Paris marks the end of fashion month, with France’s capital showing some of the best collections from some of the most renowned designers each season. Paris is known for the greats; those long-established, big fashion houses that have dominated the fashion world – and influenced how we’ve dressed – for years; think Chanel, Givenchy, Valentino and Celine. But it’s also a fashion week that advocates those smaller cult brands; the ones that are exciting and represent modern French fashion – with the likes of Lemaire and Vetements at the forefront. As Paris Fashion Week AW16 wraps up for another season, we take a look at our favourite collections.
For AW16, KENZO designers Humberto Leon and Carol took the ’90s Japanese manga series, Sailor Moon, as their influence. The result was stiff white shirts, miniskirts, pinafores and models in pigtails. But it also had an ‘80s-meets-Victoriana style about it, with giant ruffles adorning sleeves, large puffy shoulders on pastel pink dresses, and a whole host of colours and prints.
Christophe Lemaire’s eponymous label isn’t one that likes to make a statement with flashy prints, bright colours or experimental cuts; rather it makes its statement through effortless fashion, creating those understated pieces that only the truly style-confident can pull off. Lemaire’s AW16 collection stuck to this aesthetic, with a palette of black, cream and soft caramel – with the odd hint of red and mustard. This was loose tailoring at its finest, with oversized mannish coats topping loose cropped trousers; collarless shirts that sat just on the shoulder; and shirt dresses that came over contrasting trousers and blouses.
Since Adrien Caillaudaud and Alexis Martial took over at Carven three seasons ago, the French brand has been given a new lease of life, going back to its young, slightly sporty aesthetic it was renowned for in the ‘60s. Carven’s AW16 collection was contemporary, yet ‘70s-inspired, with shearling coats and boxy jackets making up some of its best pieces. Skirts were high and mini, paired with retro sport-inspired jumpers and turtlenecks, while trousers came cropped, printed or coated in PVC.
Vetements is having a moment. The collective, led by Demna Gsvalia, is shaking up Parisian fashion in a big way by turning everyday street style into high fashion – and it’s working. It’s the label that every tastemaker worth their salt is wearing, and its influence on other brands and designers is unprecedented. For its AW16 collection, oversized hoodies and bomber jackets were worn with leather knee-high boots, a nod to tailoring was found in velvet suits and check shirts, while the classic school uniform was deconstructed into loose shirts, thigh-high socks and tiny tartan skirts.
It wouldn’t be Paris Fashion Week without Chanel – quite possibly the most anticipated show of the season, as much for its set as Karl Lagerfeld’s new take on traditional heritage designs. This time though, there were no theatricalities – no airport, supermarket or demonstration – rather, it was a more sedated affair with the Grand Palais turned into a couture salon, harking back to Coco Chanel’s original presentations. The AW16 collection was distinctively Chanel but it was slightly younger, more wearable and practical (if Chanel can ever be described as practical). Think layered tweed suits worn with knee-high boots, padded boater hats, quilted jackets and clean, dark grey coats adorned only with a few strings of pearls.
Words by Angharad Jones. Images property of Vogue.