Paris Fashion Week: Stella McCartney flatlines while Hedi Slimane drapes YSL in arrogance

 

Cara Delevingne on the runway for Stella McCartney
Cara Delevingne on the runway for Stella McCartney

The Paris Fashion Week schedule sometimes feels like it is set in stone – almost Biblical in its authority. On the seventh day, season in and season out, we see Stella McCartney and Hedi Slimane of Saint Laurent. God got to rest. Fashion journos have no such luck.

Those two superstar designers show ten hours apart, but they're a world away in concept. Stella McCartney is about wearability. There's a reality to what she does - it's resolutely down-to-earth. It feels a shame that she invites Sir Paul Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft (aka Dad) to sit front row. He always seems to generate more press comment than the clothes.

Dad versus duds is a debate that has plagued McCartney's career. Naysayers should be silenced: her label is 12 years old. It's highly implausible that anyone would keep chucking cash down the catwalk if it wasn't raking something in bar press. The issue with McCartney is that her clothing is quiet, occasionally dull, often mumsy (she's a mother herself, so that's a fair point). The crocodile-motif silk bonded to organza and bubbly silhouettes with their hip-emphasis weren't the easiest to wear, but neither did they get your sartorial pulse racing.

The rest of McCartney's show was a bit of a flat-liner. The fabrics looked soft and luxurious, the silhouettes frequently elegant. Too much was oversized and lace evening wear hit a bum note. Less filmy tea-dress, more ruched tea-shop curtain. Maybe it was an attempt to be "fashion". McCartney shouldn't bother, she's better off making great clothes.

Hedi Slimane is a different superstar to Stella, although there's a reality to his clothes too - the reality being the girls and boys Slimane sees in Los Angeles, his adoptive hometown. That's rankled the fashion press - many griped that his last womenswear show smacked of car boot chic, however much press officers tried to couch it in the "codes" of the house.

For spring, however, the link between Yves and the house that bears two thirds of his name was obvious. To say the least. Saint Laurent's Le Smoking, asymmetric cocktail dresses, leopard print, sheer blouse and blouson noir all reappeared. The show notes credited the artwork - including a lips print from the 1971 "Vichy Chic" collection - to the Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent. Slimane took credit for set and styling.

And the clothes? Their credit remained hazy. Ironic, really, as that was the reason we were all crammed into an airless black box around the back of the Grand Palais. Their merit is hazier still.

There was a breathtaking arrogance to this show, to Slimane's frenzied romp through the archive. Especially as, bar butchering skirts to crotch length, the vintage garments were virtually unchanged.

If the collection was homage, it fell into pastiche, a parody of Saint Laurent archive rehashing that called to mind a charity shop trawl rather than a fashion show. That's down to the styling, teaming echoes of the enviable archive of one of the world's greatest fashion houses with tat like lurex bobby-socks and lamé dance shoes. Slimane was quick to take credit, so he should shoulder the blame

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