PARIS

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Usu­ally re­garded as the premier fash­ion cap­i­tal, Paris’ crown may be threat­ened by Milan’s cur­rent star turn, though it’s a city whose de­sign­ers con­sis­tently en­thrall. Paris has al­ways been a city with high tech­nique and cou­ture qual­ity, and in re­cent decades you can add an avant-garde sen­si­bil­ity to the list. Speak­ing of new blood at sto­ried houses, Paris has some of its own. At Ba­len­ci­aga, Demna Gvasalia pre­sented his first col­lec­tion for the house to rave re­views. Gvasalia has been the hot ticket in Paris for the last year and a half with his own fash­ion line, Vete­ments, where he el­e­vates typ­i­cal sports­wear pieces such as the sim­ple but­ton-front shirt or the trench coat with a uniquely art­ful and street-savvy sen­si­bil­ity. By mar­ry­ing this tech­nique with Cristóbal Ba­len­ci­aga’s his­toric sculp­tural one, Gvasalia breathed new life and a joie de vivre into fash­ion sta­ples. He re­worked puf­fer coats into fu­tur­is­tic cu­riosi­ties with fly­away and huge fun­nel-necked col­lars. Sim­ple skirt suits and over­coats had er­gonom­i­cally curved sleeves and shoul­der seams with ex­ag­ger­ated pad­ding at the hips, while ev­ery jacket from pea­coat to trench and ev­ery­thing in be­tween had dropped neck­lines ex­pos­ing the shoul­ders.

Ba­len­ci­aga’s for­mer de­signer, Ni­co­las Gh­esquière, has been han­dling the reigns at Louis Vuit­ton and is hit­ting his stride, em­ploy­ing his own brand of neo-fu­tur­is­tic sports­wear. Here scarf-printed silks and colour-blocked knits were han­dled in a Space Age man­ner when paired with mo­tor­cy­cle jack­ets and bondage pants. Cut­away mil­i­tary coats and jacket and knit hybrids rounded out the mix, some with those same ro­man­tic sleeves we’ve been see­ing else­where, though thanks to the abun­dance of black leather the ef­fect was more tough than sweet.

John Gal­liano, the in­fa­mous and very tal­ented for­mer chief at Dior, is now de­sign­ing for Mai­son Margiela, an­other favourite brand of die-hard fash­ion­istas with a love for sub­ver­sion. Gal­liano is no stranger to re­work­ing clas­sics as well. For fall, he twisted typ­i­cal mil­i­tary coats and jack­ets with black chif­fon flounces, spliced and mar­ried dis­parate striped knits, lay­ered translu­cent chif­fon over shine and cinched it all up with over­sized belts. The ev­er­spin­ning carousel of Paris de­sign­ers has kept ec­cen­tric­ity and in­ven­tion at the fore­front of the city’s trends, en­trances and ex­its in­deed.

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