PARIS — Showgoers got more than a whiff of the future at Paris Fashion Week this season, with a clamor of sartorial takes on female authority and an immersive, high-tech experience that got people thinking about where the world is headed.
It promised to be an eventful week, with anticipation intensifying in the run-up to Hedi Slimane’s debut show at Celine. Gucci taking to the French capital added further suspense.
“Paris played out like a fashion drama. Expectations, opinions, nerves and stakes ran high,” said Linda Fargo, women’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman.
One of the most lasting impressions — it was singled out nearly unanimously by buyers — came from the Balenciaga show, which pulled guests into the morphing universe of an LED-screened tunnel. The stark images of the immersive space, created by artist Jon Rafman, and the Demna Gvasalia-designed clothing that marched through it, seized imaginations.
A utilitarian vein ran through the shows with boiler suits and safariwear; Eighties power shoulders were amped-up a notch, and the resurgence of tie-dye seen in other capitals gathered steam and pushed into more chic territory. Cycling shorts were paired with suit jackets, a new prospect for the office, and a softer version of femininity proved a steady force against the backdrop of charged gender discussions in the #MeToo era. Ever-present travel themes took fashion to the beach, and Saint Laurent brought inspiration from warmer climates, lining a pool facing the Eiffel Tower with a backdrop of white palm trees — another buyer favorite.
“World travel is a major message on every runway, bringing exotic pattern, prints, embellishment and a free-spirit attitude to the season,” noted Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus.
Paco Rabanne, this season’s breakout label, was a key example, delighting loyal followers and earning new ones with floral prints, sari skirts and lace.
Here, a roundup of the Paris highlights from retailers:
Roopal Patel, senior vice president, fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue:
This was one of the most anticipated Paris fashion weeks in some time, with Hedi Slimane’s debut collection for Celine, Gucci moving from Milan and the first season without Phoebe Philo on the runway. The City of Light did not disappoint. It delivered creativity, design and beauty.
Favorite collections: Chanel, Dior, Valentino, Givenchy, Dries Van Noten, Balmain, Isabel Marant and Off-White.
Trends: Utility/cargo dressing, Eighties New Wave, Cali living, boho luxe, performance sport, jersey dressing, fringe, feathers, crochet, silver, neon, vibrant and bold colors, white-out, the jumpsuit.
Best venue: We felt like we stepped into “The Matrix” at Balenciaga’s digital installation. The show and the experience are a sign of the digital times we live in.
Say bye-bye to: Bye-bye, cold shoulder; hello, one shoulder.
Must-have item of the week: Anything tie-dye. We saw everything from couture tie-dye at Dior to denim tie-dye at Stella McCartney.
New talent: Marine Serre’s star continues to rise.
Natalie Kingham, fashion and buying director, Matchesfashion.com:
Favorite collections: Valentino, Paco Rabanne, Haider Ackermann, Balenciaga and Marine Serre.
Top trends: Sandals and artful draping.
Must-have item: Summer dresses at Valentino.
Best venue: Balenciaga’s tunnel of immersive graphics.
Are budgets up, down or flat: Always up.
Say bye-bye to: Stilettos.
Talent scouting: Germanier.
Linda Fargo, senior vice president, women’s fashion director and store presentation, Bergdorf Goodman:
A few remarkable collections took us to new realms and well beyond expectations.
Favorite collections: Dior was a standout as a collection and an experience, both romantic, moving. Balenciaga’s immersive masterpiece setting of technology, vision and fashion was one for the memory banks. Dries Van Noten may have been one of our four-city favorites, an inspiring hybrid collection mixing glamour and utility for real women. We also loved Junya Watanabe’s denim redux and Alexander McQueen’s pretty and tough heroines. We went happily along with Loewe’s cool bohemian and nomadic journey. With the perfect timing of the sparkling Eiffel Tower, and the models literally walking on water, we are all in on Saint Laurent’s edgy, sexy glamour.
