Paris Fall 2013 Disappoints

Paris Fashion Week (PFW), usually the highlight of the fashion week calendar and the last to take place has been a damp squib. No, more than that, it has been a total disappointment. You know it’s a bad situation when, for once, Milan had more to pique interest and show innovation.

So what happened? Certainly the smaller designers had a lot to say and there we plenty of collections to enjoy. The problem is, Paris is host to the major Houses, those with the heritage, reputation and who have the calibre of designer to expect the absolute best.

It didn’t happen. Tom Ford was a disaster, Dior flopped, Chanel was bland, Oscar de la Renta sucked, Givenchy was terrible, Galliano, designed by Gaytten simply shouldn’t have showed (despite a good collection, the brand is over, palpably so). However the prime offenders were Yves Saint Laurent, sorry, Saint Laurent as it is now known, reference to the proponent of chic power women has been ruthlessly removed, and Alexander McQueen by Sarah Burton.

SL, it was terrible. Hedi Slimane assembled grunge part two, everything that existed in part one but without the beanie hats. Everything you can go buy from Topshop or All Saints. In fact, one stylist quipped the House ought to be renamed All Saint Laurent. There were apparently nods to Yves work in the nasty pink shaggy jackets (oh really?) but little else. Reviewers, those that have dared share an opinion lest they be banned from Simane’s next show, have been lukewarm. On the fashion forums they have been vicious. Rightly so. If I needed any further indication of how little Slimane regards women, especially confident and individual women, it was the troupe of leather and PVC bound models that took to the catwalk as a finale. Here was hooker heaven reformulated for Taylor Momsen. Nothing else.

McQueen. I really thought Sarah Burton was on an upper, yes she was slightly wedded to the same silhouette but the bee collection from Spring/Summer 2013 was good, it held within it complex and interesting ideas of hive behaviour, the complexity and geometry of honeycomb and the delicate nature of the bee. Ok, she still finished with pale frothy dolly dresses at the end but I forgave these as metaphorical flowers. The theatrical, absurd styling of this collection with its repetitive silhouette and laboured detailing felt more pastiche that innovative. Gone is the play with tailoring and knife-edge power that ran through the collections in favour of beyond-opulence madness. I used to be able to see myself in the clothes, no matter how challenging McQueen’s concept of the feminine was. Now I see nothing but a trace of that.

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