Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Paris Fashion Week Diary FW18

This season, I headed back to Paris for Paris Fashion Week, which is fast becoming my favourite city to skip around for shows. I first attended PFW last March, I wrote about being a newbie and finding my feet in this post. It was slightly disconcerting going from knowing the ropes in London to being uncertain in Paris but I actually relished all of the unknowns - from the venue to the queue politics to the street style photographers.

Now back for my second season, I came armed with the knowledge I had gained during my inaugural season. And you know what, it felt like coming home. Hopping and skipping across the city between shows and showroom appointments felt like my natural habitat and I had a much more packed schedule than the first time around. Want to see what I got up to? Read on! 

Issey Miyake FW18

I was extremely honoured to attend Issey Miyake's AW18 show. One of my favourite designers through the '90s, his brand is always technically innovative while never compromising on its foundation in the beauty of simplicity. Perhaps best known for pleating, Miyake began to experiment with pleating in the '80s and his new method involved cutting and sewing each piece before sandwiching it between layers of paper and being fed through a heat press to be pleated. The fabric's "memory" held the pleats and each piece was super flexible and easy to care for. Revolutionary. 

This season, womenswear Creative Director Yoshiyuki Miyamae introduced gentle movement and waves to amplify the pleats, complete with a dash of colour to further accentuate the house's signature texture. A beautifully clean all-white collection made way for yellows and blues, a bold symphony of harmonious pleats. 

Mashama FW18

Mashama's AW18 collection is an ode to tender yet strong women. Inspired by Satoshi Kon's anime film 'Perfect Blue', she takes the split personalities of the protagonist, Mima, and translates them into a beautifully maximalist collection of overflowing layers and oversized pieces. 

Key details include exaggerated hoods, deconstructed and voluminous silhouettes and the most delicious bubble puffer jackets. The collection also saw the introduction of denim and several technical innovations including a colour-changing coat, heat-absorbing patches and body-warming puffers. The perfect armour for the woman of today. 

John Galliano FW18

As Creative Director of the John Galliano brand, Bill Gayyten has an unenviable task. It can't be easy to be at the helm of a brand named after arguably one of the most brilliant designers of our time. Yet Gayyten artfully translates Galliano's design signatures season after season. To my delight, this season saw the return of the Galliano Gazette, perhaps one of my favourite signatures of Mr Galliano. 

For FW18, he is inspired by the Great Depression in Midwest America and burlesque stars of the '30s and '40s. The resulting collection is a contrast between practical tweeds and denims and beautiful tulle concoctions adorned with diamonds and pearls. Further accentuated by the styling, sheer layers were artfully juxtaposed between boxy blazers and heavier fabrics for a look which is provocatively undone. Another utterly brilliant collection. 

Agnes B FW18

Few designers on the PFW roster are as quintessentially Parisian as Agnes B and this is why her collection is always one of my highlights of Paris Fashion Week. This season, inspired by A Une Passante poem by Baudelaire and Marguerite Duras' book L'Amant, her collection featured rich fabrics accentuated by jewel tones. Her laid-back silhouettes felt typically Parisian and super covetable. The bridal look which closed the show this season was a darling pretty millennial pink concoction. 

Valentin Yudashkin FW18

Set in the imposing Intercontinental Paris The Grand hotel, Valentin Yudashkin's show was a triumph of almost couture-like beauty. Gowns and cocktail dresses in tulle adorned with sparkles and ostrich feathers trims shimmied down the runway, each more beautiful than the last. A handful of daywear looks grounded the collection but all eyes were on the gowns. A nod to the '80s, with bold shoulder blazers, taffeta puffball dresses contrasting with slinky bodycon numbers. I can't wait to see these looks on the red carpet. 

Richard Quinn Showroom

Undeniably the designer of the moment, I popped in to see Richard Quinn's exquisite collection in all it's resplendent detail. You may remember Quinn making headlines as HRH The Queen sat front row at his AW18 show. The Central Saint Martin grad has been making waves since he launched his eponymous label in 2016. Best known for his bold and emotive use of florals, his penchant for prints really IS groundbreaking. 

His AW18 collection featured languid maxi dresses, simple gowns and oversized capes and puffers in his signature prints - blown up and clashing for a real style statement. I am very, very excited about Quinn, he is the future of British fashion! 

London Showrooms

As I mentioned in my last post about Paris Fashion Week, one of the most interesting aspects of Paris is heading into the showrooms to see collections up close. Although I see most of the London designers in our hometown, inevitably I will miss a show or presentation due to the packed schedule so it's great to catch up with the likes of Eudon Choi, Edeline Lee, Ryan Lo and Marta Jakubowski.

Eudon Choi FW18
Edeleine Lee FW18 
Ryan Lo FW18

Marta Jakubowski

Jaime Wei Huang

Huang is another British-based designer I caught up with during a showroom appointment in Paris. Unfortunately, I missed her presentation in London but I'm so glad I had the opportunity to see her brilliant collection. Walking the line between commercial and conceptual, Huang's brand explores self-expression through fabrics and materials. I saw influences of abstract art in her collection, which featured her signature elongated silhouettes. The accessories were a real highlight. 

Alexandre Birman FW18

Alexandre Birman has been making beautiful shoes inspired by his rich Brazilian roots for a decade. Simple and feminine, his shoes are handcrafted in bold shades and prints making for a real style statement. For AW18, his collection featured exotic materials and both vibrant, clashing shades and rich plums and greys. 

Alexandre Vauthier FW18

If you are after unapologetic glamour, Alexandre Vauthier should be top of your list. Designing couture for the likes of Thierry Mugler and Jean Paul Gaultier before launching his eponymous label in 2009. Officially recognised by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, his couture collections are of course sublime and echoes of this collection are evident in his RTW line. 

Using his key couture colour stories of rich ruby red, regal violet and deep emerald, the collection featured exquisite, luxe pieces in rich, heavy fabrics and often adorned with some sparkle. Inspired by the '80s, his signature dress silhouette is short, cinched and of course with a statement shoulder. I'm glad to see his crystal-studded jeans make a return and also the introduction of an eyewear collaboration with Alain Mikli and diamante stiletto designed with Amina Muaddi. 

The Fun Stuff

One of the best things about Paris is that absolutely everyone is in town. The fashion world really is tiny and I'm forever bumping into people I haven't seen since London or Paris last season! I have a little crew who I know are going to be at PFW so we sync diaries for shows, showrooms and delicious places to eat in between but it's slightly more fun when you bump into someone unexpectedly.

This season, I was in town at the same time the new Monki store was opening so fortuitously I had the opportunity to catch up with my old pal Fiona, who I've not seen for years! I popped into the new store on Rue de Rivoli before heading to Le Grand Cerf for a bite to eat and some bubbles. She loved my sequin boots and t-shirt dress by Tobi.

I also caught up with my pal Natasha of Girl In The Lens who moved to Paris last year! We've been blogger pals and friends for a few years now so it was lovely to catch up with her at Angelina, for their famed hot chocolate and une petite patisserie. 

Til next time, Paris! 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

My Paris Fashion Week diary

As I mentioned in my previous post, I attended Paris Fashion Week for the first time last week. It was wild. For the first time in a long time, I was flying solo while attending the shows. I didn't really know where the venues were. I was mainly allocated standing tickets as I didn't really know the PRs. It was all brand new. I'm in a fairly privileged position in London, I've been blogging and attending the shows for a long time so I haven't really experienced any of these things for a long, long time.

I felt somewhat like the new kid in class, slightly awkward and unsure. And you know what, I really enjoyed it. There was something really liberating and grounding about being new and starting from the bottom. My time in Paris was a blessing and I really enjoyed going along for the ride. Here are my highlights from Paris Fashion Week:

Lutz Huelle AW17
I was super stoked to attend Lutz Huelle's AW17 show, my first in Paris. If his name seems familiar, it's because Huelle has been putting in work at Margiela's Artisinal label and at Max Mara Group as a consultant, winning the ANDAM award twice and winning the Ackermann Pret-a-Reporter prize at GWAND.