Top trends: The amount of all-black looks was a bit surprising, but ever-present, making head-to-toe white-out looks all the fresher. We often looked to street style for affirmation of runway trends that would most likely stick, like suiting for the next generation, the continuity of trainers, counterintuitive mix-ups, utility detailing, Ladurée sweet colors, novelty trenches and calming neutrals.
Must-have item: “It” items include denim patchwork pieces, new utility, anything tie-dye at Dior, a crochet and wicker bag from Loewe.
Best venue: Numerous brands went all-out with superlative settings and venues — Chanel, Dior, Celine, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Thom Browne, although simpler sets using Paris’ trove of historical and industrial spaces were also transporting. Paris gets five stars for venues!
Mario Grauso, president, Holt Renfrew:
Favorite collections: Chanel offered amazing pieces to wear to the beach or pool. We loved all the prints at Balenciaga. The draped cocktail dresses at the end were our favorite. Celine, because who wouldn’t love a his-and-hers tuxedo? All the hand-painted tulle and dance-inspired dresses at Dior were perfect for summer parties.
Top trends: Red, psychedelic prints, statement leather dresses and jackets, pleats, sheer and transparent evening pieces, utilitarian, oversized blazers, straw bags.
Must-have item: Pleated red leather dress at Valentino. Any of the pleated tulle dresses at Dior. A Chanel beach hat. The Celine Johnny boot. The gold python boot at Saint Laurent. The straw bucket bag at Hermès. A red inspired black biker jacket from Noir. A printed evening gown from Dries Van Noten.
Best venue: The immersive digital set at Balenciaga and Chanel’s sand beach at the Grand Palais with actual waves.
Budgets: Budgets are up in Paris.
Say bye-bye to: Acid-wash denim and platform shoes.
Sebla Devidas, women’s buying director at Beymen in Turkey:
Favorite collections: Valentino was my favorite show in Paris. I also liked Chloé, Dries Van Noten and Jacquemus a lot.
Top trends: Definitely high-waisted paper-bag pants; denim declinations; masculine tailoring; tie-dye of any fabric, fluidity of materials; pop colors/colorblocking; dramatic shoulder and sleeve details; urban chic.
Must-have item: Valentino’s earth-colored pleated skirt and top, Valentino belts and feather sandals, fuchsia Balenciaga coat and satin skirt and top, Johanna Ortiz’s fringed robe de chambre, Chloé’s one-shouldered satin nude dress, Dries Van Noten’s cotton khaki suit with striped top.
Best venue: Balenciaga with the amazing LCD screens all over and obviously the Saint Laurent venue with the models walking on water.
Budgets: Definitely up in Paris.
Say bye-bye to: No specific goodbyes from Paris.
Talent scouting: Julien Dossena designing Paco Rabanne. It was one of the best surprises of the season.
Jennifer Cuvillier, style director, Le Bon Marché:
Favorite collections: The Dior Ballet, the Dries Van Noten Tech-Cruise, the Off-white Run, the Chloe Isle, the Louis Vuitton Planet, the Loewe Beach and the Valentino Paradise.
Top trends: The trend from Milan continues in Paris with the summer isles holidays element, such as tie-dye, straw, feather, which appears on ready-to-wear and accessories, as well as touches of neon colors, technical fabrics and elevated windbreakers, which remind that windsurfing activities are not so far!
Must-have item: “Give me some air” oversize balloon sleeves blouse/dress with volume at the back.
Best venue: Chanel on the beach, Balenciaga on screens.
Talent scouting: The new complete Wardrobe of Alanui directly from the beach.
Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director, Net-a-porter:
Favorite collections: Paris Fashion Week was incredibly strong this season. Some of my favorites were Loewe, Dries Van Noten, Givenchy, Isabel Marant, Paco Rabanne, Valentino, Jacquemus, Alexander McQueen and Miu Miu.
Top trends: There were a lot of pure black and all-white looks juxtaposed with beautiful sunset colors — mustards, rusts, khaki. We saw tie-dye throughout several collections and orientalism at shows such as Paco Rabanne and Chloé, with sari and Persian prints.
