Paris Fashion Week: sunny weather for a wintery show

Irish designers Lucy Downes and Una Burke impress at the two top trade events

Spring was in the air in Paris as sunshine drew out the Sunday crowds, but on the fifth day of fashion week winter remained the focus. The main shows held in way out locations in the 16th and 19th arrondisements were Celine in the Tennis Club of Paris and Kenzo in the Paris Event Centre.

Under Phoebe Philo's guidance, Celine continues to be a carefully watched and monitored international brand with a minimalist vision that regularly "inspires" high street imitators. There were expectations that Joan Didion who fronts the current campaign might attend the presentation, but there were no sightings of the celebrated US novelist.

At the show the terracotta and cream chequerboard catwalk and ceramic seating provided the first signals that this collection was about craftsmanship. It showed immediately in the handwork of the opening numbers – long dresses in black and white crochet and ribbon appliqué, some trimmed with feathers, soft quilted silk tightly buttoned coats with cutaway shoulders and orange and brown satin lingerie dresses with flying ribbons. The footwear, a new take on old fashioned handwoven styles had jewelled embellishment.

If all this sounds like a departure from Philo’s usual spare and sharp looks, it was, but it was also a development of the freer and more relaxed spirit of the earlier spring collection. Some pieces worked and some didn’t. In between the boudoir dresses, the strange oversize fur pom pom scarves and pinched leather coats, were desirable items like a zany zebra striped coat (and bag), pale cat print silk blouses and shapely knit dresses, some with sporty racer backs. The designer obviously has no issues with fur, like Kanye West sitting front row, using it Cossack style to trim the cuffs and hems of shapely coats.


Live music and huge theatrical moving screens gave the Kenzo show a festival vibe that was reflected in the clothes — easygoing capes, ponchos and fake fur wraps, cartridge pleated tunics and asymmetrical skirts in abstracted camouflage colours. There was a lot of layering and oversize bomber jackets worn with "nocturnal" floral printed dresses. The result was a gentle warrior uniform for youthful customers – a little bit boho, a little bit street, all brought together with cross body backpacks, bucket bags and Chelsea boots.

Irish designers

Irish designers showing at the two top trade shows, Paris Sur Mode and Premiere Classe in the Tuileries Gardens are Lucy Downes with her Sphere One knitwear collection and Una Burke known for award winning crafted leather accessories.

Elsewhere Lainey Keogh shows her extensive collection of innovative fabricated cashmere privately in the Westin Hotel. Most report buoyant interest from US buyers and Sphere One has introduced some handknits for the first time along with her superfine cashmere sweaters and scarves.

Burke’s new line of cuffs, harnesses and bags that are etched rather than layered and are thus less expensive are proving popular while Lainey Keogh’s luxurious silver embroidered felted coats and haute cashmere wraps attract clients from both the east and west coasts of the US.

Jeanne Lanvin

Opening at the Palais Galliera is the first exhibition devoted to the pioneering designer Jeanne Lanvin (1867-1946) and the founder of the oldest French fashion house still in business. Over a hundred fashion treasures mostly from the 1920s and 1930s are on display highlighting the couturier’s delicate embroideries, workmanship, quiet chic and refinement.

Albert Elbaz, current artistic director of Lanvin along with Olivier Saillard of Galliera, have worked together to curate the exhibition which is part of the celebrations of the house’s 125th anniversary. Thematic rather than chronological in presentation, it demonstrates how fashion changed after 1910 and how modern certain items seem today like a black silk t-shirt dress, a caftan in pale green and a beaded velvet swimsuit from 1924.

The homage includes scrapbooks, photos and sketches. "We are still an industry that depends on seamstresses and a needle and thread" said Elbaz. "We are a human industry and that's what we show in this exhibition." It runs until 23 August.

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan is Irish Times Fashion Editor, a freelance feature writer and an author