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.