Must-have item: Any straw bag from Loewe!
Best venue: Saint Laurent had one of the best show venues with water, a sunset and glowing palm trees. Balenciaga’s venue was also really incredible. We all sat in a tunnel surrounded by digital screens that were even on the floor! We were truly immersed in this ever-changing video art.
Say bye-bye to: We are seeing a shift toward a cleaner and simpler aesthetic that is really fresh and new for spring.
Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director, Neiman Marcus:
Favorite collections: Givenchy — Clare [Waight Keller]’s best collection to date. Balenciaga — the set was spectacular, but the clothes were the star. Paco Rabanne — nomadic nuances mixed with the ultimate glam was a home run on this runway. Dries Van Noten — effortless elegance filled with color, detail and pure emotion.
Top trends: Far and away — from the wanderlust of the world-traveling fashion nomads that find inspiration from multiple countries and cultures, to the pack-and-go, takeaway spirit of the holiday traveler to warm-weather locals, world travel is a major message on every runway, bringing exotic pattern, prints, embellishment and a free-spirit attitude to the season. Overt Romanticism — lace, crochet, flowers, feathers and bows dipped in candy-coated colors and more all add up to a hyper-femininity that fills the season with a romanticism that customers will enthusiastically embrace. Eighties obsession — power shoulders, neon, Day-Glo, reflective fabrics, mesh, tulle, boots. From biker to cowboy, gender-bending tailoring, and the glint and glimmer of silver, gold, sequins and beads all speak to the audacious and exuberant decadence that defined the opulence of Eighties that’s filling the catwalks and their soundtracks of the season.
Must-have item: The power shoulder on jackets and dresses; the fitted capri/bike short.
Best venue: Saint Laurent under the Eiffel Tower.
Say bye-bye to: Dressing down. The Paris collections prove designers have a definitive desire for dressing up again!
Talent scouting: Beautiful People.
Tyler Franch, fashion director, Hudson’s Bay and The Room:
Favorite collections: Thom Browne, Junya Watanabe, Haider Ackermann, Paco Rabanne, Dries Van Noten, Maison Margiela, Louis Vuitton and Y/Project.
Top trends: A sense of optimism and good vibes were celebrated with bold color in every treatment imaginable, splashed across all of our favorite collections this season. Powdery pastels, head-to-toe yellow, colorblocking, beach-y brights and free lovin’ tie-dye left us feeling that the future is neon for retail.
Must-have item: Comme des Garçons’ charm-adorned Nike Shox and a patchwork skirt with tulle from Junya Watanabe.
Best venue: The futuristic (or not-so-futuristic) world for Demna’s Balenciaga presentation, depicting a glamorous woman surrounded by technology using LED screens wrapping around the walls of the runway room set just outside of the city.
Say bye-bye to: Exclusivity within fashion as the conversation of inclusive dressing becomes top-of-mind, thanks to Maison Margiela’s charmingly diverse casting of their show.
Talent scouting: Marine Serre’s outstanding follow-up to her debut collection was the best way to kick off Paris Fashion Week. You also couldn’t help but notice the cult following starting to develop, with the brand’s crescent moon logo worn by almost all of the street-style elite.
Jeffrey Kalinsky, vice president, designer fashion director, Nordstrom; president and founder, Jeffrey:
Favorite collections: Gucci, Dior, Dries Van Noten, Celine, Valentino, Balenciaga and Chanel.
Top trends: Lots of color and lots of prints, which for us are always a great sign for retail; denim being used to make beautiful clothes.
Must-have item: The plexi-mule at Chanel. I can’t imagine any fashionable woman not owning a pair.
Best venue: Saint Laurent, hands down. They generally have the best venue.
Budgets: Up. In Paris, the budgets are always up or flexible.
Talent scouting: No one for a very first season, but there are definitely younger designers we continue to believe in, like Marine Serre and Y/Project.
