Eccentric style on display in Paris for fashion week

by Elisse Miller

All good things must come to end, and such is true for the biannual four-week-long span of fashion shows.  Models, photographers and writers settled in Paris for the last of the fashion weeks after covering New York, London and Milan.  The City of Love served as a suiting backdrop to some of the most interesting and beautiful garments the industry can provide.

Several of the fashion world’s biggest labels show in Paris.  Earlier shows laid the foundations for the clothes of fall 2013: straight-legged trousers, structured jackets and floor-length dresses.  The Parisian designers maintained these trends and the fashion-friendly black and white color palette.  Gareth Pugh hung A-line gowns of gray suede and black leather onto corpse-like models, creating a gothic fantasy expected of Pugh.  Balmain showcased opulence through quilted gold, pink lame and pointed shoulders, a silhouette the brand used as a crutch for several seasons now. Comme des Garcons continued the season’s theme of feminine meets masculine.  Designer Rei Kawakubo took suits of black, white and gray and turned them on their heads by warping their shapes through exaggerated shoulders and the unexpected placement of large rosettes.  Kawakubo is notoriously skilled at this shape manipulation, which pays off at every runway presentation.  Givenchy proved that punk can also be stylish by sending models down the runway with candy-colored coifs and shirts of half plaid and florals.  If I weren’t a broke college student, I’d pick up one of the mixed media sweatshirts sprinkled throughout the presentation, preferably the ones displaying Disney’s “Bambi.”

The show that had fashion bloggers and magazine editors on the edge of their front-row seats was Balenciaga.  In November, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Balenciaga’s creative director of 15 years, stepped down.  It was not long after that designer Alexander Wang was appointed as the new head of the label. Many doubted Wang’s ability to step in an established fashion house because He only started showing at fashion week since 2007.  Wang was able to leave his signature sporty aesthetic with his eponymous line, instead presenting a collection that was minimalist in both palette and structure. Most importantly, it was 100 percent Balenciaga.

My personal favorite collection to show in Paris was Manish Arora.  While it’s not a staple fashion house, Arora inserts playfulness into his work that many other labels fear to do, making his brand one to watch.  In his fall collection, delicate gold chains and iridescent jewels embellished black dresses. Skirts and shift dresses were printed with surrealist landscapes.  This collection brought together punk attitudes, girly motifs and classic shapes, something I attempt in my own wardrobe.  Arora achieved this through oversized nose rings, heart patterns and good tailoring.  With so many colliding elements, this collection lacked an element of cohesion.  However, I am willing to forgive Arora because every piece on display was both unique and wearable, which is a difficult dichotomy to pull off.

Now that fashion week for fall season is done, it’s time for designers to head back to their sketchbooks and inspiration walls until spring brings fashion week back.