Paris Fall 2012 Fashion Week, Part 1

Paris Fashion Week brought high-tech fabrics, graphic prints, bold colorblocking and lush jewel tones into the mix for fall, along with a pull-out-the-stops bash celebrating Alber Elbaz’s 10th anniversary at Lanvin and the final collection from YSL’s departing designer, Stefano Pilati.

Dries Van Noten opened the Paris shows in a stately salon at the Hôtel de Ville. His gorgeous collection featured menswear-inspired garments – wool blazers, silk button-downs, tailored trousers, double-breasted topcoats, sporty anoraks – embroidered with Chinese, Japanese, and Korean graphics (cranes, phoenix, golden dragons, and the like) sourced from artwork at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The serene proceedings were enlivened by lush kimono silks, beautiful patchwork prints, and judicious touches of fur.

Things got hot – literally – at Rick Owens, thanks to the flame-spewing metal backdrop. On the runway: billowy drop-crotch shorts with cropped leather jackets, draped turtleneck tunics, pilled-chiffon gowns, and long coats in cool shades of grey and ivory, inspired by brutalist architecture and Marlene Dietrich. On the models’ heads: lattice knit masks that served to both invite and deflect the viewer’s gaze.

Christian Dior‘s interim designer, Bill Gaytten, once again revisited the house’s iconic New Look, with a collection he dubbed “soft modernity.” It played on the nipped waist shape that Monsieur Dior himself introduced back in 1947, but the resulting peplum jackets and full, calf-length skirts were, indeed, softer – almost deflated – and felt very of-the-moment, thanks to au courant touches like contrasting leather panels, pastel colorblocking, and elegant graphic prints. And the ladylike bags and ankle-strapped platforms were, in a word, divine.

Haider Ackermann is the fastest rising star in the fashion firmament, and this outing proved, once again, why he’s being touted as The Next Big Thing. Keeping his shapes organic, Ackermann draped languid silk tops over high-waisted pants, reigned in peplum skirts and jackets with waist-whittling corset belts and finished his leather jackets with dripping hems and cuffs that called to mind very sexy bats, without making the models look as though they were wearing costumes. And – oh! – what this man can do with color! Pumpkin and eggplant were paired together to wonderful effect, while a copper blouse worn with scarlet pants and coat made for very elegant bedfellows.

Lauren David Peden writes for Rue La La as a Contributing Editor.

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March 28, 2012