Standout Designers to Watch
Here are the standout shows and collections from Paris Fashion Week. Why? Because each of these designers had something individual, focused and edited to communicate. They aren’t trying to be anything other than true to their own fashion vision. Integrity is an undervalued quality in a designer.
Not everyone loved this, but the straightforward statement of clothes and pieces rather than a spectacle or self-indulgent catwalk was so refreshing from this young designer. There were great colours of lilac and moss, sand and black, lemon and tangerine, since this collection was inspired by Morocco. With an ease of silhouette thanks to the soft fluidity of the collection, and accessorised bold coloured leather tote bags, these clothes could in fact travel the world as a wardrobe of pieces.
This season, colour and pattern were out in full undiluted strength with embroideries, prints, appliques, and embellishments running riot across the surface of almost every piece, as well as the accessories. Yet there was a beautiful harmony to all this, created by the hand and eye of a confident practitioner of his craft. The softly swirling layers of tulle, the tiny jewelled bags sling across the body, the huge padded scarves knotted around the neck and the decorated platform shoes were like works of art in themselves, and overall effect stunning.
Modernity can be hard to pull off as a theme, however it was conquered by this collection set in a triangular space with three models appearing each time. The silhouettes were brilliant, from sharp fit and flare to a triangular trapeze swing. The iridescence of the fabrics and the mother of pearl sheen was beautiful, and the balance of the edit perfectly judged. Intricate knit sweaters in brights or monochrome complemented simple shifts in hologram textures.
The softly structured tailoring, the surprise colour combinations and the nonchalant chic of this collection spoke of Paris. My favourite piece was a simple black dress with a wide banded neckline finishing in a knot. It slipped off one shoulder, slithered around the body, and was the ultimate little black dress. Throughout the collection, the various ties and knots of the clothes drifted in the air as the models walked past, adding to the collection’s air of lightness and ease. It says much for the pieces that the models didn’t change after the show but kept the clothes on for some time.
In the Hemingway bar at The Ritz, the clothes of daffodil yellow, bright scarlet, brilliant azure blue and blush pink appeared totally at home. The trouser suit is the key to the collection and, based on the visual evidence, is divine to wear when chattering with friends and sipping cocktails. No tricks, no mistakes, the collection was the perfect edit with a strong style statement.
These harlequin sweaters and sequined graphic blousons were snappy pieces with colour, verve, and wit. Set around bumper cars, with a candy floss stall and a juice bar, this was fashion as fun. Every piece could be taken away and given an individual twist by its wearer. Here, the designer popped it all together and presented us a vision of the season reminiscent of Carnaby Street or the ‘swinging London’ boutique, Mr Freedom. But equally, a single bright jacket could be worn with anything from monochrome to jeans or a pleated skirt.
It was the flow and calm movement of the models that lingered in the mind after this show. In a world of speed, these padded coats and jackets, and long softly constructed dresses, seemed to move in slow motion. The prints in calm or classic colours didn’t shout, and the sureness of the edit once again demonstrated the importance of clarity and creative vision. The movement was characterised by coats that were flung rather than worn, and the fringing that flipped and swayed across the collection. This was above all a signature collection, developing the designer’s repertoire without tricks – offering further evidence that confidence and staying true to your personal creative vision brings its own rewards.
The way he slices into shapes, the way he places proportions, and the way he uses fabric are all the hallmarks of a designer with something clear to say. Each look was perfect: the swing of a cropped jacket over a slender bell skirt suspended from a deep basque, a slice of gold quilting shimmering against matt surfaces, monochrome chevron wool with trumpet-shaped sleeves falling around the sides bringing a hint of Hungarian military to the look, a wrapped denim jacket over gold and black brocade, a grey coat pinched at the waist, and the fall of black pleats forming a simple dress over slim pants.
The fabrics of this Swiss brand are fabulous. However, without the creative grace of designer Albert Kriemler this would mean nothing. This season, joyful greens and blues exploded on the runway, often with split panels, transparence or a softness giving them a lightness. The leathers were of great lightness too, so that the layering remained slender and flattering. The highest quality finishes, and the clean lines of every garment dismisses fuss and excess yet without ever being boring. Beautiful simplicity is one of the most difficult effects to achieve in fashion.
The brilliance of this collection was in using massive volume yet bringing an elegance to the look. A white padded and curved jacket worn over a huge softly folded white skirt, or a huge padded and cropped black-hooded jacket over a slim ice blue skirt, a stitched oversize black patent jacket lined in white fleece over a full matt black skirt. Add in huge but amazing bags and the odd flurry of a fur scarf, and the collection seamlessly fused edge and chic in a strong collection for urban clients.
