A prevailing trend toward minimalism has surfaced in the wake of Paris Fashion Week. After years of divergent propositions, austerity has now emerged as a key style stamp for the forthcoming decade—serving as both an important anthropological marker and as a positive approach for the reccession-rattled industry. Expect these pared down looks to balance out retail’s teetering supply-demand equilibrium, but don’t worry about it simultaneously marking a shift toward the banal. If the recent looks seen in the City of Light are any indication, this new generation of subdued minimalism is far more style savvy than yawn-inducing.
Of the runways shows, Pheobe Philo’s collection for Celine
proved that less can truly be more. In a limited palette of mostly navy, black and white shades, the British designer showed how women needn’t rely on clothes that are chromatically bold or seductively loud to look modern and chic. Instead, she flaunted the simple elegance of a black turtleneck over a below the knee skirt with a curvilinear slit, streamlined shiny leather tops with pencil skirts or even just a black tunic dress. Philo’s message was as pointed as her previous season’s suggestion of practicality and affluence through warm camel tones—it’s small wonder that reverberations was felt in New York and continued in Paris.
The formerly Philo-helmed Chloe also featured touches of
femininity, which current creative director Hannah MacGibbon used in trousers that closed with large bowties at the waist. Elsewhere, Giambattista Valli—who recently broke off with his licensee Burani Fashion Group and is now manufacturing under his own company—opened with a textured camel coat, notch collar jacket and funnel dress-coat that oozed high octane luxury, while Stella McCartney’s collection indicated a no-frills approach in a silk camel dress, utilitarian coat and quilted vest with a hood.
Dries Van Noten’s use of earthen colors were closer to olive, whereas Karl Lagerfeld’s brown faux-fur Chewbacca suits, furry boots and hirsute coats for Chanel seemed to be remnants of
Where the Wild Things Are. At Balenciaga, Nicholas Ghesquiere presented encasement-like Space Age jackets rounded at the shoulders with different panel cutouts in opposing fabrics (from foam to leather), while chunky knits and short jackets were distended from the body in a new silhouette. Riccardo Tisci’s hard woman image for Givenchy harnessed a different strength in knee-length double breasted jackets (an early ’90s trends that also turned up at YSL) and pencil trousers, softened by peekaboo lacey tops and sultry fitted black dresses with some romantic frillings.
Dark and romantic-inclined designers were in a sophisticated mood overall, emphasizing their signature fluid lines in stiff,
shiny fabrics. Haider Ackermann’s multi-layered vest and jackets will likely be the most coveted of the season, featuring a nipped waist with leather folds that waver around the body like exotic birds A similarly macabre elegance played out at Ann Demeulemeester, where shiny leather accessories dripped in blood red and a glistening feather bolero hinted at a refined drama. Demeulemeester’s short belted jackets and full pants also proved to be the perfect updates for the season. Rick Owens, meanwhile, has only to tinker with the tribal-romantic category that he owns to entice new purchases from his followers. For fall, Owens introduced a graphic zigzag pattern as 3D appliqué on jackets while presenting each look with
stockings decorated in the gray scale pattern, bringing new dimensions to his bias and asymmetrical cuts.
In contrast to the varied leather finishes in New York, Paris was all about shiny skins. Balenciaga featured varieties in pale palettes, whereas Gareth Pugh showed Chevron patterned and multi-seamed and Hermes used it in everything from bowler hats to riding boots. The few fluttery chiffon dresses at Dior were overshadowed by the chocolate brown and berry colored knee high boots and a new half moon shoulder bag.
As the Paris Fashion Week dust settles, the dominating trend clearly lies in a pivotal shift toward a sort of stiff, minimal
tailoring. At Lanvin, where we’re accustomed to a parade of free forming shapes, Alber Elbaz turned his sights to more tailored jackets and dresses with architectural details. Comme des Garçons, meanwhile, offered a futuristic take on classic shapes with plenty of padding and Hussein Chalayan’s double breasted boiled wool jackets looked as stiff as Joseph Beuys’ Felt Suit.