AW18 PFW: The Round Up

“Whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant," said Honoré de Balzac, one of the greatest French writers of all time. With instantly recognisable architecture, exquisite cuisine and unprecedented chic style, Paris is the perfect location to finish an incredible month of fashion. The heart of romance with a timeless familiarity, we round up Paris Fashion Week AW18 with some of our favourite collections.

Using a colour pallet derived from the shades of minerals, Tamara Ralph designed yet another graceful collection for the Ralph & Russo AW18 Prêt-à-Porter show. As always, epitomising effortless elegance, Ralph explored contrasting textures in a perfect adaption for the modern women and the many aspects of her personality and lifestyle. Comprised of thirty-five stunning looks, the Australian designer examined plongé leather separates, multi-use biker jackets, and off-the-shoulder gowns; in addition to asymmetric knits and open fronted cascading bouquet skirts, which featured as key silhouettes. The day-into-night cashmere turtlenecks opposing oversized houndstooth outerwear, was one we all loved.

It was a fairytale setting for Olivier Rousteing’s vision at Balmain on Friday morning. With no detail going unmissed, the French designer turned Paris’ City Hall into a dazzling spectacle matching that of the garments themselves. Disco diva was at the heart of this high-energy early Eighties-themed collection that featured 90 sparkle-heavy peices. The front row tapped their feet to up an upbeat soundtrack including Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.” Further tying fashion and technology, the luxury brand launched it’s first ‘digital accessory’ via a Snapchat filter that gave a fluorescent sheen similar to the clothes that came down the runway. There was a lot of plastic, glitter and colour throughout the collection; think silvery jumpsuits, iridescent cellophane-like pants with a slouchy sequin sweater on top and micro-sequin pants with matching duster coats. Rousteing did not forget those who require the more understated approach with high-sheen pleated ball skirts worn with a jumper or striped sweaters, and a parachute-panted white jumpsuit over a black turtleneck that had the entire front row talking.

It’s no surprise that ethics were heavily considered at Stella McCartney; the English designer was socially responsible before it was even fashionable. With the show coming at a crucial time for the company - with whispers of Stella buying out Kering’s stake in the brand - values were still not forgotten. The invitation to the illustrious show came in a glossy pouch that read, “I am 100% compostable (and so are you!)”. Inside, a purposeful freebie; a pair of yellow socks made from 85% upcycled yarn using no water, chemicals, dyes or pesticides. McCartney described the show as a mindful and considered exploration of “what we stand for in this industry” which was reflected on the catwalk by a combined menswear and womenswear production with a focus on twisted tailoring. There were suit jackets inside-out with the silky linings on display and long flowing dresses for the ultimate ethereal aesthetic. Her strength in sportswear flourished, introducing a shorts-trouser hybrid; a hem at the front of the legs gave the impression that the model was wearing long matching shorts over the top. She found inspiration through deconstructed wedding dresses; paring many of her looks with lace and silk slips as well as bodices, pieced together in a patchwork of champagne and rose shades. How ever the business continues in the near future, McCartney will always remain ethical in her focus “until [she] is decomposing... like [her] invitation”, as quoted by Ms McCartney herself.

Always expect the unexpected at Hermès. Waiters suspended from cables and musical instruments carved out of vegetables were two of the previous weird and wonderful themes at the fashion house’s traditional celebratory annual party. It was all unforeseen this week in Paris too, as audiences attended an outdoor show (temperatures of 8 °C) surrounded by trees bathed in Hermès-orange light; the perfect backdrop for Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski’s opening sequence of sleek outfits in dark leather, completed with glinting hardware the brand is so well known for. A priceless diamond-studded Niloticus necklace was tossed over a peat-coloured ski jumper and paired with an appropriately coloured leather trouser which had us all in awe, however it was the classic pyramid-shaped Clou Médor stud that stole the show. The whole experience had a stealth yet extreme luxury feel to it, or what the show notes referred to as ‘whispered sophistication’. The Hermès women, however, had a sporty side too; think quilted calfskin hoodied coats, sheepskin aviator jackets, or sweeping blankets similar to those given to the cold but very satisfied audience.

It has to be said, there’s definitely a low key hype surrounding Western America in this years AW18 collections. From old-school work shirts to leather cowboy boots, the designers have not been holding back; and it didn’t stop at Isabel Marant’s AW18 collection on Thursday evening. Although the French designer stayed true to her roots, with a range that embodied a classical breezy Parisian lifestyle, it undeniably has a Western flair in every last detail. To a soundtrack that put her audience all in the mood, with hits such as Dolly Parton's "Jolene" and Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game," Brand-favourite Anna Ewers opened the show in a belted, camel-and-black-striped wool peacoat. Mid-length coats, big knitted sweaters and capes all came paired with westernised accessories to complete the look; think cap-toed cowboy boots and western-styled belts that accentuated waists or adorned jean loops. The show finished with a series of short party dresses to the sound of a delightful banjo melody with Gigi Hadid closing the show in a broad-shouldered sequined top, tucked into leather pants. What a yeehaa-worthy collection. Are you ready for a bit of cowboy in your wardrobe? After that, we most certainly are...

The Queen of hard and soft returned to Paris on Monday with a collection that showed Victorian romance with a gothic-like edge. Before the Alexander McQueen collection started, the audience knew they would be in for treat with each seat covered with a personalised Aran sweater. Although the Irish jumpers didn’t make it into Sarah Burton’s stunning collection they offered the shows attendees a much needed warm embrace. Instead, the British designer offered a dramatic, tailored line-up of suits, skirts, padded top caps and exquisitely crafted eveningwear. Blacks, red and stripes usually associated with the brand dominated the collection and were paired with fringe detailing, leather belts, butterfly-like patterns and bug beading. The show was full with fetishistic aspects; onyx leather bustiers, corset belts and braided hair styles inspired by the crack of a whip. Overall, a very ‘McQueen’ like show with powerful femininity at the core of Burton’s vision.

From waterfall backgrounds and models shopping for groceries to launching rockets on the runway, Karl Lagerfeld’s extravagant set designs are always a work of art. For the AW18 set, the German designer took the season quite literally. Transforming the Grand Palais into a lifelike forest complete with tall trees that lined the runway, the front row sat on benches in anticipation for the final day of the fashion month. Models paraded through piles of leaves in stunning ensembles that ranged from classic tweed 2-peices to ankle-length coats. The collection opened with jackets, some oversized, in shades of black and grey, paired with splashes of autumnal colour in the form of opera –length gloves and scarves. Black lace dresses paired with fingerless bright gloves closed the show and looked classic with a twist of edge, especially when donned by super-model Kaia Gerber. In between, the focus was on outerwear; think quilted Chanel puffers and full fur ensembles. The matching skirt suits, which the brand is so well known for, were again a massive hit. Accessories came in the likes of mismatched costume jewellery and patent pointed oxford shoes that completed a collection ideal for keeping warm on a woodland walk; albeit a very glamorous walk.

Whilst we can confidently say the AW18 fashion month is truly finished, we can’t say we have not been spoilt. From popcorn sets in New York to a royal meeting between the Queen of Fashion and The Queen of England in London, we congratulate our fantastic clients on such a breathtaking month of apparel.