FALL COLLECTIONS • TOP FIVE PARIS

by Jeremy Danté

PARIS – at the close of show season on the fashion calendar, it seems us fashion spectators, the models and editors alike are dizzied by all that has been shown at the three other fashion capitals. but when it’s time for paris, there’s a pause, a moment of silence. suddenly, all that chaos from capital to capital seems worth it, when all the effortlessly chic collections glide down the catwalk at some of the greatest fashion houses in the world. paris is a gem, and often looked to as the leader of high fashion, but this season was interesting. we seen a greater culmination of diversity across the board, and progress showed it’s face in runway casting. there was a throng of talent out of new york, while london banned together to secure a better creative future for it’s young, emerging designers and milan continued with exaggerated opulence and show stopping vibrance. paris, though vital, is just one piece of the luxury puzzle that makes up this unstoppable, evolutionary entity we know as high fashion. these are the top collections from the city of light. word up, let’s get it!

LOUIS VUITTON – the most publicized show of fashion week in paris, this season, was nicholas ghesquière’s debut for louis vuitton. to describe the collection in one word, i would choose- paced. ghesquière is a genius of many layers and many perspectives, equipped with an innovative method of translation. this season, there were injections of his own signature style seen in the collections silhouettes. his favorite girls were cast for the show, including ethiopian supermodel stunner, liya kebede. press was warded off until the end of the show, so that none of the collections themes or aesthetics were revealed before their scheduled debut. collection inspiration was posted at style.com, as photographs by juergen teller aided to convey this message in a visual format, outside of the show. there was a gentle nod to modernity, but a powerful grasp of the house of vuitton’s eternal code of french luggage aristocracy. was it jaw dropping? no. was it horrible? not at all. but was it everything that we expected it to be from a fantastical let’s-pretend-this-is-like-what-transformed-balenciaga view point? no. i respect that pace controlled this collection, so as to not rupture the existing brand identity elements of the biggest luxury handbags label in the world. a greater attention was focused upon the clothes in the collection. it was much more accessible than what we’ve seen from vuitton in the past. a staggering 90% of revenue generation at the house is racked in through handbag and accessories sales alone. vuitton’s mission in bringing ghesquière on board is to revitalize the house as a full scale fashion and lifestyle label. fragrances are said to be in the works, and elements of the luggage legacy of the label were included on design of the collection bags. while not the most powerful collection of the season, it was very precise. there is an intention in design that was felt in the story, the choice of color and the adherence to classicism as it relates to the louis vuitton. exciting new horizons, for sure.

BALMAIN – strong is the aesthetic represented at balmain, season after season. olivier rousteing have represented a savvy of youthful appeal bringing industry characters like rihanna into the houses DNA. this savvy has brought about a whole new feel of concentration to the label who elevates what ready-to-wear means in the fashion retail market. the strong shoulders, the razor sharp silhouettes were all present. there always seems to be a military feel to the house of balmain through construction. this season, that feel was elevated. details were dizzingly chic, as every seam was covered in gold hardware- it was truly a sight for gods. again, balmain continues to drive themselves to another playing field, escaping the dreary categories occupied by their luxury contemporaries. one of my favorite collections this season, and my favorite in paris this season; this collection was everything that i envision the balmain woman to be. inspired by the jungle, there was a collage of construction elements that kept the collection thrilling from start to finish. a cool set of enriched greens set to sleek leathers were presented as the model casting represented the new wave of diversity which only torched the already fire hot runway. it was all very striking, in a way that made you want to be those women on the runway. that is what fashion and design should do- inspire you to embody the spirit felt in the clothes. a new kind of woman was seen here in this collection, and unapologetically, in a very rihanna type of way; all likely intentional. strongest collection in paris this season.

GIVENCHY – romantically growing season by season, what was seen at givenchy this season could only be described as interesting. i always love to align fashion collections at labels while contrasting womenswear and menswear. this season’s womenswear collection by givenchy was feminine to the core. the menswear collection? all very masculine. i think the lines have been blurred at the house of givenchy for a while now. androgyny was the name of the game, and has been for many, many seasons at the house. tisci has mastered the fine art of blurring the lines culturally, sexually and artistically. in this luxurious manner, the collection graduated from vague categorization into something more typically feminine, but in a new way that only tisci could produce. always spot on in vision, there was a greater amount of subtlety to this collection. casting at givenchy is always a sight to see. new faces walk alongside known faces and stars are made. this season, a surprise casting for kendall jenner of elite models paris had the reality tv star little sister walking alongside supermodel joan smalls and icons mariacarla boscono and stella tennant. walking near the close of the show, i would not at all be surprised if kendall were to book the campaign for the collection which she debuted as an exclusive for in paris. not bad consdering this is her debut season on the catwalk, internationally.

BALENCIAGA – after ghesquière vacated the house of balenciaga, i had little hope that anyone could fill his place. through a twist of fate and surprise move, alexander wang was appointed as creative director and silenced critics with his debut collection which merged his street sensibility to the spanish houses own creative DNA seamlessly. as important as debut collection may be, so is the importance of pace. it seems to me, conceptually, that wang is losing steam. this collection felt like he referenced archives, but nothing too far back in the history of the house, it looked like he sourced inspiration to closely to the more recent works of ghesquière himself. this collection fell flat for me, as have the following collections that were showed after wang’s debut after his installation at the label. overall, balenciaga is a label with a rich history in innovation and forward thinking. i have long doubted that wang would be able to carry this torch to new heights. while his first collection held a great deal of promise, those potentials seems to be wearing thin. from palette to silhouette, this looked like a failed attempt at carrying over what was done more recently at the label. there is no identifiable element of wang in these clothes. this set was not individualized from past works in a way that felt new or necessary to what women of the future will and want to wear.

CHANEL – the house of chanel continues to remain supreme on the luxury sector. dominating retail sales in all avenues from fragrance, to accessories, footwear and apparel. that level of accessibility and functional luxury was brought to new heights as production for the FW14 collection staged a full scale chanel themed grocery store. this meant chain linked shopping baskets and flavored bottles of juice. there was a reliability that was so incredibly charming about it. gimmicky, maybe. well played. absolutely. another show which featured kendall jenner to our dismay, along side joan smalls and rising superstar, grace mahary. all the girls were out to stroll for chanel groceries in paris. leggings and exaggerrated silhouettes were seen throughout as the signature tweed was re-worked in jumpsuits and oversized knits. while the clothes fared more masculine than feminine, the collection was strong. conceptually from set to garment- chanel took the cake as the show to see and be seen at. this season paris had is share of lulls from the usually strong contenders. but the big names and brightest stars were included in this five piece listing. chanel will always kill on all levels, even their production of a show changes what we now envision for fashion runway shows to be. true artistry, season after season at the hand, heart and mind of the incomparable karl lagerfeld.

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