Friday, March 4, 2011

The Drama and the Glamour: The Debut of Fall 2011 Paris Fashion Week

You'll have to excuse the lateness of this post, I've been recovering from Galliano-related fashion depression for days now. More on that in it's own post, some other day. For now, I'd like to review the first of my favorite Parisd Fashion Week collections: three of the classic French fashion houses: The Houses of Balmain, Lanvin and Balenciaga.

I first looked at the lineup for PFW, I counted no less than fifteen shows that I wanted to see as soon as they hit the runway. I was delighted to see that the House of Balmain would be the first real eye popper on the list this season. The House got its debut at the end of the Second World War with Pierre Balmain, a man who would later be the tutor of the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and colleague of Coco Chanel. He would have been proud this season to view the new and interesting direction that the designer, Christophe Decarnin and his new stylist Melanie Ward, having only just started with the company this season. The collection was much less punky, as it has been in the past, but still maintained the edge the line is known for. This season instead the collection is almost disco inspired with a lot of metallics floating around. I'm absolutely crazy about those horizontal striped dresses...mmmm....

The Lanvin show is always something special, especially since the House's designer Alber Elbaz took the reigns. The history of the House is fantastic. Jeanne Lanvin, a French housewife in the early 20th century designed and constructed dresses for her daughters to wear on a daily basis. From this modest beginning, in 1909 she was creating dresses for the most powerful women in Europe and was inducted into the Syndicat de la Couture, making her a bonified Couturier. This season's collection was much akin to the tone of austerity, but in a very chic way, of course. Big black coat after big black coat made its way down the runway, but all under the shadow of extra wide brimmed hats reminiscent of 1940s maul-wear. The lovely accessories and the little flowy, sexy dresses were amazing too. All around it was a wearable, practical, beautiful show.

Finally, we had the House of Balenciaga, one of my absolute Paris favorites. Cristobal Balenciaga (wicked name!) was the founder and original designer of the house and was so renouned in his time that he was referred to by Christian Dior himself as "the master of us all". Though, like Balmain, we always expect a certain roughness about the line, known for its fabulous period jackets and the highest quality luxury goods, this season was full of over-sized florals, large shapeless coats (much like Prada, or pretty much any other designer this season...) and geometric patterns. They did manage to keep their rather somber, straight faced attitude with their clothing though, offering large fishnet inspired tops and

It seems simplicity is in this year guys, have you guessed?
I'll be back tomorrow to talk about the Vivienne Westwood, Yohji Yamamoto and Jean Paul Gualtier shows this week in Paris!