Chalayan layered organza and chiffon slips dresses over strong

The vaccuum where Saint Laurent mania should have been left room for others to breathe. At Céline, Phoebe Philo added a twist to her compelling minimalism, and Stella McCartney loosened up. Perhaps it hasn’t been a stellar week for Paris’s designers. Exaggerated volumes are interesting, but not very tempting. Culottes? Maybe not. So what’s left? Techno fabrics, strapless dresses, flatforms… and once you dig deeper, more of the same kind of thing we’ve been wearing for a while. For once in Paris, commerciality trumped attitude.

You’ve got to love Bruno Woman’s split personality: one moment Parisian chickster in her skinny, kick-flared, kick-ass trousers and tailored, slightly rock-y, jackets, the next, St Tropez-boho in her spindly-strapped, oh-look-my-boob’s-just-popped-out-how-did-that-happen silk maxi-dresses. Who wouldn’t want to be this creature, with her cometh-the-hour-cometh-the-perfect-piece wardrobe? Previously, Bruno Woman has sometimes exhibited signs of being a bit crazily unbalanced. A year ago, she looked like a depressed student in Lewisham. Or maybe Marseilles. Not this time. Pleated chiffon hipster skirts, midis and a Zen palette of creams and camel segued beautifully with those off-duty holiday dresses. Plus the trouser suits were as sharp as ever. The best thing? We can be Bruno Woman. Those prices aren’t exactly Primark, but they’re not Chanel either. Lisa Armstrong
Verdict: Parisian chic with occasional days off for good behaviour. 3/5

By now, there can’t be much British designer Stuart Vevers doesn’t know about leather. He’s turned it into lace, silkily soft suede, plaited and woven it. These skills were out in force again: the suedes this time turned into sarfari-esque dresses and hooded biker jackets, all in soothingly tasteful shades of paprika, and grey and a grown-up, ultra-Spanish interpretation of one of next spring’s main silhouettes: the pencil skirt and blouson-back top. That’s all very dandy, but Paris has gone cuckoo for airiness. How do you put lightness into leather? Vevers fused it with tulle, spun it into finer-than-ever crochet or a dense looking rose weave that, from a distance, could have been brocade. Loewe’s decision to keep its ready-to-wear mainly leather is proving intriguing and Vevers seems to be thriving inside his leather-bound parameters. LA
Verdict: Hide and (very) sleek. 3/5

Like many this season, Chalayan layered organza and chiffon slips dresses over strong, sometimes neon, colours, to act as a light diffuser. But since many of the slips were more like tabards, results skidded into Blake’s 7 territory rather than the dreamy fluidity he was aiming for. That aside, there are always beautifully cut, timeless pieces in any Chalayan collection. This time these included neon peplumed sheath tops, skater skirts worn with flared, short-sleeved white shirts, culottes and typical Chalayan jackets , either cropped at the hips and boxy or curved but not tight. If the goal he set himself was minimalism with movement, mission not quite accomplished, but in terms of classic Chalayan pieces, job done. LA
Verdict: Boxy, occasionally foxy. 2.5/5

The Lanvin Look – gathered necklines, ruched shoulders, supple belted dresses – was lovely while it lasted, but has been mercilessly copied. Discreet elegance? Understated sexiness? Move over lady, it’s time for a revamp. And Duchesse satin has rarely looked this vampy. Short, block-coloured dresses, slashed all the way up the seams and held together with a series of provocative bows, pleated trousers sliding off the hips over swimwear tops, plunging tuxedo suits, scooped out backs, bare shoulders…in other hands, you’d have had to dial 99slut. Not here. One-shouldered, heavily embellished jumpsuits gleefully swerved into Grace Jones territitory, but that’s not the same as trashy. Designer Alber Elbaz made proportions, fabric and jewel colours, rather than bare flesh, the focus: those seemingly simple mini-tunics and strapless
dresses were the sexiest geometry lesson on legs. LA
Verdict: Lady meets her inner vamp. 4/5
IN PICTURES: Paris Fashion Week: Lanvin spring/summer 2013

The global pull of the Birkin, although so lucrative, must sometimes crease the crook of Hermès’s arm just a little: for there is so much more to Paris’s purest luxury house than that one emblematic handbag. Its womenswear designer Christophe Lemaire deployed every ounce of Hermès savoir faire in this confident collection. Its lush carre ACUTE ON E prints – grids, geometrics, florals, a tree of life – were used in summer-perfect separates. Its leather-working expertise shone through in baggy jackets in a chessboard weave and richly dyed crocodile or suede T-shirts and shorts that moved against the models with silky fluidity. Elegant suiting, a textbook trench coat, and some horsey, harness-like attachments galloped past, too. For that legion of bag fans? Well, there were some rhombus-print totes, a long-zippered clutch, and a house-leather rucksack: the ideal Birkin substitute for the backpack generation. Luke Leitch
Verdict: Lemaire’s future is Hermès orange. 3/5
IN PICTURES: Paris Fashion Week: Hermes spring/summer 2013

