Dispatches From Paris: Day One Show Report

Maison Margiela, Dries Van Noten and Rochas kicked off Paris Fashion Week SS16

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On the first day of Paris Fashion Week, three big design houses focused on The Lady, with wildly different results...
 

MAISON MARGIELA

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Trust John Galliano to cut to the chase with the season’s biggest message: The Lady is back. Only this was Galliano for Maison Margiela, so anything polite was twisted, everything pretty was skewed and all things ladylike subverted. Take the opening coat straight out of the early 1960s (the early years of that decade have been on repeat all season), here in ivory with a leopard collar, kitten heels with thick ankle straps (the back of the heel reinforced an extra inch), a blue-rinse beehive for hair, silver maquillage below the eyes and a big handbag that looked as if it might have been whitewashed with a paint roller. There were gauzy layers everywhere, but Galliano’s came over a shimmering vest that resembled the shards of a broken mirror. There were metallics, but he offered them in zip-through cargo-pocketed skirts, one worn with a fishnet body stocking on a young man. Galliano played with the Maison’s codes: a cricket sweater with sawn-off sleeves came trimmed in chain and wrapped with Cellophane; a coat carried ornamentation in the form of giant diamond chandelier earrings; a trouser suit appeared in shocking, piercing green; a pleated white dress looked as if it had been driven over by a motorbike, leaving black tyre marks; mini backpacks were tied on every look Obi-style, worn with Japanese-esque slim T-shirts and long narrow skirts. It was a great show. Best of all, was the occasional eruption of undiluted Galliano, such as the kick-ass bias-cut bronze gown, straight out of the designer’s own archive. Galliano’s ability to blend the two is looking increasingly lovely.

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DRIES VAN NOTEN

Again The Lady. Only this time, in Dries World, that meant the 1940s and, er, Mohawk prints. Dries, the multi-culti-obsessive-cum-master-colour-and-texturalist said his collections was: ‘Flamboyant, impulsive, vivacious, observant, infatuated, jubilant, kinky, fearless and flirtatious.’ And so it was. Colour clashed. Pattern swirled. And silhouettes were polarised: first, huge trousers and dirndls sprang out from tiny waists, and mismatched printed jackets and coats were issued with big firm shoulders. Then Dries played soft with elegant tea dresses, straight out of Keira Knightley's wardrobe for The Imitation Game, followed by strappy slips and oodles of layers of ruffled net. It was interesting to see Van Noten play with the bra (fast becoming a major ‘piece’ for SS16). It appeared in shocking pink over a tattoo body stocking, as part of a simple white dress in bronze, or covering breasts in those barely-there lingerie-style slip dresses we’ve seen everywhere since New York Fashion Week. As for the Mohawk prints – a pattern best described as unfurling birds’ wings – they came in gorgeous colours and appeared on everything, culminating in vivid sequins. Throughout, right in the middle of the warehouse runway, a string quartet played – not your average classical fare, but a discordant, elaborate rhythm, weirdly beautiful. Just like the clothes.
 
ROCHAS

Alessandro Dell’Acqua took one lady – Gala Dalí – and riffed. Dalí was muse and wife of surrealist artist, Salvador Dalí, said the show notes, which explained why giraffes suddenly appeared in vivid embroideries on a sleeved dress and narrow pencil skirt. What other surreal touches? Pointy fine-heeled shoes that looked fluffy, until they got closer and we could see they were made from frayed lace. Big bows that sprouted from the chests of dresses like flamboyantly wrapped presents. Jacquard woven to imitate popcorn and lots of transparent layers shrouding apparently ‘normal’ clothes, like black lace over Western shirts, or diaphanous white over cartoonish images of sunsets and surf on sporty tank tops and T-shirts. There was also a good deal of shiny PVC underwear in ice-cream shades that gleamed under whisker-fine lace. Perhaps the plastic went a bit too far for this brand that is all about The Lady. But it was good to see Dell’Acqua take the manicured feminine spirit of the house and rewrite it with sport, surrealism and sequins.

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