Rebecca Lowthorpe, Assistant Editor of ELLE and Editor of ELLE Collections reports from the front row at Paris Fashion Week.
Rebecca Lowthorpe: @Rebecca_ELLE
10 MARCH 2015
10.30am CHANEL. Karl Lagerfeld stood behind the bar at Brasserie Gabrielle taking questions after the Chanel show. Easy to identify with his powdered white ponytail and dressed in his inimitable black and white, he could hardly be mistaken for a mere waiter. More like the über-chic proprietor of the establishment – which, in a sense he is – both of the Grand Palais which he transforms on a six monthly basis, this time into the largest brasserie in Paris, and as the visionary behind Chanel, the world’s most audacious luxury goods brand... Read the rest of my Chanel review here.
Below scenes from Chanel and pearls of wisdom from Karl.
First came breakfast at Brasserie Gabriel.
I caught Baptiste, the model and muse of Karl taking a selfie.
A model from the show comme les garçons.
Don't you just love this bag?
And now for the world according to Karl: read his quotes below about the Chanel a/w2015 collection.
Above Audrey Marnay modelling, as Karl put it, ‘real clothes for real women. I like to put clothes in a context of where they are supposed to live.'
‘But this is really what I would love to see someone wearing for dinner, lunch or breakfast…But not ladies who lunch, huh? That’s another era,’ said Karl.
‘A new way to make an evening skirt you can sit down in,’ declared Karl of his new mosaic wrap skirt.
‘Because nobody wears evening coats anymore, you have to take things that people can identify with and put them on another level, another price and another material and another circumstance,’ he said of his new crystal-mesh embroidered parka.
‘Everything else, the stiletto, the heavy shoe, it all looked so dated and suddenly I thought this was it.’ Mr Lagerfeld on rediscovering the shoes he used in the show inside the Chanel archives.
While last season Karl’s women’s lib demo transmitted a sartorial statement of freedom of expression, was this brasserie collection intended to be more bourgeois, harking back to a time when ladies had time to lunch? Not at all, said he, ‘They are liberated, they are free and they have the money to pay for their own lunch!’
4.30pm VALENTINO The Valentino collection that will be forever known as The Zoolander Show happened today in Paris. As Derek Zoolander once said: ‘What say we settle this on the runway, Han-Solo?’ Hansel: ‘Are you challenging me to a walk-off, Boo-Lander?’In the most unforeseen runway casting of the season, make that the decade, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson reprised their alter-egos Derek Zoolander and Hansel McDonald for the filming of the sequel #Zoolander2, making real runway history with a steel-off at the least predictable of grandest-of-grand Maisons, Valentino... Press Valentino the rest of the report.
Below, look who's giddy at the sight of Derek and Hans - ELLE ed-in-chief Lorraine Candy, ELLE fashion director Anne Marie Curtis and me, holding a teddy bear.
It's a Steel-off.
And there were some really exceptionally beautiful clothes too.
9 MARCH 2015
8.00pm SAINT LAURENT. That was the most commercial collection yet from Hedi Slimane. No, really. Strip away the styling – the ripped fishnets, chain necklaces, studded chokers. Wipe off the fierce Aaron de Mey make-up – winged black eyes, gash of red lipstick. Take off the wigs by Didier Malige: sharp angled fringed bobs. Forget the incredible stage set that rose up and down by way of supersonic hydraulics as if we were in a 100,000-seater stadium. Never mind the bone-rattling vibrations of The Felines screeching out ‘Pretty Boy’, recently recorded in Paris for the show. You might as well remove the attitude, too: snarling, stomping... Read the rest of my Saint Laurent review.
See below the Hedi show formula. Read the numbers of Saint Laurent's success.
1 of 9 perfectly tailored tweed, leather or fur mens-for-women jackets.
1 of 7 cigarette slim trouser suits. Elegantly put.
1 of 7 leather jackets. Here, over his new obsessional shape - the mini prom.
1 of 9 Let's face it, a perfectly lovely tweed coat.
There were only two MA1-style flight jackets but they made their presence felt.
1 of 9 coats - OK, that's just a really simple double breasted black coat. End of.
10.00am STELLA MCCARTNEY. 'The idea was to take our woman from being precision to being undone,' said Stella McCartney backstage. She’d been looking at the boy-girl tailoring that her brand always offers and working out how to ‘unravel it’. ‘It’s quite a gentle collection, a bit country with a real, natural element to it,’ she said of the felted wools and brushed tweeds that opened the show in coats that wrapped the body and big slouchy knits that slipped off shoulders... Read the Stella review here.
