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The wrong trousers – and other tales of the unexpected at Paris fashion week


A death knoll sounded in Paris – minimalism, the trend that made plain and simple the height of chic, is over. More is more ruled the Paris runways. Dries Van Noten’s Wednesday show was an assault on the senses – with an a capella soundtrack of pop’s power women; Kanye West and Jane Birkin on the front row, and a collection that, as a rule, piled several prints, colours, textures and fabrics on top of one another. Elsewhere, Olivier Rousteing’s Balmain collection had a rich-woman type of maximalism – with gold, shoulder pads, frills and vibrant colours centre stage – while Dior had thigh-length PVC boots, mega-long ponytails and cat’s eye makeup as standard. Hardly subtle but hard to ignore. LC

Dries Van Noten at Paris fashion week, AW15.

Big earrings

The single statement earring has been around for a while now, thanks to Nicolas Ghesquière’s debut collection for Louis Vuitton last year. For this season, designers decided they liked that so much, they’ll complete the pair – something to be cheered by those who have tried the one-earring thing only to be confronted with the slightly awks moment of people asking why they’re only wearing one earring. While Givenchy went extreme with added face jewellery, earrings you’d want to wear were massive in Paris – quite literally. At Balenciaga, most models wore sparkly earrings and ear cuffs to contrast with the ladylike clothes, Balmain models had enormous slices of minerals in their ears and, at Loewe, Jonathan Anderson’s mad-inventor collection extended to earrings that were fabulously mismatched. The message? Pat Butcher earrings are officially approved. LC

Balenciaga at Paris fashion week, AW15.


Tweed is hardly news in fashion. Chanel fashioned it into women’s clothes in the 20s, inspired by pieces worn by her lover the Duke of Westminster. But the cosiness of something so familiar – a proper old reliable – appealed this season, where, in general, clothes for real life prevailed. That’s firmly life in 2015, not anything retro, despite tweed’s long pedigree. See super-sharp coats at Balenciaga, work dresses at Stella McCartney and Roland Mouret, and a tweed skirt with a crisp business shirt at Dior. While the design in question was cut in strips from hip to knee – this is called a “car-wash skirt” in fashion speak – we’ll be appropriating this look but with a more office-appropriate coverage come autumn. LC

Diverse models

While calling catwalk diversity a trend sounds a bit trite, the model casting in Paris was undoubtedly a good thing. Vivienne Westwood mixed men and women on her catwalk, including 6ft 3in Game of Thrones actor Gwendoline Christie. Elsewhere, the first three models out at Balenciaga were black and Balmain’s Yves Saint Laurent-inspired collection was designed for, as mixed race creative director Oliver Rousteing said, “all the girls in the world”. This was reflected in the casting, which included more than 15 black and Asian models in a 55-look show. Issa Lish, a half-Mexican half-Japanese model with a bit of the Penelope Tree about her, was one of them. Expect to see more of her this year. LC

Issa Lish models Balmain at Paris fashion week, AW15.

Boudoir fabrics

It’s night-night to neoprene, bye-bye to breathable mesh, sayonara to scuba. All the high-tech, high-performance fabrics with which fashion has insisted on blinding us with science are headed to the back of the wardrobe. The buzzword of this Paris fashion week is sensuality, and the fabrics are lifted from the bedroom: pyjama-silk evening separates at Stella McCartney, camisole satins and pale eiderdown-quilt coats at Céline, soft, fringed blanket scarves at Hermès. And it’s not just the fabrications, it’s the way you will be wearing these clothes that lends them their bedroomy charm. Both Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo seized upon the word “undone” in their backstage soundbite. An exposed shoulder here, as if a bedsheet had slipped away; a waist cinched with just a dressing-gown style ribbon belt; rows of buttons left unfastened – next season’s “tattered glamour” (trademarked by P Philo) is about a behind-closed-doors intimacy, rather than about grunge. JCM

The difficult trouser

Autumn’s trousers come courtesy of the awkward squad. Anything goes, in trouser length – just so long as it’s not the practical, graze-the-top-of-the-shoe hem that makes a trouser a normal trouser. To be the right length, next season’s strides have to be the wrong length. At Givenchy, the too-short trousers were full of street-urchin attitude; at Stella McCartney, they were softened with fluting at the hem, but still looked tricky. They were most wearable at Hermès – not too flared, not too short and worn over tone-on-tone block heeled boots. As a directional evening option, the floorlength trouser – which has to be actually floorlength, an inch above is totally cheating – can be wide and fluid (see McCartney) or a precise, embroidered showpiece flare (see Giambattista Valli). Different looks, but both require the wearer to exude an effortless, gliding grace. Imagine yourself floating across a room like a Monet lily pad across a Giverny pond. Health and safety tip: avoid spike heels. JCM

Givenchy at Paris fashion week, AW15.

The ultra V-neck

Already wondering what to wear after the polo neck? Paris to the rescue. Fashion’s next move is towards the ultra-deep V-neck. This can – here’s the sweetener – be worn over those polonecks should you find it impossible to wean yourself off them. At Céline, loose-fitting one-piece jumpsuits – more like overalls with sleeves, really – came in oatmeal and deep sea-green, layered over contrast colour knits. The new neckline looks all kinds of awesome on its own, however. At Chloé, the ever-present 70s vibe was sharper, less doe-eyed-and-pouting this season, which translated into dresses and tunics with plunging, elegantly simple V-shapes. (Tip: do not spoil the effect with dangling peasant-blouse ties. And, most importantly, do not wear with squished-together cleavage, unless you want to look like you’ve been napping since the late 90s.) Credit where credit’s due: trend-sparking tips go here to Julianne Moore, who wore a blood-red Tom Ford gown with this neckline to the Baftas a month ago. JCM

Chloé at Paris fashion week, AW15.

The silly fur

Fluffy fake fur coats in patchworks of bright colours have been a street style hit for a few seasons, seen everywhere from Topshop to cult label Shrimps. Now the chic Paris catwalks are embracing “fun fur”, too, and presenting it in ever sillier ways, featuring garish colours and abstract shapes. The big news was Stella McCartney giving her blessing to fake fur, showing long-haired coats in ivory or black. There was real fur, too, at Christian Dior, where it was dipped into vulgar shades of mermaid-turquoise or henna-red, like a rebellious teenager trying out teenage hair dye, and at Céline, where a string of fluffy ivory fox pom-poms was slung over one shoulder, a gesture which, in its showy impracticality, poked fun at wearing fur and had nothing of the pampered decorum of the traditional fur coat. JCM

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