SS18 PFW: The Round Up

So here we are, the last stop on the SS18 fashion tour and in a city that is often described as the fashion capital of the world. From the Eiffel Tower as a casual backdrop to man made waterfalls, here are our favourite collections from the glamorous week in the European City of Light.

We all remember when Maria Grazia Chiuri, the first female creative director to head the fashion house of Dior, presented her headline grabbing “We Should All Be Feminists” slogan tee. Explorations of female power have always been evident in Dior collections with this year also unchanged. Chiuri set the tone for the collection through a copy of Linda Nochlin’s groundbreaking 1971 feminist essay ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists’ being left on each seat. The focus on patriarchal art history remained a focal point of the show with the same message used as a slogan on a t-shirt worn by the first model in the collection. Holistically, the collection also took a lot of inspiration from Niki de Saint Phalle, a French artist known for wacky, weird and colourful sculptures and paintings of women in the 1960’s. Her bold palette translated to colour block leather pants and jumpsuits on the runway. Motifs from her work, such as hearts, dragons and love trees were embroidered on lace, silk, leather and plastic dresses. Shorts were a recurring note amongst the collection too, as well as a continuation of the work wear first seen in the fall 2017 collection – think jeans, pea coats and safari jackets; and we cant forget the denim adaptation of the iconic Dior beret. Although there was a lot to take in, it was amazing to see “Chiuri bring her own personal flair to a house with such a legacy,” as put by brand guest and model, Karlie Kloss.

On the eve of the opening day, Anthony Vaccarello, creative director at Saint Lauren, had models walk a temporary runway built in Paris’ historic Place de Varsovie. Dry ice wafted through the air whilst the Eiffel Tower sparkled in the background. In terms of a setting, you can’t get more Parisian than that. As for the collection, it was a mix of dramatic puff ball silhouettes, fringed boots, embellished pieces, and leather mixed with lace. Kaia Gerber made her Paris Fashion Week debut in an 80’s influenced bubble dress with a black patent finish. Standout looks included one-shoulder glitter dresses and embellished bomber jackets for men. There were also quotes on every seat, in tribute to Pierre Berge, Saint Laurent’s former lover and life-long business partner. Vaccarello summed up the collection, humbly and succinctly to Vogue: “That girl of Saint Laurent—she wants to have fun,” he said. “She’s not depressed. She wants to enjoy life!”.

Founded by Jeanne Lanvin in 1889, Lanvin is the oldest French fashion house still in operation. They recently hired a new artistic director, Oliver Lapidus, after the departure of much loved Alber Elbaz and then shortly lived Bouchra Jarrar. It would be an understatement to say that the situation at Lanvin is troubling and arguably unfair to put that on the door of Lapidus, whose experience in fashion has been relatively unorthodox – running his own ‘e-couture’ brand and a short stint at Balmain Homme. Not to say Lapidus had to present his first collection in Paris, after only a month of preparation. Nonetheless, he resurrected the raised runway and brought back the logo: plastering the word “Lanvin” all over silk dresses and playsuits. He had models wearing the iconic tulip skirt Lanvin is known for, the limp little black dress and via raising hemlines, gave hope that the collection came across younger and fresher, appealing to a millennial audience.

Olivier Rousteing's latest collection for Balmain may have been full of the glitz that the brand's fans are used to, but in many other ways, it was a departure from last season's Amazonian, earthy collection. Opening the show was Natalia Vodianova in cool, pared-down patent leather dungarees worn over a crisp white shirt (a moment that made our hearts pang over the fact we aren't in the Balmain Army). The collection was mostly made up of black-and-white looks as Spring 2018 packed a graphic punch with wide stripes and busy patterns, underscored by the bright primary colours that showed up toward the end of the show. It was black, white and sparkly all over; and we loved it.

Claire Waight Keller, the wonder woman behind all of those Seventies-themed, dream like Chloé designs we’ve all been lusting over for the past few years, presented her debut collection for the popular French fashion house, Givenchy. Keller started her new journey via combining her men’s and women’s collection in a show called “Transformation Seduction”. For women, 80’s power shoulders were rendered in black, white, electric blue, soft silk and red. Knife pleats were cut into the dresses and vamped up cowboy boots finished the look. The men wore sharp blazers and bomber jackets completed with slim black jeans complemented by metallics and a velvet devoré leopard print for the evening. The new creative director took some inspiration from the houses 60’s and 80’s archives too - think animal prints and monochromatic tones. 

The fashion industry loves to turn something ‘uncool’ into something desirable. Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia collaboration with Crocs did exactly that. Putting his own spin on the plastic clog company, Gvasalia added a 10” foam platform to the shoe. Whist the cost of the clog is yet unknown, the footwear will be sold in all colours including pink and yellow. Held in a very non-glamorous industrial estate on the outskirts of the city, Gvasalia toyed with ideas of getting dressed and undressed. Classic coat styles such as the trench, the Harrington and the anorak were worn hanging around the neck, with empty lapels and sleeves draped lifelessly at the front. Lightweight shirts were attached to the back of dresses as if the wearer was at that very moment taking it off. There was a large focus on clashing patterns including checks, stripes and even newspaper prints.

Celine’s head designer, Phoebe Philo, once again impressed us all this week with a new, fresh SS18 collection. In a time where female power is at the centre of discussion, Philo riskily played with sexual signifiers – from broad-shouldered “power-suits” to basic anatomy. A stand out design saw a hammered gold brooch pinned to the lapel of a baby pink blazer, worn over a pleated skirt in a faded lemon yellow. The brilliance in this piece, however, was how one side of the blazer was tucked into the skirt; Philos nod to the reconciliation of sexuality on a daily basis. The variety of dresses on show at the Paris Tennis Club will have our wardrobes in a tizz (in a good way). From a white sundress to a mustard coloured shirt dress; a terracotta coloured caftan to a red and white scarf print dress. Celine has been setting accessories trends ever since Philo put haute Birkenstocks on the runway, and this season's new fugly footwear was the dad sneaker, which came in clunky black or white. Handbags were soft and squishy for cradling under the arm, or XXXL.

On the final day of Paris Fashion Week, Karl Lagerfeld presented Chanel’s spring 2018 collection in front of a life size mountain landscape complete with waterfalls, shrubbery, moats and a footbridge for the models to strut down. The aquatic theme ran throughout the collection – think Perspex earrings in the shape of giant raindrops, two tone rain boots and scallop shell edges. Traits of the brands founder, Coco Chanel, also ran throughout the collection; neat skirts, low block heels, fitted tweed boucle jackets and a lot of hats. Lagerfeld brought plastic accessories to the table, too; plastic rainboots with contrasting toes and heels, all-plastic bags, plastic hats, plastic hoods and even plastic gloves made appearances. Lagerfeld once again did what he does every season; remaining true to the house of Chanel he reinterprets the brand for the modern day woman and in his SS18 collection this could not be any clearer (plastic pun intended!) 

And that's a wrap from us. A whirlwind of a month and for the likes of journalists, PR's and buyers, the SS18 journey only continues. As for the designers? They are well on their way to AW19 and our fashion week round ups won't be too far behind...