-half flight-jacket-meets-brass-buttoned pea coat.
Thom Browne also served up a couple of half-and-half pieces (jacket on the right, bustier on the left, that sort sort of thing) that showcased exquisite tailoring as well as some underwear-as-outerwear pieces. All of it was grounded in gray flannel, of course. Some dresses had bustier-like details and others were festooned with garter-belt straps that connected to the scissored-off tops of gray flannel trousers, creating a hilarious homage to the "droopy drawers" streetwear look.
At Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton used the notion of metamorphosis — as in the life cycle of scarab beetles and butterflies that begin as one thing and end up as something quite different — as a way of exploring hybrid dressing. The result was a collection of fierce and feminine clothes — one of the week's strongest.
It wasn't so much the multitude of beetle and butterfly references that made it so (hey, if a tulle dress hand-embroidered with three-dimensional Goliath beetles is your jam, all the more power to you). It was the organic way one type of garment appeared to organically and elegantly flow into another. It was how one double-breasted overcoat became a fringe-trimmed horse-blanket skirt below the waist and how a masculine-looking peak-lapel tuxedo jacket flared into something quite different — and feminine — thanks to black-lace inserts that fell to the knees. And it was how softness met strength in a red leather corset married to a tulle skirt.
There was one butterfly-themed piece in the collection that had wings — literally and figuratively — that combined a black, peak-lapel tuxedo jacket with draped and wrapped pink silk that tiered and ruffled from the waist into a thigh-length skirt in the front and became a butterfly-shaped bow on the back of the jacket. What were the tips of the butterfly wings in the back were bold shoulder ruffles in the front.
It was a showstopper that was as simple as it was stunning, a perfect union of masculine-feminine, soft-strong and light and dark. And it will almost certainly be winging its way to an awards-show red carpet in the not-too-distant future.