AW19 Fashion Weeks: Milan and Paris
The launch of Milan Fashion Week coincided with the sad news that one of the greatest designers of the 20th and 21st centuries had passed away. As Creative Director of one of the world’s biggest fashion houses, Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld’s loss was always going to be felt even more acutely at its show in Paris. Yet, at Fendi, as Creative Director since 1967, he had reinvented their fur line, leaving the house with a long-lasting legacy, which exhibited how this German designer could use his skills to create show stopping pieces for both glamorous Milan, as well as more serious Paris.
The show itself widely featured signature pieces introduced by Lagerfeld all those many moons ago. There were the stiff, high Edwardian collars and sharp tailoring with geometric seams, alongside the instantly recognisable double F logo, dubbed ‘Karligraphy’, and invented by Karl in 1981. When Lagerfeld was introduced to the five Fendi sisters in 1967 it would have been difficult to imagine that, 50 years later, this gentleman would become such an integral part of Fendi, a company that has remained relatively family focused since it was first launched in 1925.
Another designer who has well and truly put their stamp on a fashion house, and created their own version of fun escapism, is Jeremy Scott for Moschino. His Autumn / Winter 2019 show was a take on the traditional gameshow. Lots of big, big hair, dollar bills, and advertising products sold during the commercial break, such as toothpaste and household cleaners, were emblazoned on dresses. It was ironic, stating that shopping isn’t everything, but having a good laugh certainly is!
On a trend focus, exaggerated bows were high on the agenda, including at Fendi, as was the polka dot trend, reimagined in a translucent tulle at Alberta Ferretti. Pleated skirts and headwear showed no sign of abating, whilst capes, whether a poncho style or something more romantic, will add an easy element of layering to all our wardrobes.
As the Oscars commenced, so too did Paris Fashion Week. Always highly anticipated, as the main fashion city of the world, this Paris Fashion Week had special significance. For the first time, Karl Lagerfeld, Creative Director at Chanel for 36 years, was absent, following his sad passing on February 19. There had been much speculation about who would take over the esteemed fashion house. Lagerfeld once stipulated in an interview that he viewed Haider Ackermann as his successor, whereas more recently Phoebe Philo had been tipped. Instead, Lagerfeld’s right-hand woman and Chanel’s director of the creative studio, Virginie Viard, was announced as the new Creative Director.
Their Autumn / Winter 2019 show began with a minute’s silence in memory of Lagerfeld. And then the clothes began to flow down the catwalk. The Grand Palais was transformed into a mountain village with alpine chalets and lots of snow. One of the best things about Lagerfeld had always been his ability to reimagine this space into something fantastical, without overshadowing the brilliant design, but merely complementing it. Having showcased an abundance of eye-catching swimwear for their spring summer 2019 show, this season showcased wide-legged trouser suits and checked tweed coats, in classic monochrome, interspersed with brilliant shades of fuchsia and blue.
And finally, it closed with a standing ovation to David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’. Never one to be oversentimental, Karl Lagerfeld had told Suzy Menkes, “things start with me, they end with me. After that, the garbage can. I hate the idea of being heavily remembered”.
Inevitably, it will be interesting to see where the direction of Chanel goes over the next few seasons, but as a long-time associate and employee of Chanel, there’s little doubt that Viard will succeed in the eyes of the Chanel devotee. The same can’t be said of Celine, or rather Phoebe Philo’s tenure at Celine. Since Hedi Slimane was appointed Creative Director of the brand last year, there have been many complaints of close similarities to Saint Laurent, with nothing remaining of the modern Celine woman. However, for Autumn / Winter 2019, Slimane surprised everyone, and whilst the outfits weren’t Philo-esque (and why should they be?), he veered cleverly away from the rock-chick Saint Laurent look and into something far more Celine, pre-Philo Celine in fact.
Using the house archives, he updated 70’s classics. Stood before the audience were models in pleated, knee-length, country-checked skirts, silk blouses and printed logo scarves. All very much the antithesis of the Saint Laurent woman.
Off-White continued its show-stopping spectacle by introducing four ballgowns. Using well-known models Gigi and Bella Hadid, Karlie Kloss and Adut Akech, creative director Virgil Abloh made sure that these ballgowns were delivered onto the catwalk with scene stealing aplomb. And with plenty of social media coverage too, as the girls are well-known for sharing their own lives on the web, on a daily basis, generating thousands of retweets and regrams to boot.
Talk often leads to the subject of who managed to get which model to walk their show, but talk of the FROW threatened to overtake the fashion on display. At Tommy Hilfiger, for his collaboration with Zendaya, the ageless Grace Jones took to the catwalk to perform, as 58 black models ranging from 18 to 70 strutted their stuff.
Whilst at Stella McCartney, Oprah Winfrey was the star turn, with sustainability as the key message. Sat on the front row, Winfrey used her privileged position to spread the message of McCartney’s ‘There She Grows’ campaign, which strives to protect the Leuser Ecosystem, an area of tropical rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia. In dedicating a tree and a message to someone and then nominating someone else to do the same, funds are directed into Canopy, a non-profit organisation that protects endangered forests, and the Stella McCartney Cares Foundation, which aims to support aid efforts around the ecosystem. #thereshegrows
Imagery Courtesy of Vogue
About Our Author: Katie Calvert's background is in fashion and textiles with a first class honours degree in Fashion Communication and Promotion and experience in trend, PR and events. She decided to take the plunge back into education in 2015 to complete a Master of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Using these newfound skills and her love of fashion and culture, Katie has been freelance writing for over a year.