Paris Fashion Week: well-heeled enjoy liberated Dior

Spirit of this year’s collection ‘more liberated, darker and more sexual’

 

In France, Dior, a symbol of French fashion internationally, is seen almost as a cultural monument, like the Louvre, whose courtyard yesterday provided the setting for the house’s autumn/winter show, flushing out the city’s beau monde.

This time the spirit of the collection, according to artistic director Raf Simons, was “something more liberated, darker and more sexual”. No wonder then that the arrival of Dakota Johnson, star of Fifty Shades of Grey, nearly caused a riot and sent crowds of photographers outside into a frenzy.

The more savage nature of the female was the spirit of this collection. Gone was the dainty, rounded, feminine silhouette of the previous season; in its place more masculine shapes, narrow cut tweed trouser suits, oversize coats in grey, black, chocolate or emerald green and even Sherlock Holmes-style capes.

Abstracted animal patterns were used effectively in harness dresses and jumpsuits, while skirts had open pleats slashed to the thigh. Additional armour for the predatory included chainmail collars, paper-clip earrings and Perspex-heeled vinyl boots. Colour was slashed across dresses and those in mesh and patent leather had a hard glitter.

The use of leather by JW Anderson for the Spanish house of Loewe currently displayed in Colette, the cult boutique in Paris, made for an outstanding show from the young Northern Irish designer at Unesco headquarters. Colour caught the eye the whole way through – a yellow zig-zag belt that anchored dark herringbone trousers, an emerald green bag that lifted a safari coat and long lean leather coats in lilac, mint or bright red patent. Best of all was the use of metallic pleating and silvered or green iridescent skirts that caught the light, teamed with Eighties blouson jackets that kept the look casual.

At Issey Miyake, the collection focused on innovative pleating and origami fabrics. Trousers were loose and concertinaed capes and skirts bounced in kaleidoscopic colours. Everything was full, puckered and layered but a slim grey coat with zig-zag insets had more appeal in its simplicity than a chunky number embellished with tufted carpet motifs.

Opening at the Palais Galliera tomorrow is the first exhibition devoted to designer Jeanne Lanvin (1867-1946), founder of the oldest French fashion house still in business.

It is part of the house’s 125th anniversary celebrations.