International Women’s Day was punctuated by a Céline show in Paris on Sunday, where the kind of clothes that challenged your comfort zone served as an interesting theory in the evolution of taste. Could it be that my palette is not refined enough yet to understand the subtle shifts, quietly slouching — or is it marching? — towards blown-up, larger-than-life animal prints?
Were the white sneakers, which seem largely dead outside of Paris (trend inception, anyone?), supposed to serve as a reminder that through the new season’s trial and error, there remains a distinct level of familiarity?
Raf Simons for Christian Dior played with a similar motif on Friday (and, coincidentally, showed the same latex boots from couture) and Phoebe Philo’s most recent conception had it shimmying in Zebra and large fur balls which, granted, aren’t exactly animal, but then again: if a leopard can’t change his spots, maybe a Philo can’t change hers either.
The 70s approached Céline’s new world, too, boasting wide fur trims, more turtlenecks, pointed collars and the kind of high waist, wide leg pants that the designer has mastered. But it was the sleeping bag cape, fur-balls-as-arm-accessories and fitted double breast wide-hip coats which were broken apart at the shoulder that spoke for the following season, and maybe all of us as women.
They all looked deliberately imperfect.
A few hours later, Maison Rabih Kayrouz by the Lebanese, hypothetical and completely unofficial successor to the energy of Céline showed his streamlined, decidedly wearable but also incredibly thoughtful collection on a leopard print rug in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. There were details like mismatched buttons on his poplin blouses and some dresses and cut-outs as if executed by a massive cheese grater on his hem-less skirts that lent a dose of character to his clothes, which, by the way, were not at all revolutionary (do they have to be?) but still triggered that overwhelming feeling (see: traditional plaid print set on unconventional suit) that you get when you meet someone new, who you kind of just know is going to stay in your life forever.
Is there a time period that expands beyond forever? I’d hope so — and that’s how long I anticipate Clare Waight Keller’s Chloé sticking around in my personal narrative.
The collection that she showed yesterday at the Grand Palais stood as a frequent reminder that it was International Women’s Day. The feminine long dresses, shown in tones you might call earthy, made her models look like they were floating. The dresses were often cloaked by floor-length military coats accented with double breast gold buttons or heavier pants and boots. These conveyed a duality about the way a strong woman operates — displaying gentility and temperament with chiffon-that-floats on the one hand, but an equal dexterity to act with grim authority on the other. This was highlighted in the coats and capes.
There was an invariable underlying sense of French-ness through the collection in part due to the black neck tie-cum-chokers mirroring the divinely 70s-centric continuation from last spring. (Some of those summer dresses are due to become the “it-pieces” of the imminent season.) For fall, those pieces might very well be a pink velvet vest and pants and a light blue corduroy postmodern suit. Both looks supported a theory about a unique frequency that members of the industry seem tuned into: You see a beautiful dress traipse by and maybe you take a photo, maybe you don’t. But when you see the piece — and in the case of Chloé that piece is always one that shouts “This is my life! This is what I will wear to live it!” — the room is commanded, as if by blatant request, to indulge in a collective gasp.
And as it does, phones come out, notes are jotted more rigorously and within minutes, those same looks have been shared in spades on social media. You just feel so well understood.
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