Paris fashion week is the great consolidator, the grounder of the fashion season. It rounds off the ideas we’ve seen emerging in the other three fashion capitals, adds a few more of its own and a distinctly Gallic flourish, and ties the whole thing up in a fancy, florid Frenchy bow. It adds the punctuation. It makes the whole thing make sense. It does usually at least. This season, however, Paris seems, somehow, subdued. It’s throwing up questions rather than answers, and bucking the trends. It’s an intriguing turn of events.
In less than 24 hours, we’ve had four very, very different interpretations of twenty-first century haute couture. How to reconcile the whimsy of Marco Zanini’s Schiaparelli debut with the hyper-modern aerated layers of Raf Simons’ go-faster Dior? How could you compare the cinched-in, souped-up sexuality of Donatella Versace’s Atelier ode to Grace Jones with Giambattista Valli’s embroidered, gazar-wrapped chocolate-box frocks? Couture is about contrasts. There’s aren’t that many customers out there left, so canny couture houses are appealing to niches with deep, deep pockets.
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