His AW17 collection built on his decontextualised aesthetic; some pieces were heavily deconstructed and some looks mixed grunge sportswear with evening wear. The shoulder was his flourish, oversized, puffed or rolled, as long as it was a voluminous statement. The puffer reigns supreme next season, cut very slim with an unexpected combination of fabrics from houndstooth to Fair Isle. The Margiela connection was easy to see and executed beautifully.

Veronique Leroy AW17
Taking place in the iconic Palais de Tokyo, Veronique Leroy's show was a hot ticket. The show opened with an incredible amber crushed velvet jumpsuit. Experimenting with velvet and denim was a fresh direction for Leroy, who's name is more synonymous with knitwear albeit with a touch of eccentricity. earthy abstract prints and gunmetal lamé with dirty pastels in ruched minis and tapered trousers contested with teddy bear shearling for a super chic, covetable collection. 

Agnes B AW17

Set in the iconic Les Invalides, resting place of Napoleon, Agnes B's show had a very grand feel, preempting a journey though women's fashion over the last 100 years. The show opened with long, conservative, utilitarian wartime silhouettes in muted colours and the odd jewel tone. The fabrics were heavy and luxurious, contrasting with the feeling of liberation for women in the interwar period - women in the workplace was a huge step forward for women's rights.

The interwar period was followed by boyish looks in will trousers paired with chic loafers and Italian suits, which contrasted with the the more feminine side of the period, gorgeous cashmere gloves and a beautiful velvet dress dress with an arm shawl.

And then the music changed, the time period was fast forward 60 years. A feeling of Carnaby Street in the 60s with leather trousers, cute combers, and geometric prints felt very punk and mod. The 70s followed, with burnt oranges, chevron prints and a touch of suede.

The show felt like a true celebration of women, and of course, I loved it.

The showrooms

The Paris showrooms are extremely different to London. In my beloved London, fashion week is squeezed into just 5 days between New York and Milan. The pace is relentless and 12+ hour days are the norm. Some days, it feels like I'm ping ponging across the city between shows, presentations and showrooms like the Road Runner from the Looney Tunes. I only get a glimpse of each collection.

Paris, by contrast, stretches over a week and is much more commercial in nature. This is where all of the selling and buying takes place, which is why visiting showrooms is key for the international buyers who flock to Paris. All of the London designers and PRs decamp to Paris for this season. I didn't have time to pop into the BFC London Showrooms but I did spy some of my favourite London designers in other showrooms alongside some incredible designers from the likes of Canada, Russia and Korea, which gives you a flavour for how international Paris Fashion Week is.

The food

While I was visiting Paris for fashion, I obviously indulged in some delicious food too. My Air Bnb was situated in Pigalle, my favourite neighbourhood which has a ton of amazing places to eat, including Buvette, Hotel Amour and Rose Bakery. I got a super early Eurostar over to Paris and headed straight to Hotel Amour for brunch in their conservatory, which is the prettiest space in Pigalle. I also discovered a new bar to add to tried-and-tested favourites in the area. Le Mondian is a cute little neighbourhood bar with a great rum selection AND the most beautiful cocktail in all of Paris.

Away from "my neighbourhood", I also had the BEST vegetarian grilled cheese sandwich at Mabel, a grilled cheese sandwich shop at the front and a kick ass bar at the back. A favourite with Parisians, it's only a hop and a skip away from Bourse metro station.

For more comprehensive recommendations, check out my Ultimate Guide to Paris post.


Friday, 3 March 2017

Bonjour, Paris Fashion Week!

After a glorious, wonderful 14 seasons at London Fashion Week, I have the urge to try something new. So I'm skipping over to Paris today to experience my first season at Paris Fashion Week. Keep up to date with my adventures on Instagram

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Paris Fashion Week: Louis Vuitton SS12

Louis Vuitton has done a compelte 180, going from a suped up, super sexy, fetish-inspired autumn/winter 2011 collection to the gentle, sweet and fragile spring/summer 2012 collection. The pretty, watery pastel colour palette is reminiscent of a box of sugared almonds while the use of lace and broderie anglaise heightens the saccharine nature of the collection. I'm sure the oversize lapels and exaggerated silhouettes will become the look du jour next season. Another triumph from Mr Jacobs. 


