Fidge Fletcher, Fashion Stylist/Editor
Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2014 collections were breathtaking. Across the board, they were extremely strong and you got the sense that most designers were inspired by Africa and art expression with the bold tribal print, but artistic handwork of the fabrics and how the silhouettes were pieced together. With the weather changing so rapidly globally, the collections changed its pace and the spring collections were more formal, with coats and heavier pieces.
With many outstanding collections from Paris, I have to break down my favourite six collections (Louis Vuitton, Rick Owens, Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Ungaro and Chanel).
LOUIS VUITTON - FADE TO BLACK
The banner event of Paris Fashion Week was Marc Jacobs leaving Louis Vuitton after 16 years as creative director and head designer of the LVMH house. After months of speculation and industry rumours about the status of Marc Jacobs' 16-year tenure at Louis Vuitton, the writing was on the runway.
The 41 looks that were in the collection were genius with slightly luxurious provocative showgirl clothing. They were elaborately designed and decorated with beads, crystals, and glossy feathers. Each and every one of the models wore an extravagant Stephen Jones-designed headpiece of ostrich plumes. Marc Jacobs never leaves out a little ruggedness and street from his collections with the heavily embellished biker jackets paired with denim and tulle tank dresses with unisex blazers.
Jacobs brought Louis Vuitton back to life 16 years ago. I loved the Stephen Sprouse-designed LV logo scrawled all over the body of Edie Campbell as the opening look which made her runway debut in handcuffs and chains. Who will be able to fill Marc Jacobs' shoes at Vuitton? It's not goodbye for Marc Jacobs, it's see you later as we all get ready to see what genius collection he debuts for fall 2014 in New York.
RICK OWENS - STOMP THE YARD (In Paris) REVOLUTIONISING THE INDUSTRY FOREVER
There was no way anyone could prepare themselves for what Rick Owens had in store for his Spring/Summer 2014 collection. To say it was groundbreaking or epic would be an understatement. Rick Owens' inspiration for this collection came from 'stepping' a traditional African American dance routine done mostly in college with fraternities and sororities. Choreographers Lauretta Malloy Noble and her daughter, LeeAnet, added other elements of Zulu dancing, to customise the designer's presentation. Owens and his design team worked with stepping teams from four sororities - Washington Divas, Soul Steppers, The Momentums, The Zetas - to coordinate and produce a performance that was as spectacularly executed.
The looks were hiked, laced, zipped and slit while still keeping true to the Rick Owens brand using leather and his signature black. With this collection, he changed and revolutionised the fashion game forever, changing the concept of what conventional beauty is. It's time for us to make our statement as to what beauty really is on the runway. With this collection standing out and trying to send a message, I believe that what we believed on day one stands: Rick Owens is that classical American designer that is here to stay.
Alexander McQueen - Africaand Pablo Picasso meet as one
A collection beyond no other! There has never been a ready to wear collection that boarders along the line of Haute Couture. Sarah Burton made this collection so intricately with the golden helmets, harnesses, and armlets of Amazons; ostrich-feathered Zulus; the intricate beaded outfits of tribal priests; the kilt over trouser combo of the Celtic warrior; the graphic geometries of Mondrian, or Picasso in his African period. The crocodile breast plates added that edge of primal strength and power for the future woman. Burton's collection also felt personal, coming off of an eight-month hiatus from giving birth to twins. The craftsmanship displayed in the clothing was beyond spectacular, the checks were placed with beads and feathers handworked with meticulousness. She definitely didn't give us gowns this time around, but instead, she gave a collection of beautiful lattice of recycled plastic, and other pieces and silhouettes.
CHANEL - ART POP (A celebration of COLOuR and ART for Lagerfeld)
Karl Lagerfeld dazzled the fashion industry with such a colourful and ethnic-inspired collection. You definitely got the feeling that Karl Lagerfeld had a great and inspiring summer for him to pump out such a wildly elevated colourful collection. It felt a little heavier for spring with the colour-blocked scarves and patchwork tweed jackets yet still giving something fresh and new that hasn't been done before. The venue of Chanel's runway shows, The Grand Palais, was transformed into a gigantic white-walled hangar of paintings and sculptures reminiscent of Basel. The signature tweed jackets were not short of art deconstructed into clothing. The styling of the collection with the hair and make-up all tied into one were collaborations with Peter Phillip and Sam Knight; the wigs were something out of a galactic future and the make-up seemed like it was pulled right off of a canvas - an infusion that is making a stamp that art and fashion is the main focal point from his point of view of where the house of Chanel will transition to.
Valentino - THE TRIBAL SOVEREIGN
Valentino's head designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli took North Africa as their inspiration this season. The opening number was an embroidered cape with beads of red and turquoise in the patterns. A change from Valentino's usual light and bright colours with the house's staple red, this collection was dark, mysterious. Piccoli and Chiuri were quoted saying "welcome to the fashion opera, a show has to be a show", and that's exactly what they put on for their spring/summer collection. The collection consisted of flat sandals with golden scarabs asserting a down-to-earth element to the collection. The romper was my favourite, floating down the runway in organza embroidered with tiny strips of leather. I have to praise how different this collection was from their July couture show, which was filled with evening gowns with nothing that screamed tame.
Emanuel Ungaro - POLKA DOTS AND RUFFLES IN PARIS
Exuberance and tenacity are some of the elements keeping Ungaro from falling through the cracks in Paris. As much as Fausti Puglisi is doing well with Ungaro in Milan, he is having a hard time selling his collection in Paris and getting the brand off the ground. This collection felt like a resort 2014 rather than a Spring Summer 2014; totally off beat with what else was going on in Paris. This collection will translate better in Monaco, Saint Tropez or the Caribbean. I did appreciate the polka-dot, slit maxi skirts with the sheer blouses with pockets cleverly placed to disguise the breasts. I also, appreciated his mixing of soft yet bold prints being styled with sheer and leather blouses. This isn't something that you see every day in stores or on the runway. This collection is better chopped and diced and taken for parts. You can pick away at the collection and find some pieces that you can incorporate in your wardrobe for the season.