8 MARCH 2015
8.00pm: GIVENCHY. Backstage, Riccardo Tisci said his collection had been inspired by Cholas, Mexican street girl gangs and English Victorian clothes. His collection was everything you want from Givenchy - exciting, bold and easily identifiable as Tisci's.
4.00pm: CHLOE. Clare Waight Keller, the creative director at Chloe, has been working her magic on wearable fashion (as opposed to only-looks-good-on-the-catwalk fashion) since her appointment in 2011. It used to be that the Chloe show, which always follows the Celine show, where Phoebe Philo presides, felt a little flat by comparison to her fellow British designer’s offerings. Chloe’s wearability next to Celine’s big must-have statements never quite cut the mustard. But this is no longer the case, as she proved today. Indeed, could it be that the tables have turned? ...Read the rest of my Chloe review here.
The collection, said Waight Keller, was about the idea of a gentlewoman...
So menswear was key, particularly trousers, 'I'm really into long pants again,' said the designer, 'with a drop waist, masculine, they look real and fresh.'
Clare said all the shearlings are reversible. Result.
The 1970s but it doesn't make you think of jossticks.
Jumbo cord - love these dungarees.
The ever-present prettiness that Clare so brilliantly makes modern.
Just the perfect trouser suit. Real clothes for real women. How apt on International Women's Day.
1.00pm: CELINE. There’s only one way to describe the scene pre-show at Celine: fashion freneticism. Picture the poor editors who had been caught in the Paris marathon traffic, running in late, all the seats taken, oh mon dieu! Such is the power of Celine to promote the fear of missing out, missing quite possibly the most influential show of the season, that the atmosphere in the Tennis Club de Paris is tension personified...Read the rest of my Celine review here.
Below, the looks that reminded me of a creative pinball machine, where ideas ricocheted off every outfit.
7 MARCH 2015
5.00pm: COMME DES GARCONS While fashion designers this season are neatly dividing up into modernists or retro-ists, while fashion buyers are busy debating which trends are going to fly, while the peacocks outside the shows are becoming ever more desperate in ever more outré finery, Comme des Garcons provides an escape from all that... Read the rest of my Comme review here. RL
Inside the show, held in a narrow hall within Paris’ Natural History Museum, time – along with the usual fashion thoughts such as ‘God, if I see another raw-edged brocade coat I might shoot myself’ - is suspended. This is Rei Kawakubo’s domain: A place where anything might happen.
She called it a ‘ceremony of separation’ and if ever clothes could transmit feelings of pain, anger, loss and melancholy, these were they. The idolization of souls who had passed away were represented in swathes of gold, torturous grief by bundles of congealed black lace, another model contorted by curved trunks that burst out of her torso could have been a soul caught between worlds.
Rei Kawakubo only wants to make clothes that are completely new, that have never been seen before.
This was the penultimate dress. Make that six dresses - three pinned to the front, three to the back. It made me think of a bride who'd died and risen as an angel... Only Rei Kawakubo can make you think like this.
11.00 am: HAIDER ACKERMANN. It was great to see that Haider had slimmed down his shapes. The huge, sweeping trousers and coats he favours were almost entirely missing from this collection and in their place a neater, narrower - more commercial? - silhouette.
The jacket options were dizzying, from the shrunken shrug above to the strict shouldered coat below.
The textiles were gorgeous with thick nubby tweeds and even animal print, cut into a slender coat below. I absolutely love the silk shirts beneath, nonchalantly tied at the throat.
And the multiple layerings that Haider does so brilliantly executed to perfection below.
9.30am: JUNYA WATANABE's collection this morning was stunning: an exercise in texture, shape and decoration. Watanabe has long been an advocate of the uniform – the neat white shirt, black skirt and flat lace-ups are as much a part of his lexicon as the raincoat and the leather biker jacket, all of which he has taken to twisting, remodelling and deconstructing in years gone by. The twist this season was that his uniform expanded and contracted by way of origami pleats.
A controlled explosion of pleats around the knees makes the perfect sculptural skirt. Note the graffiti running up the legs, painted with phrases like 'Only the Lonely'.
A wrap around the shoulders with symmetrical peaks becomes an interesting counterpoint to a plain white shirt and perfectly tailored trousers – one of the items you can’t stop thinking about post show.
Decoration came in the form of flat studs – a typical Watanabe punky twist.
Part jacket, part origami cloak, Watanabe style.
A neck ruff, like a Christmas paper lantern.
