Sartorial lessons from Paris Fashion Week

The haute couture Spring/Summer 2018 collections at Paris Fashion Week were like a good page-turner: at once a little bit shocking and deliciously romantic, says fashion writer Helen Clemson.

Some say she has superb style, others disagree. For the royal tour of Norway and Sweden at the beginning of the year, the Duchess of Cambridge was a little risky with her sartorial choices. A lover of Erdem, Catherine (or her stylist?) chose a gold high-neck gown adorned with a busy floral print. It was, er, a bold choice – and one that went rather well with the colour of the sofa at the residence of the British ambassador.

If you’re into fashion like I am, you may well wonder why another frock wasn’t the pick of the day. Something less matronly, perhaps? Even though Erdem’s palette choice for this particular gown was vivid, a high neck complete with frill detail didn’t do Catherine justice.

Erdem Moralioğlu takes on the classic black number

At his Spring/Summer Paris Fashion Week show, designer Erdem Moralioğlu created beautiful pieces that were much softer in look and cut. While sticking to the DNA of the house known for vibrant prints and detailed craftsmanship, Moralioğlu also showcased floral gowns in arresting sea-greens as well as classic black numbers with sprays of delicate flowers and ferns. While these sheath-like gowns (flared elegantly as they taper to the ground) would have needed to be altered to accommodate the expectant duchess, she would have done better to wear one of them.

What else could the Duchess have worn, seeing that Paris Fashion Week ended days before she left for Scandi shores?

All in the details

The gorgeous embroidery from Zuhair Murad, whose show was titled ‘Indian Summer’, give many of his black-against-blush gowns a graphic and geometric feel, showing off intricate lattice work in wonderful detail. Ten years ago, while in Dubai, I bought a Zuhair Murad cream lace crossover blouse and the distinctiveness of his
use of romantic lace is still very much alive and kicking.

In keeping with the season’s love of florals – this is a trend that won’t go away – red flowers and even desert vegetation were embroidered masterfully onto sweeping feminine and delicate dresses made from organdie and chiffon, either in subtly sheer or in precious hues.

The new power suit

For lovers of investment suits, there’s no greater master than Armani. The house has always been about mix-and-match. This season, Armani Privé showed nipped-in waistlines for their blazers, with watercolour blouses underneath, worn with silk pants in pastel hues. The whole look was serenely moody, like Impressionist art translated onto fluid fabric that moves with the wearer. Yes, there was the traditional Armani pinstripe (the best Italian designers rarely stray too far from their heritage) but, considering the print had been made into a chic playsuit, this particular piece is certainly just for fun.

Artistic inspiration with Christian Dior

More fun was had with a bold ‘dice’ coat by Christian Dior (pictured). Maria Grazia Chiuri, creative director at Dior, is said to have traced the history of the couturier behind this famed design house. Mr Dior used to love surrounding himself with artists like Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dalí, Elsa Schiaparelli and Leonor Fini. The latter, in particular, is the one who set the tone for the Spring/Summer couture collection.

Words by Helen Clemson.

This article originally appeared in Issue 39 0f Private Edition.

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