Diversity, dichotomy and divisive dressing – that’s what Paris Fashion Week is all about

Prints clashed on the Dries Van Noten catwalk, while Rochas’s pastels glittered

Paris

Opposites attract in Paris. Or at least they clash on the fashion week schedule. Dries Van Noten, Gareth Push and Marco Zanini’s Rochas make unlikely bedfellows.

They flung us far, physically (across rush-hour Paris) and ideologically, showing three completely opposing views of woman for spring/summer 2014.

That’s what the French fashion capital is about: diversity, dichotomy, divisive dressing. And traffic. Lots of traffic.

Marco Zanini’s Rochas has always been divisive, although the mood generally has moved from hate to love during his five-year tenure at the house. Rumours swirl that Zanini will shortly take up the vacant post of head designer at the house of Schiaparelli before the year is out, but if this collection was a dress-rehearsal, he played to the signatures he has established at Rochas.

Silhouettes were prim and proper, princess-line full-skirted dresses and duster coats pulled slightly off-kilter with a saccharine palate of plasteline pastels in iridescent fabrics. Many glittered with gemstones or lurex threads – Zanini called the collection “The Glass Menagerie” after the Tennessee Williams play, and there was the same sense of tremulous delicacy, lightness, fragility even and something askew.

The shoes – flat slippers or high-heeled mules appliquéd across the toes with ostrich fronds that scurried across the floor like tiny animals – were odd. Surreal even. A Schiap homage? She did a similar trick with goat-fur in the thirties. Zanini didn’t attempt anything quite so dark. Indeed, this was a sugary Cinderella fantasia, a sweet farewell.

An electric guitarist riffed his way, live, through Dries Van Noten’s show, in a warehouse on the outskirts of Paris. That all sounds terribly “edgy” – branché the French would say.

However, edgy isn’t really Dries’ deal. It’s the kind of clothes you imagine a moneyed librarian or geography teacher wearing, mildly cross-cultural; a little homespun.

The word that springs to mind is eclectic, not electric. And Van Noten spun out the kind of collection he does very well, filled with ethnic embroideries in hardy wool and clashes of print and texture. There were touches of opulence in gold lace and foliate embroideries reminiscent of Flemish masters – Dries is one too, in fact.

Prints clashed on the Dries Van Noten catwalk (Getty) Prints clashed on the Dries Van Noten catwalk (Getty)  

But crinkled linens and laces in faded ivory looked dusty, while garments reduced to crazed, corrugated whorls of pleats in lamé ended up dumpy.

British designer Gareth Pugh is the dark joker in the Paris fashion week pack. So imagine the surprise when he opened his show with an aquafresh mint column of bias silk, the model’s head topped with a lurid lilac busby of yet more feathers. Bar the dye job, this was nothing new from Pugh: the curvilinear shoulders, emphasised with external seaming in hard shiny leather or edged with strips of reflective tape, were lines we’ve seen from Pugh before, as were the shrugged-off kimono necks, the stiff cone-shaped coats and flared trousers.

Even those bias gowns have done service before. Here, you longed for something really fresh, rather than just a distracting jolt of colour.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk