x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Statement pieces make designer marks in Paris

If Saturday was a day of quiet classics on the catwalk, Sunday was all about statements of intent from designers new and well-established, with an air of renewal at Kenzo, Issey Miyake, Hermès and even Givenchy.

A look from designer Andrew GN at Paris Fashion Week
A look from designer Andrew GN at Paris Fashion Week

If Saturday was a day of quiet classics on the catwalk, Sunday was all about statements of intent from designers new and well-established, with an air of renewal at Kenzo, Issey Miyake, Hermès and even Givenchy.

Not so for the Paris-based American designer Andrew Gn, though, who looked back 100 years in his collection, to the Art Nouveau style as it was influenced by Japanese design. While the inspiration may have been archaic, his interpretation was proof that modern need not mean plain, with the stiff, richly patterned brocades folded origami-like, tight to the bodice and springing out into the full skirts of jaunty suits and feminine frocks. The kimonos of Gn's Japanese grandmother offered the basis for jacket shapes, elbow-length sleeves and prominent beaded belts. The daytime looks were certainly the most successful, with sumptuous textures and rich colours in jacquard silks, and even bubble-hem skirts with silvery prints. Concessions to the season's prevailing trends included a powder-yellow minidress, crisply gathered at the waist, but the eveningwear looked a little old-fashioned. Floating chiffon gowns with embellished belts and beaded bodices were beautifully constructed and will certainly sell well, but given his grandiose theme, they felt a little pedestrian.

At Issey Miyake, the young creative director Yoshiyuki Miyamae produced an electrifying debut collection, earnest and ravishingly beautiful. Admittedly, he had won over the crowd in the steamy Tuileries tent before he even started, by offering them iced bottles of water and fans. But it was the narrative of his show that really made an impression. The clothes were intended to represent the blooming of flowers, starting with simple neutral suits and gradually revealing hints of colour until a finale that saw the models float down the catwalk in exotic graduated hues, from rich cobalt to sunshine yellow, wearing organic headpieces by Christophe Coppens that looked like the tips of flower stamens. As they stood together around a rod of light, it was a moment that could have been as silly as any fashion spectacle but was, in fact, genuinely moving. None of that would mean anything if the clothes weren't good, but they were: wonderful, draped, silken tunics, high-tech sheer, fine knits with prismatic prints (from a traditional print house in Kyoto) and neon sporty leggings beneath. Miyamae got off to a superb start.

A sense of cleansing was also in place at Hermès, where Christophe Lemaire's second collection for the ultra-luxurious French brand offered austerity, simplicity and, of course, a hefty dose of stealth-wealth quality in off-whites and caramel shades.

Another first collection came from Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, the duo behind New York's super-hip fashion store Opening Ceremony, which made its debut at Kenzo on Sunday. There were few signs here of the romantic florals and artisanal details of Kenzo's last few years under the Sardinian designer Antonio Marras: this was the edgy side of Kenzo Takada's original Jungle Jap store, with New York polish on top. And the pair (too camera shy to take a bow) really did bring the Big Apple with them in their 15-minute presentation, to be repeated for a changing audience over two hours. Bored to Death's Jason Schwarzman stood in a corner with a drum kit, accompanying a reworking of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and a brunette Chloë Sevigny closed the show in a silky blue boilersuit. The clothes reinforced the message of the song: nothing fussy; just bright primary colours, strong shapes, functional fabrics, sporty urban staples and, once in a while, a seaside-themed print. It was as unParisian as can be, and all the more exciting as a result.

At the other end of the scale of Parisian-ness, Givenchy is always a big event, with a star-studded crowd (Liv Tyler, Kanye West, Ciara, Naomi Campbell, Juliette Binoche), even if it doesn't start till nearly 9pm and is held in the courtyard of a secondary school on the Boulevard Malesherbes. As if in sympathy for the foot-sore journalists and buyers, Riccardo Tisci sent his models out at frantic speed, with barely a pose for the photographers, and the whole presentation was over in minutes, finishing with Gisele Bundchen back on the catwalk. That energy - accompanied by pounding, hyperactive music - extended to the clothes too, with Tisci developing his normally rather sombre ready-to-wear into exaggerated silhouettes, extravagant ruffles and theatrical jacket peplums. Fabrics included sequinned pinks, silky khaki, a leopard-print and silvery sequins, as well as matte black paillettes - and shark's-tooth necklaces enhanced the aggressive power of the stomping, glaring models.