Elizabeth and Dominick Lepore, owners and buyers, Jimmy’s Brooklyn and the Hamptons:
Favorite collections: Thom Browne and Sonia Rykiel.
Top trends: It was a leggy spring-summer showing in Paris this season, with trends emphasizing the power of a woman. Other recurring trends included femme fatale, microminis, oversized bows, macramé and pleated skirts and sleeves.
Must-have item: Wearing any shade of pink and a black minidress paying homage to the Eighties of the likes of Christian Lacroix and Emanuel Ungaro. Vests with pant suiting.
Best venue: Thom Browne at the Tennis Club de Paris, transporting us to the spectacular seaside shore.
Say bye-bye to: Head-to-toe daytime designer dressing; all athleticwear by day.
Maria Milano, head of women’s wear, Harrods:
Favorite collections: Lots! Dior, Loewe, Alessandra Rich, Balenciaga, Valentino and Chanel, all had a sophisticated air to them, but a sense of ease at the same time.
Top trends: The color green continues its moment in the spotlight, with a special emphasis on mint. Eyelet and lace, especially in white. Fringing carries on the boho vibe from fall. Cycling shorts and shorts in general and a Club Tropicana vibe with palm prints and sunny shades. Black is also creeping back, and last season’s statement Eighties shoulders are even more statement, with extended lengths or curved, elongated shapes. Eighties denim.
Must-have item: A white dress and a straw bag for every occasion.
Best venue: Without question, Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel set, transforming the Grand Palais into an actual beach with sand and lapping waves.
Say bye-bye to: Sport/street looks. There weren’t many sneakers on the runways at all. While trainers aren’t going anywhere, the mood is definitely more elevated.
Laura Larbalestier, group fashion buying director, Harvey Nichols:
Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten, Paco Rabanne and Balenciaga.
Top trends: Tie-dye is definitely the new print for this season. We saw a lot of strong shoulders, which I love, and biker shorts as well as statements hats. White was still continuing from [fall 2018] into this season’s collections and we saw pops of strong colors, too.
Must-have item: The square-toe boot from Balenciaga.
Best venue: Balenciaga, although more for the overall experience rather than the physical venue.
Talent scouting: I have my eye on several!
Beth Buccini, owner, founder of Kirna Zabête:
Favorite collections: We absolutely loved Valentino and Dior.
Top trends: The trends we saw most of were feathers, yellow and utility.
Must-have item: Our must-have items are a feathered Valentino shoe, the 16 Celine bag, and an Alessandra Rich dress.
Best venue: Paris had such extraordinary show locations this season. We loved Saint Laurent and Dior, but Balenciaga’s video installation was absolutely mind-boggling — and certainly the most modern and amazing show I’ve ever seen!
Budgets: Budgets are flat for runway only because the deliveries can be so challenging.
Say bye-bye to: This season we are saying goodbye to oversized shapes and hello to femininity.
Talent scouting: Runway season is a great time for spotting new talent and we’ve seen lots of exciting collections in Paris this season.
Ida Petersson, women’s wear buying director, Brown’s:
Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten, Balenciaga, Materiel, Jacquemus and Haider Ackermann.
Top trends: So many fresh trends this season. Tie-dye was everywhere, a continued return to femininity with beautiful fluid silk dresses and great sharp tailoring in abundance. Bucket hats, cargo pants and a general nod to the Aughts.
Must-have item: The Jacquemus oversized beach bag.
Best venue: Balenciaga, without a doubt.
Budgets: Up. Spring ’19 did not disappoint and we’re committed to growing our offering for the season ahead.
Say bye-bye to: Nothing completely, but I was glad to see a move away from hoodies and Ts.
Federica Montelli, head of fashion, La Rinascente:
Favorite collections: Balenciaga was the standout of the week, thanks also to its amazing venue. Demna Gvasalia keeps bringing on developments for the brand in a very convincing way. Valentino was also one of my favorites, the easiness and serene beauty of the collection cheered everyone up. Earlier in the week, we loved Dior’s modern ballerina collection. Dries Van Noten’s collection was exquisite as always, as well as Jonathan Anderson’s Loewe. Both Jacquemus and Off-White confirmed a strong outing, and Maison Margiela was on point with its “embrace your uniqueness” message.
