Between going to see presentations by up-and-coming designers, I thought I would check out some fashionable areas that I’d been meaning to visit for a while. The Palais Royal, steeped in French history spanning hundreds of years, is home to amazing designer shopping with a difference. It’s such an unusual setting, with the likes of Stella McCartney, Rick Owens, Acne Studios and Serge Lutens nestled around beautiful gardens and weathered columns.
I also discovered the most amazing vintage couture store, Didier Ludot, which had the biggest collection of Chanel I’d ever seen in a store of its type. I literally melted into a Parisian puddle when I saw the amount of handbags, shoes and accessories as well as ready to wear dresses and classic tweed suite from previous collections. You’ll also find plenty of other labels, such as Givenchy and Balenciaga. It is definitely at the top of my list of new favourite places.
Art fans will also appreciate the longstanding Daniel Buren installation (seen as France’s greatest living artist), an odd collection of different sized black and white bollards in the middle of an 18th century courtyard. The mixture of the old and new is certainly a talking point.
After tiring myself out taking in this marvellous place, a coffee break was necessary, and luckily Cafe Kitsune is to be found in the grounds of the Palais. Part of the Maison Kitsune lifestyle empire (fashion, music and accessories), the cafe is minimalist cool, with seriously good coffee and ice cream on offer, as well as merchandise.
Enough of my escapades, let’s look at some show highlights…
A palette of black, white and mustard yellow with snakeskin thrown in for good measure was the overall aesthetic for one of my favourite French brands. Go faster stripes were also indicative of a Formula 1. Models showed off colour blocked bags to good effect, carrying them sideways so we all got a good look. The panelling was very effective and there was also a great print which involved Japanese style illustrations. The use of Japanese lettering was highly effective and gave a twist to the sports luxe on show. A racing stripe top, leather miniskirt and white coat with snakeskin lapels was my favourite look.
I always worry that this wonderful French label, founded in 1946 will suffer from the Burberry effect, what with the Kardashians parading around in it constantly. You could instantly pick out which outfits Kim K would be after, however the rest of it was sublime. Olivier Rousteing created hit after hit with a flurry of yellow, black and monochrome, with statement jackets and severe lapels being highly in favour. There was a striped dress suit that worked really well and a gorgeous Mondrian like crystal studded finale. Everyone was talking about a white cut out twist jacket which was uncannily like a Givenchy piece from years ago, but it was all homage.
Albar Elbaz looked to the past to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the House of Lanvin. Both the old guard (Amber Valetta) and new girls (Edie Campbell) were to be seen in a gothic collection which started strongly with T shirt dresses worn with heavily embellished cube shaped necklaces, before marching into more sultry territory with diagonal lapels and smoking jackets galore. The middle section showed off his skills in draping, with black and white pieces in jerseys and tiered silks, with an unfinished look. I loved the use of black and navy lace towards the end of the show. Elbaz always manages to leave the audience in a state of awe, without quite being able to put your finger on what just happened. Majestic.
Although at first sight I didn’t think that this was one of Raf Simons’ strongest collections, but after looking at everything a handful of times you realise that it’s close to genius. Referencing the future and the past, he manages to create a silhouette that is both unique and instantly recognisable. The futuristic white clean lines turned into billowing 18th century white cotton nightgowns, and then to exquisitely embellished jackets and intricate mesh. I adored the bulbous shapes and the boots, which were adorned with a cubist pattern. There was ribbon-tied waistcoats and coats, and when colour did make an appearance it was showstopping (the pink jacket with black embroidery below the waist on lapels was divine).
Our next instalment looks at Haider Ackermann, Viktor & Rolf, Vivienne Westwood and the final Ready to Wear show from Jean Paul Gaultier. It’s going to be emotional…