Balaclavas, headscarves, feisty feminism and the warming glow of yellow and burnished gold… We pick out the biggest trends in the autumn-winter 2018-2019 collections as Paris fashion week finishes late Tuesday.
It used to be that if you wanted to get ahead, you got a hat. But that is no longer enough. You now have to wear one on top of a hoodie — if the Paris catwalks over the last nine days are any measure — or simply pull your hood over your hat.
With Agnes b, the doyenne of French street fashion, giving the looks her imprimatur in her ever-elegant show Monday, you know this is more than a tip of the hat but a full-blown trend.
Even before Paris, the hood-hat-headscarf combination was gathering pace in New York with Raf Simons at Calvin Klein and Gucci in Milan. But in the French capital, everyone from Chanel with a balaclava to newcomer Marine Serre was embracing skin-hugging head-coverings. Some of hers and Lanvin's could easily pass for Islamic.
Balenciaga tied its scarves tightly around the head, channelling both 1950s film stars and housewives, while Agnes b let some of hers trail romantically from the forehead.
Just like Hollywood, the fashion world has been rocked of late by its own sexual harassment scandals involving some of its biggest name photographers. In such an atmosphere, labels are keen to prove they were on the right side of history. Agitprop met marketing in Maria Grazia Chiuri's Dior show, which was thick with feminist and revolutionary slogans from 1968.
Agnes b, who was on the barricades herself back then, did not feel the need to prove anything while New York's Thom Browne summoned up Marie Antoinette's proto-feminist portrait artist, Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun, to immortalise his fantastically attired "strong women who cannot be ignored".
The hips of one of those strong women — Angela Merkel — became the week's most unlikely leitmotif. Balenciaga's Demna Gvasalia described his new silhouette for his "Basque" jackets as "sculptural tailoring". Everyone else called them "Merkel hips" for their resemblance to the German chancellor's outline and very personal sense of style.
Thom Browne also accentuated the hips in his beautifully worked silver and grey fitted jackets and dresses, insisting to AFP that "the shapes evoke (women's) power and strength".
The influence of Martin Margiela, the reclusive Belgian designer who walked away from his label nine years ago, hung over fashion week like Banquo's ghost. With two new museum shows opening this month in Paris, the catwalk was full of his ideas.
Stella McCartney showed dresses made from coat linings, while Sacai was a symphony of the deconstruction once practised so brilliantly by the Flemish master.
Two coats wrestled each other into submission on the backs of Yohji Yamamoto's models — another Margiela trope — while his back to front jackets and hanging sleeves popped up at Thom Browne, McCartney and Balenciaga, where the young Georgian wunderkind Gvasalia regularly references his former employer. Even the resurrected historic brand Poiret — which last showed 30 years before Margiela was born — quoted his duvet coats.
While dark and earthy colours dominated — Paris can never have enough black — gold and yellows took the chill out of many collections including Natacha Ramsay-Levi's much-admired second show for Chloe (watch out for plunging V-neck shirts and dresses).
Jacquemus used saffron yellow to conjure up a Moroccan souk while Dries Van Noten, Louis Vuitton, Lanvin and Leonard used orange and yellow touches, while Karl Lagerfeld brightened his wintry Chanel collection with burnished gold boots, trousers and jackets. (AFP)
Photo credits: Balenciaga AW18, Dior AW 18, Louis Vuitton AW18 and Stella McCartney AW18, Catwalkpictures.com
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