Women conquer Paris Fashion Week

By TANYA WONGVIBULSIN | March 15, 2018

During Paris Fashion Week, the world’s fashion capital witnessed an unprecedented, strong community of female creative directors coming together to showcase their work. Whether it was Natacha Ramsay-Levi at Chloé, Clare Waight Keller at Givenchy or Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior, there are more women leading prestigious fashion houses than ever before. 

Like those hosted in New York City, London and Milan, the shows in Paris left messages that empowered women. Grazia Chiuri created a sense of feminist uprising by linking the Christian Dior Fall/Winter 2018 collection to the 1968 student uprising in Paris in the 1960s. 

The show’s venue was covered in art protests and magazine covers related to the demonstrations. The clothes also had traces of the crochet patterns and patchwork styles that were popular during this time in their designs. 

At Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld called his fashion show, which took place in a man-made oak forest, Leave Me Alone, which Anna Wintour, the artistic director of Condé Nast, viewed as a response to the #MeToo movement. (However, environmental activists in France criticized Chanel for cutting down 100-year-old trees to decorate the Grand Palais. They also pointed out the irony of such a venue being used to display the brand’s nature inspired collection.) 

Although many viewed such designers’ championing of female empowerment as evidence that the fashion industry, like many others, is moving forward, some critics questioned the motive of designers who used their shows to make social and political statements. According to Teen Vogue, some worried that brands were identifying with these movements for publicity without actively or genuinely supporting the causes. 

For instance, Bryan Boy, a fashion blogger, spoke out against Dior on Twitter.

“I honestly wish they’d follow Gucci’s lead of donating money to. cause [sic] they believe in,” he tweeted.

It’s worth noting that Gucci recently donated $500,000 to March for Our Lives. 

In addition, the fashion community also advocated for diversity by including models of various ethnicities in the shows. However, unlike New York, there was virtually no inclusion of plus-size models in the Parisian runway — a reality that will hopefully shift in the near future. 

But similar to at New York Fashion Week, which took place last month, there was a hint of the ‘80s in the air throughout Paris Fashion Week, with many looks featuring strong shoulders and bright colors. The two new “it” colors for this year’s Fall/Winter season, as spotted on multiple runways, appear to be purple and silver. 

Highlights included a gorgeous, pleated, one-shoulder halter metallic purple dress from Givenchy that bounced with the model’s every step. At Maison Margiela, a model strutted down the runway with a feather-like blue and magenta dress that, almost like a pointillist painting, combined to form a gorgeous shade of purple when viewed from afar. 

Sonia Rykiel’s collection featured a silver and black polka dot pantsuit that shone beautifully as the model made her way down the runway. Last but not least, Virgil Abloh dressed his model in a one-shoulder metallic silver dress paired with knee-high black boots. 

Two other notable trends to take away from Paris Fashion Week were statement headwear and multi-layer outerwear. Hats were the hottest accessories this most recent fashion week. 

At the Jacquemus show, models wore huge, oversized hats that trailed down their backs. At Saint Laurent, Anthony Vaccarello brought back the iconic black fedora. It was styled to cover half of the models’ faces. 

Balenciaga’s extremely oversized coats were a hot topic all over Instagram. 

“The theme of snow brought on the idea of layering against the cold. Coats upon jackets upon fleeces upon flannel shirts were progressively piled up until, by the end, there were people covered in up to seven pieces of fused-together outerwear,” Sarah Mower from Vogue wrote.

This trend of layering different pieces was also evident at Sacai. However, Chitose Abe, the brand’s founder and creative director, approached the concept of “layering” much differently than Demna Gvasalia, the creative director of Balenciaga. 

In Sacai’s Fall/Winter 2018 collection, Abe ingeniously and beautifully hybridized and patched different garments together to create mind-blowingly creative and complex layers of outwear. 

Paris Fashion Week showed us much creativity and progress towards greater inclusivity and empowerment. The shows displayed the undeniable fact that the beautiful and creative fashion world is not a bubble that can be isolated from society. 

In reality, although it may not be as diverse as it should be ideally, the fashion industry is a cultural hub that reflects the world and voices people’s opinions. It is a lens that can be used to better understand our current and past culture and society. 

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