Paris Fashion Week Pt3 – Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood & Haider Ackermann
STELLA MCCARTNEY opened her show this morning with a series of stretchy tube looks in striped and plaid jersey. They were sporty; some comprised of buttoned-up preppy polo shirts and maxi skirts and others took shape as racer-back dresses. In punchy hues of green, red and yellow they were a lively opener. Stella McCartney referred to them as a true celebration of summer, exuding a vivacious and liberated spirit.
The designer also offered up some very appealing raw indigo denim looks (rigid, non-stretch denim is the big news right now, and not just on the runways but spotted on show-goers too). She presented denim midi-skirts with side slits for ease of movement, drop-crotch wide-leg jeans and off-the-shoulder zipped up tops, all with contrast white stitching.
There were some tricky elements, specifically the zigzagging elliptical hemlines created from layering a plissé pleated top over a plissé pleated midi-skirt in contrast zingy colours, like black, orange, cobalt and acid yellow. Colours aside, unless you’re 5ft 10 and reed thin, most women might take an issue with a silhouette as challenging as this.
The thing about a Stella McCartney collection is that you can look at these clothes, pick them up in their entirety and slot them back into any spring/summer season, almost regardless of year. These clothes don’t have much correlation or context to what else is going on in fashion’s zeitgeist: Stella does Stella’s thing – here, a pretty summer dress with sporty mesh inserts, and oversize mannish tailoring comes as standard – but that isn’t necessarily a criticism, certainly not for the Stella customer who heads here with those wardrobe staples in mind.
SARAH BURTON has long been credited as the light source at McQueen. In previous seasons it’s been subtle, like a crack in a window but bit by bit that window has widened. Tonight, it was thrown wide open.
Her Alexander McQueen takes a gentler, more feminine approach and that was no truer than in her collection this evening: no gimp masks, no crazy hair styling, no set to distract. What she presented was a beautiful, much easier rendering of the McQueen aesthetic.
The people of London’s Spitalfields from the late 17th Century and the Huguenot migrants who arrived as religious refugees were the starting point for Burton, they brought with them a skill in weaving and floral design. Those artisanal crafts were mined to the hilt; along with a love of folklore and the idea of heirloom. Fabrics looked aged and decayed, from gentle frays in the surface of washed silk gowns to jeans with exaggerated cuffs that were shredded to the extreme.
It was bohemian in parts, exotic in others – those Indian-mirrored ivory frock coats being the best example – and above all, deeply romantic. From the Victoriana silhouettes with corseted bodices to the chintz prints comprising hand-painted roses and forget-me-nots, even the little nappa leather jackets had floral embroideries and sprouted tiny ruffles along the shoulder seams.
There was an undercurrent of fetishism here but it was tame and more refined in its execution; silver chain harnesses were draped loosely around the body over razor-sharp black tailoring. But if show-goers were expecting an edge, or even a hint of agitation, it didn’t materialise. This was an ultra-romantic version of the McQueen woman, best illustrated with the closing look: a shredded ruffled shell pink gown suspended by the skimpiest of spaghetti straps, and decorated in tiny covered buttons snaking around the torso and hips. Sublime and a sure contender for red carpets the world over.
VIVIENNE WESTWOOD, the UK’s most pre-eminent enfant terrible, gave us another show to write home about today. While the set hinted that a Seventies-themed collection might be to come – the room was disco-drenched in light bouncing off mirrored balls – what came was more of a celebration of summertime back home.
Loose and easy wrap dresses with ruffled fronts came in pretty pale-pink-and-white seaside stripes, as well as beautiful garden florals; prefect-style blazers were adorned with gold embellishment and signature orbs (as opposed to boring badges) in which to wrap that cherished last day of school; tailoring was covered in costly wallpaper prints, reminiscent of old country houses where one retreats for afternoon tea; while wide-brimmed hats wrapped in the finest of white tulle and coarse hessian fabrics paid homage to the beekeepers and farmers that work the land as late as the sun will allow.
What is always clear at a Vivienne Westwood show, despite the reliable spectacle, is exactly what has ensured the designer’s longevity: wearability. Today the ruffled-hem wrap dresses; the sexy oversized tailoring; and the embroidered skirt and sweater combos had serious appeal. These are clothes that time and time again highlight the beauty of the female form, made by a woman who knows exactly the areas that women want, and don’t want, to highlight.
HAIDER ACKERMANN’s spring/summer 2016 was a reflection of what he sees as the lack of humanity and unity among the human race in the world today. “I like to talk about a gang. We all want to belong to a nation, we all want to have a family, and to stand by a family,” he explained backstage. “Of course you’re inspired by what’s going on around you. We’re living in a crazy world these days where people have nothing to do with it but everyone wants to belong somewhere. Those girls have all the attitude and are individual but they are stronger together.”
This translated to a hard-edged meets optimistic outing from the designer that saw a strong punk-rock spirit dominate, from the multi-coloured mohawks that every model sported; to the cropped and sleeveless biker jackets that came paint-spattered and shredded; to the ruffled lace halternecks worn with super skinny leather trousers and just-as-tight studded boots. Hints of romance came through in long liquid-silk slips with ruffled tulle petticoats in soft mint and ivory hues, as well as gentle tailoring cut from the sleekest of velvets, carrying with them the message that what the world needs now is a little more love. This is one gang that is tight and cohesive with something important to say, much like the collection.