While the skies overhead threatened to pour, crowds were swelling in the Tuileries to get into the Chloe show. Even guests with an invitation were pushing and shoving to get through the gates. The crowd mentality gets hysterical quickly and no one is meaner than an anxious fashion editor! The Chloe show was worth the hassle. Hannah McGibbon was inspired by the ballet and her collection was poetic – from the neatly knotted hair buns to the flat slippers worn by each model. Like many other labels, she opened her show with an all-white outfit but there was something about her white banded coat over shorts that felt fresher, newer for some reason. It could have been the dewy natural makeup, and it was likely the flats (ballet slippers or chunky block heeled sandals) but it felt perfect for Spring. She checked off all of the season’s must-have looks – the white dress, the white shirt, the long pleated skirt, flat footwear, and a delicious palette of nude skintones. To brighten things up, she tossed in a sharp red topper – I would have liked to see her riff on that a little more – but overall, it was an outstanding collection by a designer who gets stronger every season. Just take note of Paris street style – denim shirts tucked into camel trousers, capes, wedge boots – it can all be traced back to McGibbon.
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Giambattista Valli is known for over-the-top excess for rich party girls. For Spring, he pared back the exuberance – except for the finale which was an explosion of sunny yellow petals or white tulle ruffles. At the start though, he presented fresh spare shapes – shift dresses with silver sparkle stripes, silver metal plackets or leopard prints. He played with lush embroidery on sheer panels and paired a wonderful white cotton shirt with a ruched and ruffled tulle floor-sweeping skirt. The big surprise was the flat slippers – more than half of the stiletto king’s shoes were flat sandals with silver ankle metal trim.
Yves Saint Laurent’s show is one of the biggest of Paris Fashion Week. Rumours were flying that Stefano Pilati, the collection’s Creative Director, was on his way out. Possibly to Giorgio Armani but who knows? What was apparent was Pilati’s dedication to showing a quintessential YSL look – sleek tailored suiting, strict jumpsuits that plunged to the navel and dresses edged with flamencoesque frills. The shoes were a dangerous affair. Unlike the flats spotted on every other runway, Pilati kept his footwear high. Gold wedges, shaped like doorstops (and could likely be used as a weapon), were mixed with coloured python block heels. A touch of whimsy was a fingerprint pattern on chiffon dresses. I loved the backless blouses secured at the nape with a giant bow and the surprise of a feathery fur jacket. The beauty was equally hard-edged: bleached eyebrows with no mascara and glossy magenta lips. Hair was slicked back and pinned up into a tight roll.
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“Confidently masculine tailored silhouettes in fresh pastels” said Stella McCartney’s notes for her Summer ’11 collection. She sent out slim shapes such as straight-cut boyfriend blazers with high-waisted cropped trousers and jersey polos in powdery pastels. Denim pieces followed and then a tiny citrus print on flowing pleated skirts. She injected a playful touch with an oversized citrus pattern in cotton tunics, trousers and jackets. It was a sleek practical look that was safe and understated yet sexy.
Stella dashed down the runway at the finale, and I dashed outside to hop on the bus heading south to the Parc Citroen for Ungaro’s spring presentation – the first from Giles Deacon. The setting was a glass house with flower-decked VW Beetles and models milling about in a pretty macaroon and champagne-soaked tableau. Deacon piled on the embellishments – lace, sequins, feathers, beading – in ultra-feminine cocktail dresses and gowns. Not for him the masculine tailored look coming from other runways, or the sequinned pasties from Lindsay Lohan’s disastrous collection last October. Deacon has put Ungaro back on the map as a must-have for rich ladies who just want to have fun.
I headed back into the heart of Paris to the Place Vendome, my favourite show location, for Giambattista Valli. I went backstage – an unfinished basement level space – to get a close-up look at the hair and makeup. It was an oven down there – no wonder the girls looked dewy. I especially liked the pink dusted white blonde short hair thanks to Orlando Pita. More soon!