Wearing Valentino dress, Karen Walker glasses & Mulberry shoes with MAC Candy Yum Yum lipstick
Image by Lord Ashbury
Ahhh PFW day 5, the penultimate of the week and, in my limited experience, the most magical of them all. Unsurprisingly, it followed a night out of epic proportion including the Fendi cocktail party, a hilarious dinner party at Osman Yousefzada’s Parisian pad, the Fendi after party and assorted other carousing that culminated in my not being able to order an Uber and crashing at a friend’s place. Why is it that the best parties always seem to precede really important next day? There was of course, no time to dwell on that or lie in a darkened room eating pizza and watching Friends as my first show was none other than Chanel…
With Tamamra Kalinic outside the Chanel Show
Image by Marie-Paola Bertrand Hillion
There were many “pinch me, I’m dreaming” moments during fashion month and at the risk of sounding trite beyond belief, it still feels utterly surreal to actually be there. This sense of beautiful surrealness began to reach critical mass when I arrived at the Chanel show. As I mentioned in my first PFW diary, while each of the four main fashion weeks have their own star shows, hot hangouts and atmosphere making it impossible to actually play favourites, when it comes to all out spectacle no one holds a candle to Paris. And king of the catwalk spectacular is, of course, Karl Lagerfeld. Last season he wowed and divided in equal measure by transforming the Grand Palais into Boulevard Chanel and staging une manifestation. The year before that he had some people in raptures, and others declaring “Coco spinning in her grave” with his haute supermarché. This time around, we were welcomed into Brasserie Gabrielle; think traditional Parisian brasserie – albeit a super luxe one – supersized and serving petit déjeuner to hoards of hungry and/or hungover fashion week-ers. Several much needed coffees and one ill advised attempt at a Mimosa later, I took my seat and spent a happy fifteen minutes examining the bag of lipsticks waiting on it (thanks Karl!) until, all at once, a tweed clad, newly brunette Cara Delevingne emerged from the revolving brasserie door that served as an entrance to the catwalk.
How many ways can you rework a tweed jacket? It’s a similar question to that often uttered in regard to Burberry’s trench coats. Well the answer, if your an innovator like Lagerfeld or Christopher Bailey, is infinite. For AW15 Lagerfeld tapped into all of the codes of the Maison; boucle tweed jackets, black toe caps, mid-heel slingbacks, head bands, pearls, quilted handbags. But if you think for one second this seems like a throwback then think again, my friends. The designer took these timeless, trademark Chanel pieces and spun them in new and thrilling ways. Jackets came with puffed up sleeves, quilted from tech fabrics with thousands of miniascule bows creating an almost spiky, 3D effect. Heritage fabrics including thick wools, tweeds and houndstooth checks were embellished, layered in clashing patterns and off shades, applied to parkas, puffas, bombers; think the most traditional fabrics and age old couture techniques elevating streetwear staples and forming voluminous, almost sculptural shapes.
Despite the dramatic eye makeup, deliberately haphazard multi coloured layering and piled up gold jewellery there was a real sense of elegance and refinement to the collection. It was easy to see it worn by seasoned Chanel clients, nonchalant Parisiennes and young, moneyed it girls alike. I couldn’t help but feel that Gabrielle Chanel would have approved, regardless of Lagerfeld’s deliberate flouting of her “take one accessory off” rule.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when you’re feeling a little *ahem* tired, nothing sorts you out like attending a truly amazing fashion show. Sadly this technique can’t be deployed throughout the year but, oh, I wish it could. And the day was only just beginning, more surrealness would soon ensue. Next on my agenda was an appointment at Dior’s stunning Avenue Montaigne HQ to view the Haute Couture collection which was, of course, extraordinary. After that I stopped by my friend Richard’s showroom to persuade him to join me for a carb heavy lunch (he’d been my fellow carouser the previous night) before heading to the Tuileries for the Valentino show.
I know I don’t need to tell you about the Valentino finale (although obviously I will anyway) but there has since been a fair few articles examining whether it overpowered the clothes. Well, while the Zoolander spectacular may have made a few more headlines initially I can tell you that nothing, and I mean nothing, could have topped what Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccoli cooked up in the ateliers this season. I mean, good God this was incredible stuff. On second thoughts, to refer to anything on the Valentino AW15 catwalk as “stuff” is tantamount to sartorial sacrilege. The show opened with an array of monochrome day looks in dizzying geometric prints. Dramatic ankle grazing overcoats, fisherman’s knits paired with midi skirts and black leather boots, tabard like shirting that felt almost ecclesiastical, serenely simple ice white blouses and perfectly cut culottes, leather panelled black chiffon dresses and phenomenal patchworked furs in loose, throw on shapes. Then, of course, there were the gowns.
The most intricate, richly detailed, labour intensive gowns imaginable. Heart meltingly beautiful confections formed from different panels of lace, tear drop printed silks alongside and an array of the most utterly incredible, multi tiered stiffened chiffon creations that looked like exquisite, otherworldly sculptures on the body. How it’s actually possible, even in the expert Valentino ateliers, to make gossamer fine spiderweb lace somehow melt into oil slick leather, or gowns that are immaculately tailored in the front and dramatically billowing in the back, is a million miles beyond my admittedly minimal understanding. But that is to name just a smidgeon of the fashion wizardry that was going on at Valentino AW15.
It was perhaps a more somber mood than SS15 but reflective, romantic and no less mesmerising. This perhaps made the moment that “Don’t you want me” struck up and Derek Zoolander and Hansel hit the catwalk even more fantastic. Suddenly all the previously serious faced show goers totally lost their cool, standing on the seats and pretty much screaming. It was a truly incredible show followed by a moment that was exactly what we all needed as we neared the finish of a long and exhausting month. Bravo Valentino!
I left the show with a serious spring in my step and headed back to the apartment to crack on with some work, promptly falling asleep when I got there. Having not planned on a nap, and therefore not set an alarm, I awoke in a panic about ten minutes before I was meant to be at the Paul & Joe show and missed the first few looks but managed to wangle in to stand at the back by basically begging the surly French security guard. It was lucky he took pity on my (tbh my lipstick had ended up everywhere and I looked pretty pitiful) because I want, nay, need most of the collection in my wardrobe.
Not least, I suspect, because there was something distinctly British about it all. Admittedly, these clothes weren’t artistry on par with what else I’d seen that day but the whole thing was just so damn covetable and, dare I say it, very very “me”. Pussy bow blouses, Peter Pan collars, striped sweaters and neatly cut cigarette pants; clothes every girl wants in her wardrobe, done really brilliantly and styled with stompy, clompy footwear and mussed hair for a hint of British badassery. Paul & Joe are reliably great at creating the prettiest of prints and this season saw hazy winter blooms paired with oversized shearling outerwear and killer paisley patterning on dusty blue wool, topped off by frill trimmed collars. As both a long term fan of the brand, and someone who frequently shops at Paul & Joe, their AW15 offerings guaranteed that I ended the day with both a smile and a big, fat, future shopping list.
Only one more PFW AW15 post to go! Don’t go anywhere…
Love Ella. X