Paris Fashion Week: Stella McCartney avoids pitfalls of getting too tense

 

Paris

Sunday's Chloe show-notes referenced a “sweatshirt attitude” Which sounds like sound bite-y garbage, but somehow chimes true as we slide into the home stretch of the Parisian collections, and the close of the autumn/winter 2014 season as a whole. At this point, you don't want clothes that try hard, that push and pull and pinch. You want something comfortable, something cosy. You can even turn a blind eye to something a bit lazy, if it's well done.

Stella McCartney doesn't do fashion well. You get the feeling she isn't sure of her step. But she does understand ease: a slouchy sweater, a t-shirt dress, a flat shoe. Ease can easily become sloppy, or frumpy, but this season she kept the tension of her threads just right.

Tension. That's a good word to describe Hedi Slimane's Saint Laurent shows, where the audience awaits, seemingly endlessly, for him to deliver on the promise of his much-feted appointment. While the house's male wares, inspired by the London dive-bars, bands and boys Slimane so idolises, has riffed successfully on menswear's key notes, his womenswear consistently hits a bum note. How sad to compare and contrast with Raf Simons, whose path at Dior - while hardly easy or rose strewn - seems far less convoluted. Tortured, even. His path also seems to lead us somewhere new.

 

For this collection Slimane issued his audience with a pamphlet of work by John Baldessari, an artist whose pieces deal with found and appropriated images. That chimes with contemporary fashion's filching and cross-referencing. But it also means we don't see anything new.

Slimane offered a trio of "couture" dresses in a limited and numbered edition of ten. They were allegedly unique. However the majority of the show was composed of archetypal sixties-infused shifts, A-line coats, Mary Jane shoes and kinky boots.

They register well in two dimensions. Viewing them online, you get the Mod message immediately. As a merchandising exercise, they will prettily clutter up Saint Laurent's aggressively rebranded stores across the world. They were, out of context, inoffensive. However, in their context as a closing statement on the sixth day of the Paris collections - where the greatest designers in the world parade their wares - one word springs to mind. Lazy.

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