PFW fall/winter 2020: What happened at the Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Miu Miu, Lacoste, Louis Vuitton runway shows
ALEXANDER MCQUEEN: QUEEN OF HEARTS
First impressions: In recent times, themes like 'inclusivity', 'sustainability' and such have been thrown around by plenty of brands, hoping to entice customers with attractive marketing speak. One of the handful of shows that actually included plus-sized models this fashion month, the Alexander McQueen fall/winter 2020 collection saw Paloma Elsesser and Jill Kortleve walk the runway in stunning dresses. This was Sarah Burton's love letter to women: their femininity, their kindness, their strength.
Favourite looks: Burton has the knack for taking traditional craft and giving it a couture-like spin. This season, she was inspired by Celtic folklore and their tradition of quilting and storytelling. Traditional Welsh love spoons, which are gifts lovers present to one another to represent their eternal love for each other, were another element that she incorporated into her clothing. The slim suits, sharp tailored coats, dresses that fit and flare, the leather pieces lace embellishments truly belong to the wardrobe of a modern-day warrior princess.
Favourite accessories: In designing this collection, Burton mentioned that she wanted this collection to be "heroic". And indeed, the leather belts and harnesses were the perfect counterparts to the frothy gowns that walked the runway, it that it helped showcase the different facets to a woman: soft yet tough, feminine yet strong.
CHANEL: A NEW FREEDOM
First impressions: There wasn't a beach, a train station or Parisian rooftop in sight. Perhaps in keeping with the sombre situation happening on the outside (anti-government protests were ongoing during PFW and Covid-19 meant the trimming down of guest lists for many shows), the set was kept simple, with mirrored flooring and curved black and white grandstands. The collection too, stepped away from the over-the-top extravagance that Karl Lagerfeld was known for, into a pared back, stripped down version of Virginie Viard's Chanel that celebrated a woman's desire for clothing that could be worn with elegance and ease.
Favourite looks: An amalgamation of casual and formal, the collection saw knitted sweaters and dresses, cropped versions of the classic Chanel jacket, long tweed coats, taffeta gowns and even pants that had rows of snap buttons down the sides. In keeping with the house codes, the collection was largely monochromatic, save for soft pinks and greens, said to be inspired by the silks worn by the jockeys of a racehorse Gabrielle Chanel owned called Romantica.
Favourite accessories: Costume jewellery is such an innate part of the Chanel DNA, and the Byzantine crosses and jewels that wound around the waists, wrists and necks of the models were something we're sure Coco Chanel herself would have adored.
MIU MIU: GLAMOUR GIRLS
First impressions: The invite we received was a plush and textured Art Deco card in red, white and black. This same design was seen on the carpets of the show venue, which stretched from the entrance of the building, all the way into the long mirrored hallway that would be the runway, where red velvet theatre-style seats lined the sides. We knew we were in for a treat and this collection was truly Miuccia Prada's ode to glamour and the screen sirens of yore.
Favourite looks: Old Hollywood glamour was brought to life in floor-length coats, lush leopard print, velvet dresses and empire-waist gowns encrusted with jewels and finished with sweet bows. The looks were further accentuated by careful waves that were worn by rockabilly girls, yet left undone at the ends so that it evoked a modern feel.
Favourite accessories: Mrs. Prada has the knack of taking something nostalgic and giving it a playful newness that makes her accessories an instant hit. We're predicting the big floral hair clips spotted on the runway will soon be seen everywhere, just like how the headbands from spring/summer 2018 (and indeed the padded ones from Prada's spring/summer 2019 collection) have been worn by just about everyone in the last year. Equally delightful were the glove and clutch pairings (old school elegance at its finest), and a new take on studded footwear.
LACOSTE: ON THE GREEN
First impressions: Lacoste is a brand intrinsically tied to the sport of tennis, but it is also, at heart, a sportswear brand that designs with an athlete's comfort and form in mind. Which is why it isn't a stretch to imagine the signature polo t-shirts and relaxed silhouettes from the fall/winter 2020 collection being worn on the green. On closer inspection, Louise Trotter revealed that her inspiration this season comes from Simone Thion de La Chaume, a French golfing champion who was also the wife of Lacoste founder, René Lacoste, explaining elements like the sleeveless knitted vests, gloves and even the mini golfing bags toted by both the men and women on the runway.
Favourite looks: It was a palette made up of happy colours, and though this was a fall/winter collection, there was nary a black in sight. With green as the dominant shade, the pieces were pastel and colour-blocked to perfection. As with last season, Trotter's eye for tailoring shone through in the unisex double-breasted suits, sleek trenchcoats and statement jackets.
Favourite accessories: The classic baseball cap never goes out of fashion. Worn colour coordinated with the rest of an outfit and elevated in a sturdy wool-like fabric, it's a chic, understated piece to have in your wardrobe.
LOUIS VUITTON: PAST VS. PRESENT
First impressions: This season, the show space might have been reduced and the set a simple black box with wooden floors, but there's no scaling back on one of Paris Fashion Week's biggest shows. Behold, rows upon rows of choral members dressed in historical costumes were unveiled as the curtain lifted, and as the audience applauded this marvel, 200 voices filled the air as 'Three hundred and twenty' was performed. The music piece, composed by Woodkid and Bryce Dessner, pays homage to Nicolas de Grigny, who as a contemporary of Bach, was never recognised by his peers, nor was he ever given a chance to perform at the Louvre. And oh, what a glorious homage it was.
Favourite looks: In looking back at history, Nicolas Ghesquière designed for now. The clash of eras, of different movements and various sensibilities gave birth to a collection that invites you to dress without attention to protocol. There were the sporty stripes from race car driving, the voluminous, layered skirts that simultaneously bounced and swayed with every step, and the matador jackets that presented a clash for the senses, a feast for the eyes. After all, what is fashion really, except a pleasure to behold?
Favourite accessories: Signature pieces like the Speedy and Keepall, have been given an aged patina and accessorised with new straps. The bags, some mini, some worn crossbody, and the boxes, all have that same vintage feel to them, as though they were treasures found in mum's wardrobe that have now been given a new, personalised spin. What's old is new again.