Paris Fall 2014: Balenciaga, Balmain, Carven, Vionnet
The focus on Alexander Wang’s runway this season was texture. Cable knits came is latex or bonded leather, colorful striped dresses were made from woven Japanese polyester, a cropped sweater came in ribbed fur, muff pouches were made of woven leather, and pants came with zippers that ran the full-length of the leg. The latter, we imagine, will be a hot-seller not only for their distinctly cool look, but also because the slight bootcut in combination with the zippers had a flattering elongating effect. A school bus yellow Paddington Bear-style toggle jacket showed the latex looking cable knit, but a yellow woven knit coat with one raised lapel with leather piping and a black wrap bonded leather cable knit that came cinched at the waist with a big silver belt were the more covetable outerwear pieces, as were the long leather boots.
Speaking of accessories, Wang is taking Balenciaga into the accessories game, which is something he’s already mastered with multiple “it” bags and shoes for his own eponymous label. Cheekily, the models carried two to three at a time and sometimes in both hands. The bags were simple sleek ultra-lux leather versions of the classic shopping bag. Will they be the new “it” bag? It’s hard to tell given the simplicity of them, but given Wang’s prior successes it’s likely. The show closed with a series of half embellished turtle and scoop-necked grey and black knits sewn into silk evening tops paired with matching silk pants. The model that wore the last of this knit evening series? Gisele Bündchen. Mr. Wang, you are always full of surprises!
Quite a departure from Balmain’s airy denim confections for the Spring, Olivier Rousteing offered up a darker and heavier assortment of Fall wares at Balmain. This time around there was a clear military influence, translated through color ways of army green, black, and brown. However, it wouldn’t be a true Balmain collection without intricate adornment, which was delivered by ropes turned into tops and dresses. The way the strands were cut straight across the body and draped in strategic places felt romantic in a sense. The use of chain detail holding together stripes of leather and leopard print kept things edgy. Drawing attention to teeny waistlines is in the DNA of the brand, and it was a tradition that was steadfastly upheld this season, from green cinchers, to corset-like pieces, and a bold peplum with strong pleats. Considering the plentiful appearance of cargo pants, in silk and leather nonetheless, this just might be the maison’s most utilitarian collection yet.
The French woman is nothing if not intense and passionate, a point that was furthered by Fall’s Carven showing. The catwalk started off with one saturated hue after another like cranberry red, citron, cornflower blue, and pink salmon. The silhouettes were fluid, interrupted only by long silver zippers, thick waist belts, and hints of plush leopard. That colorful procession set the tone for the rest of the feminine collection, where not a single pair of pants could be found. Instead, strong black thigh-high boots were paired with delicate circle skirts and precious printed coats. This season’s cheeky motif included silhouettes of elegant hands and lengthy legs, in addition to little sparkling arrows. For those with no desire to don the girly pieces, the three mid-calf gowns that closed the show were slightly less fem, with more graphic prints and providing an option to cover up.
At Goga Ashkenazi’s Vionnet, staying close to the brand’s DNA is not a priority and it’s certainly not a rule. Sharp tube tops were shown in fur and turned into a peplum with help from two felt panels, while fisherman knits were given a blue coating and transformed into outerwear. A play on pleats was able to turn a periwinkle leather skirt into a sculptural staple and removed the drab feeling from an oversized grey dress. Proving that Fall clothing doesn’t need to be a mix of dark hues and desperation for warmer months to come, Vionnet infused lime green into most of their collection, from a pair of calf hair sandals to a loose jumpsuit. The color, when paired with a navy pin stripe, was decidedly boardroom chic, but when paired with stark black, equaled a no-nonsense evening getup. The appearance of tulips evoked the same feeling, as a blossom wrapped around the bodice of a gown accompanied a purple one shoulder dress. There were plenty of accessories to covet too, including a fur covered flat, scrunched socks, shapely purses, and very strong cheekbones. Whether this collection is donned for the Spring or the Fall, it’s bound to be a hit in any season.