Paris Fashion Week saved the best for last: How Valentino, Chanel, Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton gave us goose bumps
VALENTINO: GOOD ROMANCE
In popular culture, a woman in love is hardly portrayed as a woman with strength. She's often needy, clingy, at someone else's mercy, eating out of their hands. Her outfits one-dimensional, sweet saccharine, equally lacking in imagination. The amorous Valentino woman, as imagined by creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, could not be further from that stereotype. He put it this way: "Being romantic is a way of living life." As such, he committed to "giving form to the freedom of being, subverting clichés" this fall/winter season. The resulting forms were structured, with room for fluidity. The silhouettes were clean, though the lines weren't always straight and perpendicular. The designs were pared back, but not without texture and intrigue. Below the cloud of pink, Piccioli planted amaryllis, zinnia and hibiscus over the meeker daisy or the more common rose, blooming large and proud over capes, toga dresses and bubble hooded coats. Their anthers dangled long and rendered heart-shaped with sophisticated (as opposed to corny) intentions. Trousers were preferred over skirts — standouts on their own, but a vital proclamation of identity when sent peeking out of crochet tunics, pleated skirts and blood red ponchos. Unfussy colour blocked ensembles were graced with scallop detailing. In the end, it was a look smacked somewhere between the running green colourplay and the midnight fringed leather that captured our hearts. Here's a shout-out to that certain sheer knitted bishop sleeve powder puff gown, complete with ruffled hems. You are a vision.
CHANEL: RETURN TO ROOTS
Walking in the sun towards the Grand Palais on a crisp morning, we thought of our most prominent memories of Chanel as of late, to try to guess what Karl Lagerfeld might bring to the final day of fashion feasting at Paris Fashion Week. There was the rocket ship from precisely a year ago; the great fountain making sense of the PVC accessories in stores right now; the supermarket from 2014 which saw Cara Delevingne at her peak modelling days, and Rihanna grocery shopping in the Chanel Shopping Centre trolley. The Chanel show, we realise, is almost a guaranteed Instagram spectacle, though occasionally guilty of robbing the clothes of their shining moment. This fall/winter, Karl dialled back. Somewhat. He may have imported trees, autumn leaves and dirt into a more intimate show space than his last few ventures (it even smelled like the great outdoors), we get the sense that the Kaiser is aching to tame the circus in favour of focusing on the simple act of making truly time-tested beautiful clothes. And beautiful they were. Reflective of the fall theme, a case was made for gold (and rose gold) lamé, seen on flat boots, leaf appliqués on that high collar army coat, button down full skirts and ribbon drawstring trousers. The leaf motif (most of which in jewel tones) was persistent, seen on a majority of the 83 looks, spanning boyish blazers, relaxed collar skirt suits, and two standout blazer dresses with looming silk lapels. Very pretty. The hooded dress came as a surprise, though in hindsight it shouldn't have. To this day, Karl speaks a language far more current than a lot of designers with greater age advantage; his aptitude for the now ever apparent in the aforementioned sporty zip-up dress, a crop jersey top, those "dressed down" tweed-lined down jackets and practical patent oxford shoes. There were also, of course, the little black dresses in the finest of French laces. Elevated, in only a house with Chanel's prestige can, with fingerless neon gloves and folded tote clutches — a strong contender for the 2018 It-bag award. Mark our words.
MIU MIU: GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN
'60s beehive heads. Acid wash denim with rubber waistbands, belted twice in black and brown leather. Punk-rock tweed and houndstooth bomber jackets, size XXL. Mock collar knit scarves, fringed, inked in neons. Mega sleeved, mega ruched patent leather outerwear. Horn-rimmed micro cat eye sunnies. That little pink brocade cocktail dress which fabric looks playfully borrowed from the leftovers at her older sister, Prada's studio, circa spring/summer 2018. Naughty, naughty! Clearly, the Miu Miu girl has always known how to have fun. But for the first time ever, at the fall/winter 2018 show lies the suspicion that maybe she's had a little too much fun. Contrary to the headlines you may have read this morning, actress Elle Fanning's runway debut wasn't the only worthy scoop to come out of the outing. Unbeknownst to the other sections of the loopy runway, we at section C were schooled on the tough life of a model, when one in the line-up turned the wrong way, threatening to clash her into her army of Miu Miu-clad peers. Crisis was averted when a kind Samaritan on the front row stopped her in her tracks to tell her what we assume to be some variation of, "You're going the wrong way". If this type of shenanigan happened at another show, it would be branded a clusterf*ck quicker than Miuccia Prada can say, "Merde!" But because this is Miu Miu, and because the confused models who, by the looks of their suppressed smirk, found the humour in the situation, made light of a potential disastrous situation, it all ended in good fun. To be honest, if her outfits are any indication, the Miu Miu girl is a little bit lost in her own world anyway — and we mean that as a very good thing.
LOUIS VUITTON: WHERE WORLDS COLLIDE
Is time linear or cyclical? Is there such a thing as past, present and future, or as suggested by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity, space and time is a four dimensional structure, wherein the events of yesterday, today and tomorrow could be unfolding concurrently, reacting to and influencing one another? Just the thought of it gives most physicists headaches, what more us mortals, but it's a subject Nicholas Ghesquiere braved for his fall/winter 2018 collection at Louis Vuitton. He transformed the Lefuel Court at the Louvre into a space time continuum, joining the two majestic ramps built some 800 years ago during the reign of Napoleon III with his futuristic berth which mimicked the look of a spaceship landing. It wasn't a coincidence the runway was laid such that the models emerged from the historical structure and walked into and out of Ghesquiere's platform, only to disappear again. We're in the Louis Vuitton world now.
Impressive as it was, the set was just the tip of the iceberg compared to what the clothes tried to convey. For one, the house logo was given a Star Trek redesign, seen on the power-shoulder jumpers and dresses — their science fiction qualities interspersed with a touch of 19th century regal ruching, stained glass velvet and capelet-leg of mutton hybrid sleeves. Last season's Archlight sneaker was intentionally missing. Ghesquiere cheekily left traces of its design on the Twist bag and the corsets, as if to insinuate that they would be/are the source of inspiration for the making of the shoe. Yeah, we're knee-deep in the time warp debate. Speaking of the corsets, taking after the "ugly shoe" made them less suppressive and more sporty glam, since Ghesquiere juxtaposed them with intergalactic sequin work, retro collars and all. It's what we imagine Elvis would wear... if Elvis lived in the future and he was a woman. Come to think of it, in the Louis Vuitton alternate universe, he might very well be.
All coverage from Paris Fashion Week fall/winter 2018.
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