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At Paris Fashion Week, it's a swan song at Chloé and a menagerie at Balmain

At Paris Fashion Week, it's a swan song at Chloé and a menagerie at Balmain
Looks from the fall/winter 2017 Chloé collection, the last with designer Clare Waight Keller at the helm. (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

Clare Waight Keller, whose six-year run as the creative director at Chloé officially ends later this month, presented her final collection for the label here Thursday, a collection filled with the kind of boho-flavored, romantic touches that the brand is known for.

The show notes described it as "delv[ing] into an edgy dream world of psychedelic optimism," and for fall/winter 2017, Keller took the Chloé customer down a retro rabbit hole with '60s-inspired mini-dresses, butterfly-wing collars and trippy, swirling prints that included mushrooms, flowers, butterflies and opium poppies.

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One of the most memorable patterns was a starry night sky — rendered in black and white — that, upon closer examination, turned out to include cameo faces staring out into the far reaches of the galaxy.

Going out on a high note, Keller chose the Human League's 1981 synthpop hit "Don't You Want Me" to accompany the runway finale. The standing ovation and sustained applause that came after she took her final bow for the brand was an unequivocal "yes" from the fashion flock.

Looks from the fall/winter Balmain runway collection at Paris Fashion Week.
Looks from the fall/winter Balmain runway collection at Paris Fashion Week. (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

A few hours after Keller went down the rabbit hole, Balmain's Olivier Rousteing took a road-trip-turned-safari through the Serengeti, along the Amazon and across the Western U.S., inspired by Nirvana's "powerful music of rebellion," as he put it in the show notes.

The resulting collection, rooted in black and dusky shades of orange, was a menagerie of animal prints, patterns and textures; tiger stripes, cowhide splotches, snakeskin scales, shearling and, most memorably, a final look that had Kendall Jenner on the catwalk in a leather dress that looked for all the world as if it had been fashioned from the skin of one single, particularly unlucky crocodile. (In my opinion, the only misfire in Balmain's super-luxe wild animal park were the shirts bearing the kind of kitschy wolf artwork you might have seen airbrushed onto customized vans in the late 1970s.)

Kendall Jenner in a crocodile-textured dress at the Balmain fall/winter 2017 runway presentation on March 2.
Kendall Jenner in a crocodile-textured dress at the Balmain fall/winter 2017 runway presentation on March 2. (Bertrand Guay / AFP / Getty Images)

Although the fall/winter 2017 runway collection was still filled to overflowing with the elements Rousteing has made a signature of the brand — leatherwork, intricate embroidery, beadwork, braiding, chain mail and fringe — there seemed to be ramped-up knitwear offerings (chunky turtlenecks, capes and swaying fringe-knit skirts to name just a few pieces) as well as some skirts in the mix as well.

The knits and an assortment of velvet pieces, including form-fitting black velvet tops and skirts with a gold dip-dye effect at the waist and fringed hem as well as a silhouette that has loosened up even a bit further from the spring/summer 2017 offerings, made for a collection that looked more wearable and comfortable than ever.

Unless, perhaps, you're Kendall Jenner's crocodile frock.

For more musings on all things fashion and style, follow me at @ARTschorn.

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