French Connection

Part two of our Paris Fashion Week highlights. By CBM
As Paris Fashion Week drew to a close, we were left wondering if anything eclipsed one particular trend: the push for more. More shows, more volume, more androgyny, more drama, more contradictions, and more paparazzi capturing it all. While some designers are saying No! (Viktor & Rolf anyone?), others are pleased to get with the program, presenting collections that continued to keep us on our toes and put Paris Fashion Week at the top of its game. Perhaps the most surprising moment came at the very end when Marc Jacobs decided to start his collection for Louis Vuitton on time, leaving several editors out in the cold. Regardless, there were plenty of other runway moments not to be missed—here's our second list of the Paris stars that shined.
Kris Van Assche—An Affair to Remember
Kris Van Assche proved that there is delicacy in strength at his fall '08 women's presentation, which took place at a small art gallery on la rue Montmorency. It was a modest affair (complete with elegant cocktails and macaroons) consisting of just 26 looks that balanced the relationship between masculine and feminine, which is not a huge surprise coming from the lead designer of Dior Homme. Gray woolen suits (masculine) made sense with the oversized red flowers that were interwoven into the models upswept hair (feminine). Floor-length silky dresses with long simple pleats (feminine) had pockets and were paired with structured blazers (masculine). In the end, it delivered something van Assche is becoming known for: depicting the urban goddess made modern. (Monday, February 25)
Haider Ackermann—Layered Sensibility
Haider Ackermann's fall collection was a series of mostly monochromatic looks that blended a diversity of fabrics and textures. A layer of chiffon was worn over a pair of scrunched up leather pants and bits of plume poked out from beneath outerwear. We love the fitted blazers that feature a more subdued version of the Margiela-esque strong shoulders, as well as the artful use of draping that the designer has made a staple. (Thursday, February 28)
Rue du Mail—The Leap Year
After opening her somewhat hidden Paris boutique on the label's eponymous street this past November, to presenting its third collection on Leap Year (February 29), things are looking up for Martine Sitbon. The collection followed suit, quite literally, with the theme of protection and cocooning that is so relevant in a long list of other key Parisian shows. Rounded yet still linear shapes that were meant to resemble those of a beetle's shell, came in a set of shimmering murky colors such burgundy, eggplant, copper, and black. If the front row of A-list fans (Sofia Coppola, Emmanuelle Seigner, Lou Doillon, and Audrey Marnay, to name a few) is any indication, Sitbon has another shining year ahead. (Friday, February 29)
Commuun—Nature Nurture
Kaito Hori and Iku Furudate produced a mostly minimal affair at Commuun's fall '08 show on Saturday at Le Carrousel du Louvre. The satin button-down shirts paired with chiffon skirts in asymmetrical cuts were simple yet expertly hewn, not to mention ecologically sound. The models glided down the runway in black socks-as-shoes, bare legs, and cozy cardigans, which all felt very organic, save the futuristic silver lips. The duo said they were inspired by "the balance and tension in nature," which was visible via the warm, earthy palette. (Saturday, March 1) More on Commuun...
Martin Grant—Camelot Chic
With staunch supporter and American fashion icon Lee Radziwell taking a front-row seat at Saturday's Martin Grant show in Paris, we can't help but wonder if she was thinking what we were thinking: That the pretty and sophisticated dresses in a palette of tonal brights, ranging from fire-engine red to electric blue were exactly the kind of thing we could imagine on a modern-day Jackie O. The camel cashmere cape paired with black cigarette pants looked like an outfit snatched right from the former First Lady's closet, not to mention the range of simple satiny sheaths that will surely stand the test of time. (Saturday, March 1) More on Martin Grant...
Vanessa Bruno—La Feminine
The feminine favorite of true Parisiennes remains the sublime Vanessa Bruno. Her self-titled label has an almost poetic sensibility while still maintaining an edge that keeps her clients coming back for more. Showing at the 10 a.m. time-slot on the last day of Paris Fashion Week, weary-eyed attendees perked up upon entering the bright loft space located in the 11th arrondissement. The collection featured a good deal of satin, gray wool, and almost every skirt length imaginable, which yielded plenty of options to mix and match. Call it a cliché, but we still love the high-waisted trousers and pretty blouses. A perfect pairing, and oh so Parisienne chic. (Sunday, March 2)
Part two of our Paris Fashion Week highlights.

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