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Mar 2017
The streets of Paris were clogged by rallies and demonstrations on the Sunday of fashion week. At the Trocadero, a pro-rally for embattled French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon, blocking the route between the Valentino and Akris shows; at Bastille, an anti-Fillon demonstration.

The French elections — and ever-increasing security — were providing a tense backdrop to the autumn-winter collections, much like Donald Trump, Brexit and Matteo Renzi did on the fashion circuit of New York, London and Milan this season. Politics and the changing of the guard, women’s rights and diversity may make fashion seem irrelevant until you add up the value of the industry to the world economy. In Britain it is £28 billion ($45bn) — and that is small fry next to France and Italy.

Perhaps politics and social change have influenced the French designers for there was much less street style this season and a lot more tailored, working clothes on the catwalk. They used mostly masculine fabrics but worked in such a graceful way. You need only look at Haider ­Ackermann, Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Lanvin, Akris and Ellery to see this — lots of great wearable clothes.

Karl Lagerfeld wanted to fly us to other worlds (to abandon the mess here perhaps) in his Chanel space rocket. There were checks, cream, silvery white and grey tweeds, for suits and shorts and dark side of the moon print dresses that cleverly avoided the 60s’ ­futuristic cliches. Silver moon boots, space blanket stoles and rocket-shaped handbags were as space-age-y as it got. There was quiet, seductive tailoring at Haider Ackermann — tapered silhouettes in black wool and leather softened with a knit or the fluff of Mongolian lamb for a blouson or skirt. At McQueen the asymmetric lines of a black coat or pantsuit were ­inspired by the fluid lines of ­Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures, whereas David Koma reclaimed the soaring shoulderline of Mugler’s 80s silhouette for pantsuits and mini-dresses for the brand.

Christian Dior’s uniform-inspired daywear was produced in tones of navy blue with 50s-style navy belted skirts suits, long pleated skirts and some denim workwear. “I wanted my collection to express a woman’s personality, but with all the protection of a ­uniform,” explained Maria Grazia Chiuri before the show.

There was more suiting at ­Martin Grant with voluminous trousers, cummerbunds and men’s shirting. The cut was more mannish at Ellery and Celine with ­Ellery balancing her masculine oversized jacket looks with feminine bustier tops with giant puff sleeves. The mannish look at ­Celine was styled with sharp ­lapels, slim-cut trousers under crushed textured raincoats, whereas ­double-breasted jackets (a trend) and peacoats over loose-cut trousers appeared at John Galliano.

Checks jazzed up the tailoring at Akris where there were more sophisticated double-breasted jackets and swing coats, and at ­Giambattista Valli from among the flirty embroidered dresses a dogtooth coat emerged with a waspie belt and a suit with a peplum skirt.

Stella McCartney displayed her Savile Row skills in heritage checks for her equestrian-themed show. Of course, she is crazy about riding and her prints featured a famous painting by George Stubbs, Horse Frightened by a Lion. It turns out Stubbs was another Liverpudlian, like her dad Sir Paul.

Of course Hermes’s vocabulary started with the horse and there were leather-trimmed capes and coats that fitted an equestrian, or at least country theme worn with woollen beanies and big sweaters, offering a different way of tailoring, in an easier silhouette with a soft colour palette.

The highlight of the week for Natalie Kingham, buying director at MatchesFashion.com was ­Balenciaga. “Great accessories, great coats and great execution of ideas,” she says of Demna Gvasalia’s off-kilter buttoned coats, stocking boot and finale of nine spectacular Balenciaga couture gowns reinterpreted in a contemporary way. “It was wearable, modern and the must-see show of the week.” It was also, she pointed out “the must-have label off the runway with every other person on the front row decked out in the spring collection”.

Although tailoring worked its subtle charms on the catwalk, there were flashes of brightness, graceful beauty and singularity. Particularly bright were Miu Miu’s psychedelic prints, feathered and jewelled lingerie dresses and colourful fun fur coats with furry baker boy hats. Then there was the singular look evoked by Austrian-born Andreas Kronthaler in his homage to his roots, with alpine flowers, Klimt-style artist smocks and bourgeois chintz florals worked in asymmetric and padded silhouettes for Vivienne Westwood — some of it modelled by the Dame herself.

Pagan beauty, the wilds of Cornwall, ancient traditions such as the mystical “Cloutie” wishing tree led to Sarah Burton’s enchanting Alexander McQueen show, which was another of Kingham’s favourites with its unfinished embroideries inspired by old church kneelers and spiritual motifs. “I loved the artisanal threadwork and the spiritual message that was woven throughout,” she says. The artisanal and spiritual she considers an emerging trend around the shows. “It had a slight winter boho vibe but much more elevated.”

Chitose Abe shared that mood for undone beauty with her Sacai collection of hybrid combinations of tweed and nylon for an anorak, and deconstructed lace for a parka, and puffers with denim re-worked with floral lace for evening.

There was more seductiveness at Valentino and Issey Miyake. The latter’s collection shown in the magnificent interiors of Paris’s Hotel de Ville, shimmered with the colours of the aurora borealis and used extraordinary fabric technology to create rippling movement as the models walked.

Valentino was a high point. On a rainswept Sunday Pierpaolo Piccioli cheered us with high-neck Victoriana silhouettes and long swingy dresses in potentially (but not actually) clashing combinations of pink and red in jazzy patterns of mystical motifs and numerology inspired by the Memphis Group of Pop Art. The sheer loveliness of the collection was enough to drown out the world of politics only a few blocks away.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/short-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/blue-formal-dresses
judy smith
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judy smith
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