After last season’s jaunt to Cornwall, which led to Cloutie tree inspirations, Sarah Burton took her team to the Great Dixter house in East Sussex. Its garden has received the Grade I stamp in the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Thus, a pergola of embroidered flowers and a brick runway set the stage for a magnificent collection of British musings. There was the deconstructed trench coat (an ever pervasive theme this season), which in Burton’s hands took on a new life in unique floral prints reminiscent of fabrics in a country manor. Frilled sheer gowns looked like the kind of thing that might have been traipsing around a country estate for many generations, now perfectly haphazardly undone for 2018. There were waxed cotton gardening jackets and olive military leather mixed with tartan plaids. And the floral gowns that sprung forth from the grounds of Dixter were great, indeed—paired with combat boots and the models’ slick wet tresses and steely stares, it was perfectly British in its stern elegance.
The venue should have been a clue that Giambattista Valli was taking a more casual approach for Spring. Rather than stage his collection somewhere like the Grand Palais, he opted for an industrial artist-loft like space in the 17th Arrondissement. Yet the romance prevailed—his inspiration was the love story of Italian painter and Roman royal Mario Schifano and working class artist Nancy Ruspoli. The social contrast cropped up in the combination of ruffled miniskirts and totally wearable sweater vests, and lingerie-inspired dresses and ballet flats. Cropped trousers and pleated tunics were sprinkled in between billowing floral peasant gowns. There were even denim paintsuits, a sequel to the Nike leggings that made an appearance last season, further proof that Valli is forgoing solely party frocks. Even still, there are plenty of looks perfectly fit for the ruffle-loving romantic, but with modern touches that beckon a more modern princess.
No, those were not leather pants you saw on Stella McCartney’s Spring ’18 runway—the designer who has pioneered the notion of environmentally-conscious, animal-friendly luxury infused her RTW with a material she called “Skin-Free Skin,” and it’s quite convincing, especially in some fetching caramel trousers with a drawstring hem. Also destined for the cool crowd: one-shoulder jumpsuits, a semi-transparent leopard print, and neon-tinged acid-washed denim.
If you yearn to take your passion for Hermès scarves to the next level, indulge in Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski’s Spring ’18 collection for the brand. Yes, there were some perfectly harmless tailored suits, trim little jackets, and smocked chiffon blouses, but the real workhorses consisted of blouses, dresses, and even pants that were decked out in a print featuring equestrian straps and belts. The seventies-style tunics (and those knit plaid pants) are less likely to go into heavy rotation, but this is Hermès, people—they’re bound to find some fans.
It’s become one of the buzziest shows in Paris for a reason—combine masterful patternmaking with unexpected textiles and a whole lot of imagination, you’ll get an exceptionally great Sacai collection, and Chitose Abe’s take on spring riffed on the concept of tied-on shirts, jackets, and other assorted hybrids. Using a mixture of functional camo, parachute silks, and old-school tweeds and stripes, the best looks had a patched-together, whimsical sensibility that even the most buttoned-up fashion lovers will have a hard time resisting. Why not marry a blazer with a biker (jacket)? These are clothes with gravitas, but there’s also a real sense of humor. The festival of florals and plaids ended the show on a note of optimism. Spring ahead, indeed!