Implausibly, the leather tops and skirts weren’t really leather, but a synthetic that had been dyed and then treated by moonlight. Sounds like hokum but this is a designer who revels in the practical applications of clever design and makes it sexy. Who are we to quibble over moonlight?
Mouret’s beloved slinky silhouette got a subtle rather than radical reboot with tangy shots of orange, spirulina and white and a sportier silhouette. A young Stephanie of Monaco was in the mix, he said, in the high-waisted trousers worn over leotards. Obi-inspired tops with racer-backs and pencil skirts with Mouret’s trademark hem-to-waistband zip added to the sense of a woman with an urgent agenda above and beyond her fabulous wardrobe. Mouret said he’d been inspired by the early Eighties and Paris’s notorious Palace nightclub, but it looked clean, chic and, thanks to the organza fabrications, discreetly luxurious. LA
Verdict: Speed-dressing for speed-dating. 4/5


Post-show, this most Parisienne of designers said she aims to give women ready-to-wear that they can really wear – gear to get you from that morning Vespa ride to the lycée gates right through to that midnight Marais rendez-vous. Marant, though, makes more than Bastille-ready Boden: it’s hyper-sexy stuff, and not necessarily quite as pratique as she preaches. This was a hibiscus-print, coral-studded, Hawaii-flavoured vision of next summer. Studded short-shorts, studded jeans, bravura Bardot swimwear and crazily-paisley chiffon Promenade-stoppers were there for day, while for night there were dresses that brought neckline and hemline daringly to daring near-alignment – yet never quite erred from boho territory into Soho territory. LL
Verdict: Aloha, boys. 3/5

Like Keats, Riccardo Tisci is half in love with easeful death. Make that wholly in love. And the death ain’t so easeful, judging by the perennially consumptive pallor of his models or the vast church organ ominously positioned by the catwalk. Truth to tell, these Wuthering heroines looked a little out of place in their new Givenchy togs which unexpectedly paid a visit to Happyland, a place where the beautiful waft around in palest blue gazaar or silk crepe dresses and suits, making dramatic entrances and even more dramatic exits, thanks to scooped out, ruffled backs. Tisci’s ruffles are a tour de force: sculpted peaks, they frame the throat or crenellate the sides of rectangular silhouettes. In common with just about everyone, he’s exploring volume and layers, and like them, he’s finding them a challenge. Some results, such as the blouson sleeveless jackets with slit armholes, layered over wispy skirts, on top of trousers looked like botched experiments. But doesn’t success comes when you dare to fail? LA
Verdict: Ruffalo Bill. 3/5
IN PICTURES: Paris Fashion Week: Givenchy spring/summer 2013

A new, softer silhouette; a new roll-top clutch bag called the Soft Trio; and some outrageous new mink-lined sandals – “furkenstocks” – plus mink-swathed heels that sent the tweeters into finger-whirring overdrive. Thick, entwined limbs of silk acted as fastenings for cloaklets and tops, while embracing the girls wearing them. Colour was kept to a minimum, for apart from those shoes, a gentle pink slip-dress and the odd linen beige were the only non-monochromes on show. The trousers were loose, long, and fluid – they looked comfortable – or forgivingly fitted and flared to end at the ankle. Frayed hems featured on the some of the few, often navel-deep V-necklined dresses on display, and pared down trench coats, too. Returning to work after the birth of her third child, Phoebe Philo presented a collection jam-packed with juicy innovation. LL
Verdict: A gentle leap forward for Céline’s celebrated aesthetic. 4/5

Chanel’s show featured 13 revolving turbines on a catwalk gridded with solar panels – was Karl Lagerfeld poised to join Livia Firth as a tub-thumper for sustainable fashion?
Oh no. Yes, the model in a double-C fronted swimming costume (shouldering an instant-classic extreme Chanel bag made of two hula-hoops and a semi-circle of that famous quilted leather) was global-warming ready, but the epic staging didn’t feel like a political statement: it was dramatic, not thematic. We saw those solar panels reflected in a sequin-glittered, strapless, above-the-knee dress. There were also grid-reliefs on oversized jackets. A bolero-high jacket teamed with a flared, just-above-the-knee skirt was this collection’s most consistent silhouette – girlish and fun. But the swollen chest, cinched waist, and swept-to-the-floor train of a mid-show section of black dresses had a Belle Epoque grandeur to them. One long white dress encircled at the waist by pearls with a split balloon back was beautiful, but easy to miss in the on-rush of more eye-catching pastel-rainbow boucle, mesh trousers or sheer dresses and trouser suits fringed with scraps of what looked like coloured taffeta. Lagerfeld generated more than enough fashion voltage in this one collection to power up the Chanel order-books for months to come. LL

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