6 MARCH 2015
8pm: Alexander Wang’s Balenciaga collection was a hit. He’d obviously had his head in the archives but applied his own luxury sportswear spirit so everything had a modernist edge. It’s the trademark Balenciaga structures that obsess Wang, and he played with them here – cocoon coats, cropped wrap jackets, those tulip skirts that burst away from high waists. The clothes had a regal attitude – perhaps that was more in the styling, but 'B' brooches in crystal, long droplet earrings and diamond pins made me think of how a dynamic modern queen might dress (if Wang had anything to do with it).
The edge came in the form of silver staples that traced almost every seam of coats, trousers and even pierced flat black boots. Can you spot the staples on this architectural coat? A neat modern detail.
Wrap jacket meets wrap skirt. Chic.
Back to school? These college scarves (in mink) freshened the lady looks. Love the go-faster stripe (splash?) down this skirt.
This coat collar is made of coiled metal. Wonder how much it weighs?
The Balenciaga tulip skirt retraced for 2015. Though very beautiful, the models could only take the most mincing little steps in these skirts, which didn't feel very 2015. Better were the looks where models could stride.
6pm: Maison Margiela. About four minutes into the show, a character with a huge red clown mouth and a black vinyl hat clamped to her head stormed down the catwalk in long black satin, clutching a brown bag to her chest with orange rubber gloves. Determined to get to the end of the runway as fast as possible, she snarled at the cameras and stormed back again. What to make of John Galliano's debut ready-to-wear show for Maison Margiela?
As the industry splits into two main camps - the modernists versus the vintage-ists (for want of a better word), John Galliano took us back to his vintage Galliano Girl.
But strip off the syling - the upsidedown wigs, the swimming caps bejewelled in a frantic way as if by their wearer, the rubber washing up gloves and the mule heels sprouting fur - and you have an assortment of very beautiful individualistic pieces totally in tune with one half of the season.
Heirloom one-offs ruled supreme.
It's not the first time we've seen furry footwear this season. And it won't be the last.
Perfectly in order, Galliano's girl meets Martin Margiela's avant-garde sensibility - the rubber gloves and the double-heeled shoes.
This leopard print jacket had a 3D effect by way of miniscule pheasant feather embroidered shoulders.
See, without the outré styling, John Galliano's evening attire looks divine.
3.30pm: Don't you really want to be the Isabel Marant girl, with her perfect blend of sexy, rock-chick cool and bohemian spirit? These are the pieces you'll need if you want to get her look next season. ES
Over-sized boho outerwear and printed flippy mini-skirts.
High-waisted skinny pants worn with retro knits.
Masculine jackets. Plus, instant styling note: a single longdrop earring.
Super-cool over-th-knee boots. Want.
Seriously sexy mini dresses (underwear probably required if you're not Anja Rubik) worn with biker boots.
2.30pm: In the mix of what was an epic Dior show, in size at least, held in the courtyard of the Louvre at god-knows-what-expense, Raf Simons sent out a pink coat – ‘his’ pink coat, in the palest blush, buttonless, drop-shouldered and long. It was more than a wink, more than a reminder of the moment he became one of the greatest womenswear designers of his generation. That pink coat sparked a zillion copies. Indeed, designers are still copying it – his Jil Sander pink coat. These days it's harder to spot a Dior copy... Read the rest of my Dior review here.
Raf's pink coat.
Uniforms make their modernist mark.
Have you noticed how many carwash flap skirts there have been this season?
The masculine 'new species' tailoring.
Does this fabric remind you of the material they use to pack oranges in crates? It did me.
Oh to be in Raf's urban jungle wearing nouvo camo.
His finale dress, not exactly red-carpet material. Or perhaps it is for Raf's new Dior woman? Read the Dior review here. RL
12am: At Issey Miyake kaleidoscopic colours, optic prints and, of course, origami folds and prints reined supreme, this season inspired by the natural symetrical beauty of snow crystals and swirling seashells. Musician Ei Wada provided a live soundtrack, surrounded by eight guitars that he played with sticks singer Chiyako accompanied him. ES
For the finale, models stood in spotlights on the catwalk, each in a different coloured knitted top and scull caps. Then they all unhooked their minis to release brightly patterned full skirts and twirled around and around.
