The multi-city circus known as fashion month has come to an end with Paris, arguably the most directional and forward-thinking of all the cities (just ask all the New York designers who decided to take their shows there), giving us some of the best clothes for fall 2018. Here, we review the standout collections from Paris Fashion Week.
1. Alexander McQueen
Sarah Burton’s affinity for nature, one she shared with Lee McQueen, has consistently been a point of entry for her. This time the designer celebrated the vast complexities of the natural world. Though the motifs were of a “hyper-real world” per Burton’s show notes, the silhouettes were grounded in realism and wearability. Commercial appeal hasn’t been always in the McQueen vernacular but manifested itself beautifully for fall 2018.
2. John Galliano
Bill Gaytten spun a tale fit for the Galliano Gazette — part madcap flapper, part tabloid newsman, part traveling circus showrunner — Gaytten looked to Depression-era notions of glamour and wanderlust this season. He revived the Gazette print, splashing fake news onto slip dresses and lingerie. Galliano’s girl is up for playing with notions of gender — a mannish tweed car coat thrown over barely-there tulle. It may not be breaking news but a devil-may-care attitude and some deliberate dishabille always exude glamour.
Trekking to Paris has done Joseph Altuzarra good. His fall collection was edited and focused. The designer started with sharply tailored workwear, done in a various iterations of pinstripe, that read power woman without the dated Eighties vibe. Silver grommets dotted chunky knits and matte leather separates and gypsy peasant frocks with ruffle hemlines and dusted in sequins rounded out the collection.
Pierpaolo Piccioli looked to the most universal symbol of romanticism for this season’s inspiration: the flower. While most designers are all too aware of the rise of streetwear culture, Piccioli’s woman isn’t casual. A waterlily bloomed on one model’s shoulder, a dahlia burst on another’s torso. A powder pink scallop-edged gown felt like an exquisitely drooped peony. Eschewing esoteric references and technical over-complications, the collection was anything but garden-variety.
5. Stella McCartney
Stella McCartney’s aesthetic is ultimately a very distinct strain of effortless cool, one conveyed quite on-the-nosely by one look in her fall lineup: a slate grey Aran knit, blown up to blanket-like proportions, layered over a wispy thin billowy skirt and a pair of hyper-hued trainers. This is the Stella girl. And despite rumors that Kering is reconsidering their investment in her, she’s not going anywhere.
6. Thom Browne
It’s not entirely accurate to describe Thom Browne’s creations as ready-to-wear. They’re couture, not only by how they look but by who purchases them. It’s fun to think of the Thom Browne woman, particularly this season, as the female version of Edward Scissorhands (if she and Eddie got wildly rich at some point). Sculptural silhouettes constructed both in grey flannel and ersatz marble; tongue-in-cheek tromp l’oeil of nipples and strategically-placed fur flowers; and sharp workwear tinged with schoolgirl charm – the Thom Browne customer has plenty to play with come fall.
7. Comme des Garçons
The world Rei Kawakubo creates is typically one of pure fantasy. For fall, her magical dreamland felt lighter than usual with ebullient heaps of fabric trotting down the runway. Kawakubo toyed with notions of camp, inspired by a 1964 Susan Sontag essay, “Notes on Camp.” “Camp taste is, above all, a mode of enjoyment, not judgment,” Sontag wrote. And to the woman who wears these confections, no judgment.
8. Christian Dior
Protest slogans plastered on virtually every surface of the Musée Rodin set the tone for Maria Grazia Chiuri’s fall show, particularly the all capped I AM A WOMAN which served as a backdrop to the runway. Chiuri has always been an outspoken feminist and so it only makes sense that at some point Chiuri would look to the political counterculture of the Sixties for inspiration. And while there was political commentary – her opening look, was a knit emblazoned with “C’est non non non et non!” – the collection was also just plain beautiful.
The gritty streets of Berlin in the Eighties does not feel like a typical source of inspiration for Clare Waight Keller but perhaps the designer is playing against type. Her second outing for Givenchy was vampy and compelling, with exquisite faux fur outré and decidedly grown-up eveningwear being the standouts.
10. Haider Ackermann
Ackermann’s fall collection wasn’t just one of Paris’s best, it was one of the strongest of the entire season. His interested in the dialogue between femininity and masculinity — Bowie-esqe shags, expertly tailored smoking jackets, chartreuse hosiery, and high-shine leather — are the very essence of modernity.