Carine Gilson is known for her lingerie already. But this is really like any lingerie you’ve ever seen – it’s like it was conjured by a sorcerer in colours to dream of, like face powder pink, palest chartreuse, cobweb grey and Chinese lacquer red with silk satin suspended from the tiniest threads of ribbons and lace so delicate it is remarkable. Now Carine has added evening wear, like a dress of black taffeta with black Chantilly lace or a brocade coat. The boudoir setting with a tapestry hanging, an avalanche of flowers and faded boiserie just added to the enchantment.
Continuing from last season, the simple and the complex balanced each other in split pleated skirts, and layered fabric cut to split and open. This season there was also a slouchy sweater in sap green worn with a full black skirt, a beautiful asymmetric draped panel top in leaf green worn with trousers, and a shrug-on shearling jacket in deep pine green. It’s a collection to which nothing is added if it doesn’t fit and work with the collection. These are great clothes created with strong ideas and a single vision, presented in an understated manner as the models simply walk from room to room. It would not surprise me if eventually they just left the building, so at ease and confident do they appear.
Colour mixes are magical: Celadon green, Seafoam green, daffodil yellow, oatmeal, ivory and straw. The easy beauty of the clothes is shown in a long slim cuff appearing from a bell sleeve, a wide soft trouser under a curved coat, a nutmeg oversize coat over beige slim pants, and extra-wide bronze check taffeta trousers under a pale camel cardigan jacket in double face wool. But in this case, how the designer assembles those pieces is just as important as the items themselves. Clothes in exquisite fabrics in great colours, and a refinement without the clutter of over-accessorising and the superfluous.
Flounced and tiered dresses can be cloying and saccharine, but in the hands of a clever designer they take on a freshness. Unexpected textures, surprise details, and the quirky thread of subverting the very genre she seemingly embraces, means that designer Anais Mak is making a name for herself in a broader fashion mood. Shown in an industrial space and with pieces in crushed silver, crinkly panne velvet and crunchy weaves, the collection was a winner.
So many favourite things: the sporty nylon zip fronted slim top with a neat flat collar work with a full pleated New Look skirt, the simple camel coat with asymmetric sleeves, the strange abstract “dress” overlaid on a simple flared dress, the lilac draped jersey and so on. These disparate elements are not as odd as they sound since they are repeated and linked by variations. The sheer inventiveness of designer Tuomas Merikoski is light-hearted in a way that means the clothes are without a heavy subtext.
This house has been closed since the mid-twenties and is now revived. As a special love of mine personally in the history of fashion, I sincerely hoped Yiqing Yin whose Haute Couture I’d loved in the past would be a good match for the revival of the house. She did the most splendid job on this first showing and I look forward to the future. She kept many of her own signature details and ideas yet found ways to link them to Paul Poiret and his attitude to design. The asymmetric wraps and details he loved were there, the curve of the fabric without heavy construction and the sweep of the line were all included without historical parody. Congratulations.
Handbags have been a big fashion story for some time and we know accessories are the life blood of many big houses. The truth is Delvaux make truly beautiful handbags. The theme this season was Hollywood. Glamour oozed from almost every angle. Graphic black and white, ombree shadowed skins, mother of pearl gloss across a surface and brilliant sky blue, geranium red and other accents made many rather reluctant to leave the press viewing. That says it all.
Moynat bags and luggage is of such heritage quality that Ramesh the creative director must have his work cut out to improve it. As a bibliophile, he looked to his books and their elaborate bindings from over a hundreds of years. He showed us how the needle could inscribe, tattoo, decorate and embellish the leather in a tiny workshop hidden above the shop. Magic indeed. We also saw a craftswoman creating a new triangular bag shape and how this is evolved. It was a true house of wonders.
Extraordinary deep blood-red velvet bow-tied slippers, rich floral eighteenth-century brocade pumps, tiny Edwardian high heeled boots trimmed with fur, a simple streamlined mule in mushroom coloured skin were just some of the designs that meant the press were reluctant to leave, kept stroking and smiling at the shoes.
So, names you may not know, names whose ideas and talent are clear and names to watch because, in this day and age, the big labels and the logo do not always compare to being knowledgeable.
Tony Glenville shares his thoughts on fashion and trends in regular articles for our website. Tony is Consultant Creative Director to London College of Fashion (LCF), University of the Arts London. He is Couture Editor for Luxure magazine, and his prolific career in fashion journalism has seen him covering the major fashion scene, haute couture, and London and Paris Fashion Weeks, as well as working with NOWFASHION, Schön!, Antidote, Lash, Narcisse and Renaissance magazines. He is author of the books Top to Toe, a guide to men's grooming and New Icons of Fashion Illustration. He also works closely with Fashion Scout and is a judge at Graduate Fashion Week.