Paris Fashion Week ended on Tuesday much as it began, with some fine displays of clothes, and worries about snow back home in New York. The weather has been a constant source of distraction during the collections, which is concerning, because that usually means there hasn’t been all that much to talk about in terms of fashion.
In Paris, the strongest shows were Balenciaga, Loewe, Alexander McQueen, Hermès, and Valentino. On the final two days of the collections, normally for showstoppers, the news was a little less headline making, with beautifully wearable—if not necessarily headline making—collections from Louis Vuitton and Chanel. Miu Miu was a pure delight, featuring an ode to the '80s from Miuccia Prada, complete with acid-wash denim, mom jeans, and retro B-52s hairstyles. Prada’s Miu Miu collection is skewing especially young and fashionable these days, so it wasn’t such a shock to see both the opening and closing looks worn by Elle Fanning, who modeled in the super fun show.
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McQueen’s Sarah Burton, however, left the biggest impression of all with a collection that incorporated prints and intarsia patterns based on butterflies and moths, as well as dresses encrusted with jewels in the shape of scarab beetles. These were hallmarks of Alexander McQueen’s work, and a natural for Burton to push forward with wonderful dresses that incorporated harnesses and wrapped fabrics in ways that looked remarkably well produced. Burton has had so many great shows, it seems condescending to suggest this one was one of her best, but, gosh, why did it feel so special compared to previous seasons?
For one thing, the clothes weren’t weird. Weirdness isn’t necessarily wrong in the McQueen universe, by any means, but sometimes the embrace of the macabre feels a little too narrowly directed toward the fashion elite. But here, the strange creatures looked lovely, as if enchanted in a masquerade ball, with gowns that trailed fringe and fabric and made wonderful impressions for the entire length of the show.
For another thing, Burton knows her audience. On each seat, she had placed a cable knit sweater as a gift, with the name of the guest embroidered on its McQueen label. Editors are greedy, and love presents, even if there’s not a chance they will ever fit, weigh nearly three pounds apiece, and will likely cause the airlines to have a meltdown from overweight luggage that results as everyone begins to head home. Thanks, Sarah!
Chanel’s theme for fall was fall, as in falling leaves, which covered the endless grounds of the latest Karl Lagerfeld joint. This one featured a mossy dirt runway and nearly barren trees, and fall colors incorporated into golden boots, rusty knits, and beautiful black dresses worn with pop colored gloves. It was a lovely, romantic collection, filled with things to buy.
Similary, Nicolas Ghesquière closed the season with a very shop-able Louis Vuitton collection at the Louvre, which reminded me more of the Marc Jacobs version of Vuitton than anything else Ghesquière has done there. By that, I mean the clothes were presented in a very grand way, this time on a set where the models descended a grand staircase into a sculpture garden, kept at some distance from the audience. But they were obviously rooted in pragmatic commercialism—a very American sportswear idea, with above the knee skirts, cute bomber jackets, and some killer shearling coats.
It didn’t exactly take the breath away. But it didn’t disappoint, either, which pretty much sums up the season as a whole.