Many come to Paris looking to explore one (or perhaps all) of the three F’s: food, a French fling or, the most eminent, French fashion. Distinguished as the fashion capital of the world, it may be no surprise that twice a year the City of Light is inundated with fashion professionals and enthusiasts alike to partake in the much-anticipated Paris Fashion Week. Girl’s Guide to Paris writer Lisa Czarina joins these fashionistas for an inside look at what’s in store for French fashion. Here are some of our picks for the season.
An up-and-comer but hardly a novice to fashion, Steffie Christiaens, whose experience springs from the ateliers of Balenciaga and Maison Martin Margiela, kicked off the Fall 2013 Paris Fashion Week at the Shangri-La Hotel. Apropos to the scenery of one of Paris’s most majestic hotels, the collection offered rich textures and layered separates illuminated in brilliant golds, pale honey and rusts. The contrast of stark blacks in draped satin evening wear made a noteworthy appearance, playing off its gilded counterparts, awakening the spirit of autumn.
Taking Paris Fashion Week to the height of femininity was Nina Ricci, who led us on a journey through the life of the ballet. While this theme finds itself a place in at least one of the collections to hit the runway every season, this particular version of the enigmatic life of dance went beyond mere tutus and leotards. Artistic director Peter Copping, whose credits boast 12 years of working for Marc Jacobs as the design director of the iconic French powerhouse Louis Vuitton, portrayed dance from the inception to completion. Parkas and fur-trimmed hooded wool jackets with opera-coat lines depicted the urban life of a dancer, presumably on her way to a rehearsal. Skirts paid homage to both the silhouette of the flared ballerina skirt as well as the long and lean stature of a dancer. Even the audience members of the ballet were present in the collection, with cocktail dresses and evening gowns in duchesse satin adorned with pleating, as well as silk and lace patchwork slip dresses. The Fall 2013 collection spoke of beauty evoked by elegance and sophistication. How befitting that the show was held at the Jardin des Tuileries.
Martin Grant, a Parisian transplant since 1992, demonstrated the ultimate in ladylike Parisian chic with the smartest collection to hit the runway this season. With his penchant for classic silhouettes, statement coats made their grand entrance in navy blue tweeds and A-line capes with velvet detailing paired with slim cigarette pants. While the contrips were kept clean, there was still a girlish quality, portrayed with a cascade of ruffles spilling down the front of one of the jackets and a sleeveless fit-and-flare party dress channeling Audrey Hepburn. Wide-legged tailored trousers contrasted sheer featherweight blouses, and form-fitting pencil skirts noted a modern take of today’s Parisienne.
Paris Fashion Week, although short lived, sets the style standard for seasons to come. Just like the classic quilted Chanel satchel, Paris stands strong in maintaining its iconic status.
Editor’s note: For the best of Paris fashion, download our walk-and-shop trips of the Marais and the 6th Arrondissement.