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Swank Scoop: What We Learned at Paris Fashion Week

September is over, which in turn means the most important month of the year in fashion has come to a close. The last runways have been walked, all the collections have been presented, and the final street wear look-books are complete.

It’s now time to reflect on the final leg of the four-stop tour dubbed “fashion-month” by the business’ fanatics. Per annual custom, the procession of high fashion and ready-to-wear ensembles concluded in Paris. It’s only fitting seeing as the most influential houses in the industry call the city home.

So what did we learn from the last seven days? Unfortunately, not really anything new.

Maja Salamon for Maison Martin Margiela S/S 2015. Photo via: Yannis Vlamos
Maja Salamon for Maison Martin Margiela S/S 2015. Photo via: Yannis Vlamos

Many major houses displayed collections that seemed regurgitated and limiting. Céline’s practical but luxurious display of floral dresses, trimmed coats and detailed accessories was a pleasant visual. However, remove the winged-tip eyeliner that appeared across a wide range of runways (Givenchy and Dries Van Noten to name a few) and you might have needed a double take to make sure it wasn’t 2012, still. It wasn’t just Céline that stayed inside the box this season.

Margiela’s usual mismatched patterns, Alexander McQueen’s inventive but somehow unoriginal urbanization and Miu Miu’s Prada-gone-bad attitude all seemed creatively unfulfilled.

One spectacular that didn’t lack at all of these shows, was the atmosphere. Along side a star studded front rows and illustrious architectural backdrops the clothes seemed almost unimportant. Maybe the theatrics were an industry ploy to distract the show goers from the unoriginal couture? Not a terrible conspiracy.

While the designs might not have been anything special, Karl Lagerfeld took to the streets (literally) for his Chanel show and proved two things this year. First, Chanel can do color! The house that uses “simplicity” interchangeably with “elegance” finally contorted itself into a palette of bright colors, patterns, and even politics! Yes, in a bold statement Kaiser Karl himself took to the streets to stage a feminist protest. Led by Cara Delevinge, dressed in their runway outfits, the Chanel girls walked the runway with picket signs displaying messages of “He For She,” and “Boys Should Get Pregnant Too.” While this political stance was an attention grabber for some, it still seamed like a slight ruse to distract us from a not so tantalizing display of mismatched prints and power suits.

Alexandra Elizabeth for Valentino S/S 2015. Photo via: Guillaume Roujas
Alexandra Elizabeth for Valentino S/S 2015. Photo via: Guillaume Roujas

Fear not however, for there is a light at the end of the dimly lit catwalk!

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino and Rick Owens, at his own label, concocted two rather inventive collections. Resemblant of the 18th century Grand Tour mystique, Valentino’s spread emphasized fine detailing and prints as typical of the house. However, the incorporation of Egyptian sandals and an ocean theme rich with corals, starfish and sea shells, along with beaded embroidering, placed this 79 piece collection at the helm of the seasons designs. 

Rick Owens showed similar grandeur, branching out from his typical hit list. Known for loud music and intensity, Owens took a deep breath on the Paris runway displaying his elegant tulle dresses to the tune of Lento’s “Fantasy in C Major.” Embellished in angular geometry with accents of leather and wool, the urban color palette radiated prowess and confidence.

Anther facet to fashion week is always the exceptional street wear that graces the front row. While most of the time it’s just pleasant to flip through the look-books created by major magazines, we can also take a few style tips from the pros. The most prominent trend this year was skirts and high-tops. It just works! With combat boots and high waisted jeans dominating college campus fall fashion this year, it might be a nice alternative on the slightly warmer day. Besides, who doesn’t feel like they can take on the world in a fresh pair of Nikes. Why not look classy while you do it?

Back to the designs! Okay. So the inventiveness wasn’t entirely there from the designers this season. But in arguably one of the most rapidly evolving industries in the world, you can be certain come February there will be an entirely new set of textiles, embroidering, and colors to dissect. And of course, I’ll be here to bring you the lab results.