Paris Fashion Week: Balenciaga, Céline, Comme des Garçons, and more

by Paige Reddinger

Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2017
Those who can’t afford a $2,750 version of a North Face jacket, a $1,645 version of a shopping bag, or a $4,950 hobo-style floral print dress still have reasons to thank Demna Gvasalia—now high-end expensive dressing really is within reach! For instance, this season he revived the dreaded square-toe shoe. Sure, you won’t be able to find the thigh-high versions in the thrift bins, but if you’re savvy enough you’ll be able to make those relics work. And he’s given us a reason to revisit spandex. Despite Gvasalia’s aversion to sexy, he got a little frisky with pink spandex legging boots worn with an ’80s-style purple ruched top accented with the kind of broach that can be found in antique stores. While you might not find a trench coat with whalebone rod shoulders, you should come across plenty of shoulder-padded trenches from the not-so-distant past at Beacon’s Closet can for under $30. That said, all of Gvasalia’s pieces are cut in such a way or done with such a unique touch that the fashion-obsessed are swiping these up before they can hit the stores. That oddly shaped, seemingly unflattering cropped denim jacket from last season? It can no longer be found at a single stockist. As a testament to Gvasalia’s influence, his ideas can now be seen on nearly every runway in some form or another after just a few seasons.

Céline Spring/Summer 2017
It’s no secret that Phoebe Philo is one of the industry’s preeminent feminists, so it’s not surprising that feminism was the underlying message of her show this season. It’s not, of course, the first time she’s visited the subject nor is it new territory for an industry predominately devoted to women, but there were some interesting ideas at play here. A long, white dress with a blue print of the female body, with two heads on each breast, referenced Yves Klein’s famous Anthropométrie series in which he used naked female models as living brushes—women making art with their bodies, or their bodies as art. The purity of a white dress with a white cape that billowed from the shoulders or a lone scarlet-colored gown or dresses with bustiers resembling breast plates gives you an idea of where Philo’s head was this season. Then there was the extremely exaggerated brown men’s suit or an immense version of a ladylike women’s purse with obvious connotations. As quiet as she is personally, Philo’s philosophy on women is at it’s best when it’s not just a suggestion, but a proclamation.

Nina Ricci Spring/Summer 2017
Everyone is mad for stripes this season and Guillaume Henry really took the trend to heart with over half of the collection done in the motif du jour. The best were the slinky sequin numbers, a lavender velvet suit with barely-there stripes, and a black and white striped leather jacket adorned with hundreds of small silver rings. Of course, there were the lingerie-inspired staples like silk skirts and dresses with lace trimming or a see-through lace top worn over a bralette, but this season introduced men’s suiting and more day attire for a slightly more casual vibe.


Comme des Garçons Spring/Summer 2017
Rei Kawakubo was thinking about “invisible clothes” this season. Why then, you ask, did every piece come enormously oversized? What she meant was, clothes that make the person invisible. A black dress with ruffled trimming cocooned around the body like a moving hut with barely a peephole for the face, a dress with draping so that one can hideaway from the world, or a tartan dress with a wingspan so long you might knock down passerby. In a world where everyone is masking themselves with piles and piles of the latest trends and preening for the cameras, this might be Kawakubo’s comment on the fashion set’s need to overcompensate outwardly. Just recently, after all,  Harper’s Bazaar featured  designers wearing paper bags on their heads to tell the world what they hide from and how they protect themselves.

Elie Saab Spring/Summer 2017
The Elie Saab woman wants to see and be seen, and she has plenty of money and free time to spend doing such. Each season Saab’s show is seated predominately by his highest spenders—all 600 of them. These are women who are attending galas, luncheons, balls, things that now seem characteristic of a bygone era. That’s why Saab is targeting his clientele’s second generation, which loves a retro moment mixed with a touch of street that even a designer of dreamy glam gowns can’t avoid. That’s why this collection was devoted to disco, which meant a glittered runway complete with bell bottoms, star-adorned numbers, fringe, jumpsuits, and capes. Even the classic evening looks were worn with matching sequined baseball caps. What could be more fun than imagining the offspring of the world’s richest waltzing into a staid old-money affair in one of these gems?


Mugler Spring/Summer 2017
Shark attack! David Koma was inspired by the sea and one of nature’s most feared predators. That theme works perfectly for a brand where slashed cut-outs inform the majority of the sexy body-con numbers on the runway. The show opened with glittery silver paillette minis that mimicked the slippery wet skin of a shark, followed by tight scuba-inspired pieces and pointy-nosed shoes—all things to satisfy the man-eating Mugler woman.


Acne Studios Spring/Summer 2017
We have a polarizing presidential election, Britain had Brexit, and Europe has its refugee crisis. Elements of political strife have influenced the collection this season at Acne Studios. Textiles indigenous to regions like Syria and other Arabic countries, from which an appalling number of refugees have fled, served as the inspiration for Swedish designer Johnny Johansson. “It is interesting to me that even though we live in a digital age with a free flow of information, there are many countries who want to close their borders,” said Johansson in the show notes. “I prefer to focus on openness and looking out into the world.” There were garments made from and inspired by scarves and blankets. Patterns local to some of these regions, like paisley, indienne, checks, and stripes, ran throughout the collection, and Byzantine slippers and jeweled moccasins were worn with most of the looks. Colorful frayed knit kaftans and oversized bags hinted at the nomadic lifestyle. If only real life could be this beautiful.


Haider Ackermann Spring/Summer 2017
Punked out! The models at Haider Ackermann sported Mohawks splayed out like the petals from a Bird of Paradise botanical. It was a mix of “order and chaos,” as Ackermann put it—that hair came paired with sleek tailored suits with cut-out or crop-top details. Dress coats came with blood-spatter paint. There was gold and copper lamé pleating and shiny two-toned leather pants. Ironically, a couple of T-shirts were emblazoned with “Silence” in giant letters, yet this collection was anything but quiet.


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