French Connection

Part one of our Paris Fashion Week hot list.
It's no longer just the masters making Paris the most anticipated RTW collections of the season. Alongside Galliano and Rykiel, a younger crop of designers are also holding court, turning out looks and trends that are turning just as many heads. If Monday night's Jeremy Scott spectacle at the Palais de Tokyo wasn't the picture of youth itself (muse Cory Kennedy sat front row, of course), then we don't know what is. And with the upcoming Jérôme Dreyfuss and April 77 store openings drawing just as much buzz as Givenchy, it seems there's room for everybody (except perhaps not inside the Balenciaga party at Le Baron). Here are the highlights of Paris Fashion Week so far.
Devastee—Macabre Comic Genius
There are two talents behind the label Devastee, Ophelie Klere and Francois Alary, who showed for the second time in Paris this week. Since its inception, the label has been afforded something of a cult status for fashion folk. When asked to describe how the label came to be, Alary says, "We met during high school, about ten years ago. At this time, we were not at all interested in fashion…but we were interested in cemeteries." And that's how the self-described "macabre comic genius" was born. The confetti-covered runway matched the models' confetti-covered hair, and the palette of red, white, black, and gray had an almost schoolgirl uniform feel. The real spark of the show was the outerwear, specifically a hooded coat that was layered to look almost as if it was two separate pieces layered one atop the other. And let's not forget about the invitations, which featured the delightfully eerie illustrations the label has become known for. (Saturday, February 23)
Bruno Pieters—On the Cuff
Harlequin neck-cuffs, soft and feminine men's suiting, and more of those two-layer coats we spotted at Devastee were just a few of the pieces on offer at Bruno Pieters. Seats were more valuable than a Bottega bag at the tiny Marais venue, which was packed to the gills with craning necks trying to get a good view of the clothes and maybe also of fellow-Belgian beauty Anouck Lepere, a close friend of the 29-year old designer. We loved the shots of pewter, waking up the discreet, almost somber mix of grays, blacks, and neutrals. (Sunday, February 24)
BLESS Nº 34—Eprfect Verything
Upon entering the warehouse space where BLESS No. 34 was held, attendees knew they were in for a surprise—two sports cars, one a multicolored display of neon and another fully wrapped in black fabric, were strategically placed at opposite ends of the venue. The open seating was a labyrinth of chairs, in between which the models rode bikes, played with electronic cars and games, or just strolled aimlessly to the beat of the music. The clothes varied from the avant-garde yet wearable to more artful pieces, such as a men's blazer with an oriental rug sewn on as a cape. But as always with Bless, it's more about the experience than what's going to make it into our closets. (Sunday, February 24)
Photos via
A.F. Vandevorst—Angels with Dirty Faces
A.F. Vandevorst attendees got their five seconds of fame at the Musée de Metallos on Sunday night, with over 14 video screens projecting images from every angle within the show, both front and backstage. The soundtrack featured an unhurried Sonic Youth Carpenters cover along with a little dose of the operatic. The models—angels with dirty faces—walked the runway with ink-smeared eyes, wearing the iconic button-down shirts that the husband-and-wife team is known for, super slim capes, and shiny, puffy parkas. Our favorite looks though featured oversized Fair Isle cardigans, cinched at the waist and completely irresistible. (Sunday, February 24)
Photos via
Gaspard Yurkievich—The Beautiful Fall
Gaspard Yurkievich's collection titled The Beautiful Fall drew its inspiration from Alicia Drake's book of the same name, evoking a 1970s Paris and the muses that inhabited it. The live music was as entertaining as the clothes themselves, with Sam Sparro and Dani Siciliano lending their voices to animate the runway display. The looks included Hermès-style silk scarf dresses, violet-fur jackets, and plenty of exposed zippers. The collection was more soft than tough, but there was a fine line between the two. The hats were a high point of the show, a successful collaboration between Yurkievich and Elvis Pompilio—they were a hybrid style that blended traditional borsalino with a classic cap, presented in black and chestnut felt and worn dashingly tipped to the side. (Monday, February 25)
Isabel Marant—Masculine/Feminine
There was no shortage of acclaim following Isabel Marant's Monday afternoon show. While there were also no surprises, the unanimous vote is that highly wearable, completely beautiful clothes are Marant's strong suit. As one editor put it, "literally every item that comes down the runway is something you want to snatch off the model," and we couldn't agree more. This season mixed a little American West, a little lumberjack, and a whole lot of pretty Parisienne. A red and white plaid flannel shirt was paired with super-thin leggings and high-heeled suede slouch boots, nicely balancing the scale of masculine vs. feminine. Also of note were the paperbag-waisted mini skirts and the numerous pairs of silky harem pants. Divine. (Monday, February 25)—Reported by CBM
Part one of our Paris Fashion Week hot list.

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