11am: Hussein Chalayan sent out a collection that had been inspired by Murder on the Orient Express, but there was nothing menacing about it. 'I wanted it to be more of a suspense story,' said the designer who put 'suspects, half-hidden' on the bodices of long fringed dresses, issued patterns that resembled 'the train being searched' and even draped his finale pieces with Venetian blinds: 'That was the idea of partitions - anxiety internalised'. It was also a geographic journey, said the Turkish-Cypriot-born designer, since the Orient Express sets off from Istanbul, Asia, and travels through Europe to London. This idea was depicted in a beautiful snow-capped mountain jacquard and in utility jackets that looked as if they had been buried in the snow - recalling Chalayan's graduation collection which he famously buried in a friend's garden to see how the fabric would decompose. It was a great show, combining Chalayan's essential tailoring par-excellence with the designer's magic for making beautiful clothes out of concept. RL
The suspense story starts with glamorous passengers on board the Orient Express. But there will be a murder...
Could it be her, above, in the signature charcoal Chalayan tailoring?
Or one of the workers on board the Orient Express in a utilitarian buried-snow jacquard jacket?
Perhaps it's this girl in the snow-capped Asian moutains jacquard coat?
Simply sublime. Let's not forget Chalayan is a master cutter of supremely wearable drop-dead (pun intended) amazing dresses.
The suspect's in the dress. Literally. Hidden between sheer panels. Brilliant. See all the Chalayan catwalk here.
9.30 am: It's hard to believe this is only Jonathan Anderson's second show for Loewe. The designer has hit his stride in almost no time at all, building on last season's debut with another strong collection that is making Loewe feel like an important up-there brand, as opposed to yet another luxury leather goods label making read-to-wear for the sake of selling its bags. Anderson's latest added weight and authority to the autumn / winter 2015 conversation. Held at the UNESCO building, the audience perched on individual concrete plinths, while Loewe's strong-minded-woman-on-a-mission reinforced the by-now Loewe trouser shape - big, wide, masculine-elegant - that he set up last season, only here they were in herringbone as well as supple leathers. RL
When asked backstage afterwards if he designed the bags first or the clothes, he said: 'Neither, when I design I consider the whole outfit, so the bags are part of that. Like, what bag would she wear with this, where is she going, what does she need?' His bag designs for Loewe are some of the most innovative in fashion right now.
As well as creating über modernist bags, Anderson played with liquid shine in slimline pleat dresses over raw-textured trousers.
This culminated in lacquered leather and fluid mercury-like trousers. This bag, seen throughout in vivid shades, looks as if it is squashed with a perfectly symmetrical dent in the top. It fastens with a triangle of leather - very neat. And clever.
Here's where all the fabric combinations collided in a long wool ribbed waistcoat that bounced as the model walked, and high-shine trousers. But check that colour!
As for the straightforward ready-to-wear part of the collection, the big collared flight jackets get my vote.
And here he is, J-Dubs, taking his well-earned bow. Bravo! See all the Loewe catwalk pics here. RL
5 MARCH 2015
8pm: The uplifting, super-chic collection from Lanvin have every editor watching thinking, I'll have that. Read our full review here.
Kim Kardashian West's new platinum blonde hair was almost as flashbulb-generating as the collection itself. See who else was on the front row here.
11am: Alexis Martial and Adrien Caillaudaud made their debut as Creative Directors of Carven. It was something of a soft launch for the duo; while Adrien has been designing the collection for the past few month, Alexis had to complete his final collection for Iceberg and so only started on Monday. Either way they were both full of enthusiasm and of the same mind backstage after the show; they're focus was on defining the attitude of the Carven girl and making sure that she was vibrant and youthful with a ton of attitude. 'The dream is just beginning,' they said. Watch this space.
10am: Geometry ruled at Roland Mouret with graphic shapes picked out in bold shades across feminine, structures pieces.
4 MARCH 2015
9pm: H&M took us to the moon with a stellar line-up of models (Hi Kendall! Hi Edie! Hi Gigi), a front row packed with Mark Ronson, Solange Knowles, Audrey Tatou and more and a retro, sporty collection. Read our full review here.
5pm: This is a landmark year for Rochas: the French label is marking its 90th anniversary. It seemed fitting, then, that Alessandro dell'Acqua had been rummaging through and reinventing the archives.
The soaring swallows referenced a 1934 collection dedicated to birds.
The ruffled sweetheart necklines (so pretty) and belted silhouettes echoed a 1930s evening dress.
And the Chantilly lace featured the design developed by Marcel Rochas.
3pm: Dries Van Noten worked his magic to transform an eclectic mix of rich, touchy-feely fabrics into beautiful pieces fueld by understated glamour, all set against the opulent backdrop of Paris' Hotel de Ville. There was a stripped back, girl power soundtrack to powere his real-women approach, too - acapella versions of Blondie, Beyonce, Kate Bush and Missy Eliot. Read our review in full here.