Top trends: There is a sharper return to femininity on one side and utilitarian touch on the other. Overstated shoulders are still a big trend, from Balenciaga to Celine, the more square the better. Crochet or net layers were seen on many runways, as well as tie-dye carrying over from the other fashion weeks. Extremely short-shorts are a top trend, together with cycling shorts or Bermuda pants. Wider pants with slits are numerous. Lime was the most popular new color, together with orange and cobalt. There is still a lot of pink and lime green. There is a general feel that women want to go back and party, so we saw a lot of partywear with black and silver bases.
Must-have item: A boiler suit, dramatic trains on dresses or tunics often paired with sweatshirts; square-toed shoes, and high-waisted, carrot-shaped trousers. A crochet overlay dress and a crochet bag. A pencil skirt and a relaxed pantsuit are what you need for renewed femininity.
Must-have item: Hands down for the Balenciaga video installation, but also Dior with its contemporary dance performance under falling rose petals, and Rick Owens’ futuristic bonfire at Palais de Tokyo. Special mention to Roger Vivier’s “Hotel.”
Budgets: With the continuous development of our two flagships, Milan and Roma Tritone, as well as the revamping of stores like Florence or Torino, our budgets are always on the rise.
Say bye-bye to: Phoebe Philo’s sophisticated empowered woman…let’s see who takes up her spot!
Talent scouting: We are looking at brands like Marine Serre, Artica Arbox, Aalto and buying many new brands with a contemporary aesthetic.
Nathalie Lucas, women’s general merchandising director, Printemps:
Favorite collections: Balenciaga, Loewe and Valentino.
Top trends: A femininity settled in this season, neo-classic, infused with a more relaxed approach, thanks to the ongoing influence of streetwear style. We saw lots of skirts and pleats, like at Valentino. The Balenciaga collection is itself much more sophisticated, with logo-printed Balenciaga draping. Lovely open backs. Python patterns replace leopard prints.
Must-have item: The cyclist shorts, of course! And the pleated skirt.
Best venue: Balenciaga, without a doubt, with a unique and offbeat immersive experience. The LED tunnel pushed us into an unsettling context; we were on the edges of our seats, transfixed by the collection.
Budgets: Up, these are good collections!
Say bye-bye to: Well, maybe not goodbye, but we will see fewer sneakers and a lot more heels.
Talent scouting: Dawei — we’ve fallen in love with this talented Chinese designer for his contemporary elegance and the way he plays with asymmetry and volumes in interesting ways, also Cecilie Bahnsen, for cool and romantic looks.
Tomoko Asako, women’s buyer, United Arrows:
Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten
Top trends: Gender fluidity, with many brands presenting coed shows. A strong shoulder to emphasize female power.
Must-have item: All-in-one jumpsuits, elegant updates on workwear.
Best venue: Hermès at the Longchamp racecourse.
Say bye-bye to: Luxury street.
Alix Morabito, fashion director, Galeries Lafayette:
Favorite collections: Balenciaga: less accumulation, more couture pieces; Maison Margiela: new tailored; Chloé: the Chloé style and attitude is back; Paco Rabanne: futuristic bohemian; sensuality with no limits from Jacquemus; confidence from Marine Serre.
Top trends: Femininity is definitively back with the mini sizes, sparkle and colors. Colors (pastels and pop accents) are everywhere with a big comeback of orange. A new bohemian attitude is seen with the mix, patchwork of prints (graphic, animal), fringe and rope details in accessories. The new tailored as seen at Maison Margiela.
Must-have item: Cycling pant.
Best venue: Balenciaga had the best setup and Marine Serre had the best location.
Talent scouting: Atlein, Ottolinger and Kwaidan.