By the end of Fashion Month, I have viewed and written about so many collections that my brain becomes a sort of Dadaist tapestry of jumbled information and tangled silhouettes. When I close my eyes, I see collections swim behind my lids – the melee even invades my dreams. But I love the chaos; I thrive on it. Every season, I walk away from Fashion Month a better person for what I have learned and seen.
In particular, Paris Fashion Week provided two distinct narratives that really captured my attention. On one hand, there were clear signs at Elie Saab, Giambattista Valli, and Balmain that social media has had a tremendous effect on the industry, as the designers supported their youth-oriented collections by casting “It” girls like Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner in their shows (and naturally, these moments were Instagrammed to death). On the opposite end of the spectrum, some of the most legendary houses threaded a sympathetic, political message through their collections. Alexander McQueen and Valentino addressed the refugee crisis in both Syria and Africa, respectively, with presentations that openly called for tolerance and aid. I loved the disparity between the two messages – one of celebrity devotion and the other a tacit call for integrity – because they highlighted the extremes inherent in the industry. While some may cast fashion in a negative light by accusing it of being shallow and disaffected, there are plenty of examples to the contrary that prove its importance in shaping human interaction.
Beyond the contrasting stories at Paris Fashion Week, there were plenty of other shows that deserve a mention as well. I was quite taken with the incredible set and dainty scalloped underpinnings at Dior, the technicolor pixelated prints at Chanel, and the exquisitely tailored dresses at Roland Mouret. With so many wonderful shows to consider, it was next-to-impossible to trim my list down to the top five. This has certainly been a memorable season.
For insight into what I believe to be the best collections of Spring/Summer 2016 Paris Fashion Week, click through the gallery.
Photos: Courtesy of Getty Images and GoRunway
Sarah Burton’s signature aesthetic was softened for Spring/Summer 2016, with a tender-hearted collection that featured a much more wearable silhouette. Her muse was the Huguenot tribe of silk weavers who fled religious persecution in France and settled in Spitalfields, London where their expertise soon led to a revolution in British textile design. It drew parallel to the Syrian refugee crisis, with an emotional message that proved the benefit of cross-bred cultures, rendered on the most beautiful clothes imaginable.
I made a note to myself after reviewing the Céline presentation which said, “Buy everything from this collection.” A girl can dream, right? I love the strong women Phoebe Philo presents every season, especially since her women are not afraid to experiment. The best part of this collection was the juxtaposition between sensual, off-shoulder necklines and masculine, bulky shoulders (that were contrasted by tight ribbed panels at the waist). Philo’s muse was a woman packing for a year abroad, and the results were utilitarian but extremely refined.
I’m not a girly girl by any stretch of the imagination, but oh-my-God do I want to be a Chloé girl so bad. I have such a crush on Clare Waight Keller’s spring collection for Chloé, which bewitched me with its diaphanous movement, relaxed silhouette, and radiant color palette. Confidence is a key factor in looking good, and it’s easy to imagine how amazing one would feel wearing these beautiful, breezy clothes.
Jonathan Anderson’s eponymous label drives me a little crazy because his silhouettes tend to be so unflattering. If you want a chuckle, check out the front row’s perplexed faces as they watch his bizarre collection at London Fashion Week come down the runway. Yet, I adore Anderson for his work at Loewe which is tremendously alluring, and experimental in a way that appeals to my artistic sensibilities. This season, he went for maximal surfaces, etched with cracked glass and cellophane layers. It was all very cool and self-aware, but also extremely luxurious.
Maria Grazia Chiuri’s and Pierpaolo Piccioli’s “Out of Africa”-themed collection honored native craftsmanship in an emotional and moving way. The duo spoke openly about their work being a tribute to the African asylum seekers who made their way to Italy’s shores in search of safe harbor. The refugee influx has split the country, but Chiuri and Piccioli made a strong argument in favor of compassion, with textiles and embellishment that celebrated African cultural heritage.