Saturday, 9 October 2010

Paris Fashion Week, Gaultier, Crystal Renn and the plus-size debate

Beth Ditto taking to the runway for Gaultier is arguably one of the most talked about moments of Paris Fashion Week, well besides the mind-blowing Chanel show. Although designers have used plus-size models in shows in the past, but what made this so revolutionary is Beth is size 28 whereas the average plus-size model is a mere size 12-14…not so plus-size when you compare it to the average dress size in the UK. Just one example from last season is Mark Fast, who used three or four size 12 models in his show. There was a lot of buzz and debate after the show but rather than helping to normalising the use of these models, it felt a little like Vogue Italia’s all black issue – a publicity stunt for column inches rather than a genuine statement to the industry. It’s sad when a designer’s team needs to resort to model casting to cause controversy. I wouldn’t call size 12 plus-sized, voluptuous or overly curvy; it’s just a normal size .Yet one stylist reportedly walked out over it.

And what about Gaultier? Well, Gaultier has been a supporter of using plus-size models for a while; he’s used both Crystal Renn and Velvet d'Amour in the past. The show invite promised to explore the contrast between XXL and XXS, I’m not surethis promise was actually fulfilled. I also think that perhaps Beth should have been designed something to complement her figure rather than a flowery, frou-frou top. Think Christina Hendricks in Zac Posen at the Emmys, the size issue just melts into the background as the world is bowled over by how drop dead gorgeous she looked. Christina is said to have had difficulty finding a red carpet gown to fit her famous curves as most of them are sample sizes. Zac Posen came to her rescue with his gorgeous gown.

Beth Ditto in Gaultier, Christina Hendricks in Zac Posen, model in Mark Fast
Zac Posen makes a gorgeous gown and loves curves. He’s been using Crystal Renn as one of his models for a while. Unsurprising as she has become the poster girl for plus-size models in the fashion industry in recent years, many designers including Gaultier and Chanel have used her in recent years. Her career began when she was just 14 and almost immediately she was pressured into losing weight, she was told to lose a third of her body weight in order to make it as a model! Eventually, due to health reasons, Crystal stopped dieting and her agent entered her into their plus size category. Fast forward a few years and she’s become the most successful plus-size model in the world. Or has she? Over the past few months, there has been much debate about her ever-shrinking frame. Reports on her dress size vary so widely that I don’t even want to use them and campaign shots are always subject to airbrushing. Instead I’ll post an image of her at the Gaultier show in 2010 and one from 2005. I think it’s clear that Crystal has lost a lot of weight in the past five years, something she attributes to a hiking trip in Patagonia.

Crystal Renn in Gaultier 2005, Crystal Renn in Gaultier 2010
I’m not here to speculate why she lost weight and whether or not it was due to industry pressure. I think it’s sad that more people pay attention to her dress size than her beautiful face and that she’s had her most successful season walking 1 show in New York and 3 in Paris – but only after she slimmed down. What’s also sad is designers still using ‘shock’ casting of plus-size models to cause a buzz. I understand why designers prefer to use slimmer models but I don’t think that needs to be a size 0 or even a 2 or 4 for that matter. Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, recently asked for fashion to move away from ‘shock’ casting and use models which are a (UK) size 10 rather than an 8. This is something consumers have been crying out for but thus far, the industry simply teases with the odd campaign or show featuring a handful of models. 

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Givenchy Spring/Summer 2011

I love Riccardo Tisci and I love Givenchy. I love that ferocious, gothic Givenchy has embraced a slightly softer side as wisps of sheer fabrics wafted in the models' wake as the glided down the catwalk. Tisci's collection has been infused with leopard-print, either touches of leopard print to his tailored pieces or entire leopard print dresses towards the end of the show. Normally, this print seems to scream luxury and wealth, but in this collection it looks a lot more subtle and cooler than it ever has, leopard print is suddenly made very modern. I love the contrast between monochrome and leopard print, of sharp tailored pieces and ethereal, sheer draping. 

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