Slideshow: Irish designer Sharon Wauchob’s Paris show is confident and feminine

Dries Van Noten’s show is a cracker as utility meets opulence for autumn/winter

Paris fashion week opened with Irish designer Sharon Wauchob sharing the same day's schedule on the busy calendar with Dries Van Noten and Rochas, the first of the big names to show.

Wauchob’s collection, held in the elegant 19th-century surroundings of the Calouste Gulbenkian Cultural Centre, was more relaxed in spirit than usual. There was a greater emphasis on tailoring alongside her familiar use of lace, marking a new direction for the designer. Front-row guests included the Irish Ambassador to France, Geraldine Byrne Nason.

The designer said afterwards that she is moving her studio to London in a few months time, although she may still show in Paris.

“We have worked here for so long, that I decided to relax and enjoy the collection this time. Tailoring is done so well here [in France] and I wanted to embrace that and bring in lace to balance it.”

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Pale lace

That tailoring – handsome coats with jet embellishment, cream trouser-suits, black velvet and fur capes – was softened with lace skirts and pale lace dresses. Even leopard print stole into the collection, anchored, as with many other jackets and coats, with silver buckles. Accessories polished off the collection: Mongolian fur bags with shiny oversize chains worn cross-body, and sleek snakeskin ankle boots studded with huge silver eyelets. It was all very confident, controlled and feminine.

Dries Van Noten, who has nearly 500 points of sale around the world and is involved in every aspect of his business, knows about control in every sense.

Who else could have sent out such a cracker of a collection in which utility met opulence and the everyday became glamorous? Cargo pants became evening-wear when topped with peacock sequinned knits, and long apron trains billowed behind khaki dresses, while languid floor-length coats swept over short sparkling skirts.

Magic touch

Not many could mix gold brocade with khaki, Mongolian fur with quilting and top a military-style ensemble with feathers and velvet, but he is a man with a sure and magic touch.

Front-row guests included Jane Birkin, joined at the last minute by Kanye West.

In another strong show at the Bibliotheque National, Lemaire designers Christopher Lemaire and Sarah Linh Tran sent out an elegant, long-lined and layered collection in plain gabardine, denim and tweed that had elements of Cos, the control of Jil Sander, and with the thoroughbred look of Hermes. The pair are collaborating with Uniqlo on a collection this winter.

French lessons Life after college Éadaoin Ní Drisceoil, from Fermoy, Co Cork, won a €10,000 bursary and a six-month placement with Sharon Wauchob in Paris with her graduate collection at Limerick School of Art and Design. It was inspired by Jeffrey Eugenides' novel 'The Virgin Suicides'. Although her placement ended in December, she stayed on with the company.

“I have developed my eye – my taste level before would have been more about pop culture and the quirky side of fashion, but now I am learning the craft and the whole luxury side and the importance of investment in fabric.”

She lives on the Ile St-Louis and her French has improved. “I know how to say cut once or cut twice, cut on the grain. I know the studio lingo and I want to stay because you are learning all the time. I want to continue to develop and maybe do a master’s down the line.”