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Paris Fashion Week: A weekend with Galliano, Gisele and Kanye West

Amy Verner reports from the runways of Paris Fashion Week. Shows on Saturday and Sunday included the new spring/summer 2012 collections of Viktor & Rolf, Cacharel, Sonia Rykiel, Comme des Garçons, Jean Paul Gaultier, Kanye West, Céline, Issey Miyake, Hermès, John Galliano, Kenzo and Givenchy

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Indeed, on the one or two occasions I attempted to make dolls’ clothes as a girl, this is what my stitching looked like. Of course, in this case, the stitching is a cheeky, exaggerated detail that adds decorative focus and colour contrast.


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Giant design also took shape as this cutout pattern, an extreme close-up of a classic paisley. Question is, will these mutant curlicues make it to the red carpet?


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Cacharel Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection Already big this fall, pattern mixing – in some cases, clashing – continues through the spring. I wish I could offer some finite rules; the art happens when it’s less studied. But Cacharel, a label that excels in prints, is a great place to start.


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Ah, the gauzy, knicker-revealing skirt. For spring, the winning way to show a little leg is the suggestion of it from under a diaphanous dress.

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Sonia Rykiel Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection Like last season, fashion’s most famous redhead sat on the sidelines for her show, leaving design duties to daughter Nathalie Rykiel and newly appointed creative director April Crichton. Among other signatures, they have preserved the grande dame’s penchant for stripes, softening them and updating them here into a breezy sundress.


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Models sauntered down a yellow spray-painted road, er, runway – often in similarly hued ensembles. For direction of the sartorial kind, a solid black line appeared on pieces to varying widths and lengths.

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Comme des Garçons Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection Titled White Drama, designer Rei Kawakubo took carte blanche to new levels of wow with her achromatic collection.


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Before declaring this an exercise in weirdness, consider that many of the dresses hint at artful interpretations of spiritual and ceremonial occasions. Best of all, this floral cocoon creation has pockets!


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The extent to which most of it ends up in stores is a conversation for another time. But compared to some of the other headpieces, this one is totally wearable. Sort of.


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Jean Paul Gaultier Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection Jean Paul Gaultier is another designer who thrives on the performance element of a fashion show. This time, he pulled back the proverbial curtain so that the audience could watch the models getting dressed ... and undressed.

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Sans music, the show was narrated by Charlotte Le Bon, who offered up distracting tidbits about each model like a bachelorette auction. But deconstructed shirts, trenches and corsets were evidence that Gaultier has not lost his touch – and the tattoo stuff was proof that he still mines the street for chic.

Jacques Brinon/Jacques Brinon/AP

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Dw by Kanye West Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection This is what fashion looks like in the eyes of Kanye West, who launched his first collection to an intimate group of celebrity pals and editors on Saturday night.

Pascal Le Segretain/Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

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A front row fixture for years, West has clearly been eyeing more than the leggy models. I came face-to-face with him at the Azzedine Alaia show in June; evidently, the diminutive designer has returned the support.

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To borrow from a Yeezy song title, this is Devil in a New Dress. Translation: hot. Also in the mix: colour-blocked pants, white suiting and slinky things for partying in Paris. But West will have to do more next season to truly earn the hyphenate performer-designer.

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The other to-be-determined issue is whether retailers will carry the collection.

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Céline Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection Fashion editors are gaga over Céline. Few other labels are doing so much to push newness in silhouette while avoiding any overwrought design. Gentle peplums, sloped shoulders and wider pants, as seen here, will trickle down to high street in one diluted form or another.


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White and very right. There is nothing more to be said.

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How was it determined that these blocks of red should be these shapes? That’s just designer Phoebe Philo doing her thing.

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Issey Miyake Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection The biggest risk of a stunning hair statement is that it detracts from the clothes. This was the case at Issey Miyake, now designed by Yoshiyuki Miyamae.


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The collection was titled Bloom Skin and explored the many parts of a flower, from stem to blossom. The show notes emphasized the participation of local craftspeople and "made in Japan technology and ideas."


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Hermès Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection Christophe Lemaire has proven to be another white disciple; his approach, however, is entirely serene and reserved, with hemstitching providing the only flourish. Wear it to reflect ... but only in a five-star setting, of course.

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What would an Hermès ready-to-wear collection be without some of its iconic orange? Even better: orange on orange. Note the off-centre pleating, stitched H-diamond and smoothly defined lapels. Note also the purse, large enough for a mobile device and not much more.

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This silk print is from the Hermès archives and has been reintroduced as a soft day dress with leather accents.

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John Galliano Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection Yes, it looked like classic Galliano, but the collection (overseen by Bill Gaytten) lacked the designer’s brash spirit. Too much nice, not enough spice.


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And the proportions on this outfit are unfortunate. Imagine it on a non-model!

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Kenzo Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection Fortunately, there was much to celebrate over at Kenzo, where Humberto Leon and Carol Lim are now in charge of design. If you don’t know them from their other gig as founders of Opening Ceremony, you have some Googling to do.

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It’s fun to see a new spirit at Kenzo, which has ebbed and flowed in relevance since the mid-90s when Kenzo Takada sold the brand to LVMH. Electric colour combos plus nonchalant layering multiplied by city-slick silhouettes equals stuff the cool thirtysomethings will want to wear.


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Just wait, this pouffy strappy shoe (and it’s knockoff spawn) will be everywhere by April.


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Givenchy Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection Few designers can properly pull off such strategically placed sexiness. Designer Riccardo Tisci is one of them. Also, the layers of fabric appear so wondrously light.

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In contrast, there’s a lot happening here. The material is almost gill-like. So while it looks heavy for spring, you’ll notice it’s also breathable.

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One word: Gisele.

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