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Paris Fashion Week: More Than Just the Kardashians

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

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Last, but certainly not least, in the bicontinental parade that is Fashion Month is good ol' Paris. The city's designer scene has had a lot of exciting shakeups in the last few seasons (Alexander Wang taking over at Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquière popping over to Louis Vuitton), and spring 2015 gives us the chance to watch them hit their strides.

There was plenty of new to look out for, too: Sonia Rykiel landed a fresh creative director (who came from Louis Vuitton under Marc Jacobs's reign and cast quite the It girl lineup), and Jonathan Anderson showed what he can do for Loewe. In celebrity news, baby North West made her front row debut.

Meanwhile, Riccardo Tisci got back to basics at Givenchy, and Jean Paul Gaultier showed his very last ready-to-wear collection in a pageant-style spectacle. All the news and the glorious fashions to behold in bite-size form await.

Loewe showed its first collection designed by Jonathan Anderson (his own line, J.W. Anderson, bows during London Fashion Week). He brings a blast of young, quirky, British perspective to the old-school luxury brand, which is rooted in leather goods and dates back to 1846. How did he pay homage to the Spanish company's bread and butter? Hides, lots of 'em. Thin leaves of suede bedecked dresses and boxy T-shirt shapes, while voluminous leather pants were slung low with the omnipresent obi belt we've seen from New York through London and Milan. There was a huge focus on bags, too. "More handbags, indeed, than have been seen on many a runway thus far," noted Vanessa Friedman over at the Times. "In this context the approach makes a certain amount of sense, the clothes acting as a background to, or breeding ground for, the accessories."

Alexander Wang called out the Tour de France as an inspiration point for his Balenciaga collection. Wang loves a good sports reference, this time working in ideas of performance-wear with scales of mesh ranging from fine (almost like eyelet) to oversized (bordering on latticework). To balance all of that texture, the color palette was clean and simple in black, white, nude, and dusty lavender. As for accessories, models donned lace-up sandals and mirrored sunnies secured with embellished croakies, and carried small, structured handbags upside down. This also marked the first fashion show for North West, who was accompanied by her celeb parents (much more on the Kardashian Kontingent in a bit).

It was back to the future at Dior: That's to say that Raf Simons took elements like dramatic skirt shapes and dress coats from the 18th century and threw them down the pipe of a '60s space voyage to create something totally now. Dramatically long vests, Bermuda shorts, and woven boots reminiscent of Nike Flyknits (not unlike what Alexander Wang riffed on in his namesake line for spring) were among key pieces.

Leather! Grommets! Lace! Givenchy went full-throttle bad girl, citing a pair of very retro influences: the middle ages and black and white computerized pinball games. Workmanship was borderline couture in the overtly sexy collection, a happy return to designer Riccardo Tisci's roots, after seasons of streetwear (all those sweatshirts!). "In the beginning, when I started, it was much more tough and sexy," he told Vogue. "I feel like women today tell me that's what's missing from the market." And so thigh-high boots in supple leather grazed the bottoms of short, short hemlines and were pulled over extra-skinny high-waisted trousers, topped with sheer, printed blouses. His good buddies KimYe were there, Nori and Kris in tow, as was Ciara.

Hedi Slimane seems stuck on glam rock at Saint Laurent. Platform sandals—some with red metallic stars, others with slithering silver snakes—were paired with semi-sheer black tights on a parade of girls (these definitely aren't "women") in plunging mini-dresses, patchwork jean skirts, and sheer blouses. Cherry print and dark-grounded florals peppered the dark, sparkly collection which was finished off with turbans and stunted top hats. Combine Kate Hudson in Almost Famous with Slash of Guns N' Roses, and stir.

Jean Paul Gaultier bid ready-to-wear adieu this season, intending to focus his efforts solely on haute couture from here on out. His final collection was shown faux competition-style, with categories like Miss Lucha Libre and Miss WAG duking it out for the title of Miss Jean Paul Gaultier 2015. The packed house included a ton of designer guests—Alber Elbaz, Gareth Pugh, Rick Owens, Jeremy Scott—in support of JPG. Aw.

Julie de Libran showed her first collection for Sonia Rykiel and it was chock full of big name models. The show opened with Georgia May Jagger, who was followed by big sister Lizzy and a lineup that included Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Joan Smalls, and Miranda Kerr. And the clothes? A cute homage to the houses's signature stripes in cream, red-orange, and navy played throughout, and hit all the trend checkpoints along the way (fringe, jumpsuits). The clothes look sellable as hell, and that isn't a dig.

The infallible Phoebe Philo let it bloom. Floral prints are pretty standard issue for spring, but not something Philo typically fux with at stark, minimal, precise Céline. The designer talked about being vulnerable and letting go in the creative process, saying "no" to very little.

Oh boy. Chanel. The long and short of it is that Karl Lagerfeld showed plenty suiting with a '70s vibe, and it ended in a march of nearly 90 models wielding picket signs with phrases like "Make Fashion Not War" lead by Gisele, megaphone in hand. There's commentary on feminism (suddenly upgraded/downgraded to buzzword status) in the mix here, easily diluted by the sheer concept of pricey, pricey clothes. BYO POV on the relationship between women's rights and personal appearance.

Nicolas Ghesquière showed his second collection for Louis Vuitton in the brand new Fondation Louis Vuitton, an art museum and cultural center designed by Frank Gehry, which will open to the public later this month. He spoke of "filling in the wardrobe" for his shmancy Vuitton shopper, which meant mini-dresses, glossy eel jackets, and crushed velvet jeans. There was a fun print loaded with nail polish bottles, eyelash curlers, cars, and little LV bag images—it'll a fun little game to watch this one filter down through all the fast fashion brands.

You were so good and patient. As a reward, here's an in-depth look at what the Kardashian Krew wore in Paris: Kim, Kanye, Kris, Kendall, and North, our American ambassadors.

· Milan Fashion Week Was Uncharacteristically Fun [Racked]
· The Quick and Dirty on London Fashion Week [Racked]
· This Was the Fashion Week Nobody Won [Racked]