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Goodbyes and good buys: Paris Fashion Week highlights

The womenswear autumn-winter season finally comes to a halt on Tuesday, having rumbled through New York, London and Milan before ending in the French capital. Here are some of the highlights from the final set of shows in Paris.

– Vivienne and Paco, au revoir –

The fashion crowd said adieu to two titans of 20th century design. 

Vivienne Westwood’s widower Andreas Kronthaler presented something of a greatest hits collection, with new takes on her iconic pirate boots, corsets, petticoats and platform shoes.

“Maybe the most important thing you ever taught me was to put the woman on a pedestal,” he said in a poem accompanying the show, while Westwood’s granddaughter Cora Corre capped proceedings in an appropriately inappropriate wedding dress.

For the farewell to eccentric Spaniard Paco Rabanne, who died last month at 88, it was the clanging, tinkling sound of gold and silver dresses — a fitting memorial to the man behind the sci-fi “improbable dresses” of the 1960s.

– Balenciaga’s Humble-core –

When the hype bubble grows too large and bursts in your face, it’s time for a reset. 

Balenciaga’s Demna was in full contrition mode after disastrous ad campaigns last year that appeared to reference child abuse (unintentionally, he insists). 

No clever stagings or provocative $1,500 trash bags this time — just a clean white room and some elegant clothes. Call it “Humble-core”. 

Before the fall, it would have been “praised to high heaven”, said the New York Times, but in the circumstances it “seemed more like the march of the penitents”.

– Buyer’s delight –

For the buyers from Harrods, the highlights included Chloe, Rick Owens and Schiaparelli. 

It was Chloe designer Gabriela Hearst’s “strongest collection to date,” said the department store’s womenswear head Clemmie Harris, with “luxurious fabrics… in newer, cleaner shapes” and “instant must-haves” such as puffer capes and shearling vests.

Rick Owens consistently finds new twists on his dark, alien aesthetic — this time with dramatic capes and huge cocooning wraps. 

“While always true to his distinct and compelling vision he never fails to push the boundaries,” said Simon Longland, Harrods director of buying.

There was also praise for the first pret-a-porter catwalk show by Schiaparelli’s Daniel Roseberry: “An important step in the revival of the house… rich in detail fabrication and execution,” said Longland.

– Louis Vuitton eye-lights

The French brand’s hot streak was evident from the front row, which included film stars Zendaya, Alicia Vikander and Lea Seydoux, as well as hip-hop artist Pharrell Williams, its newly minted menswear designer.

The show was a mix of classic, elegant and inventive tailoring, but it was accessories like the light-up visors that grabbed the most attention.

– Pencilled in –

Last cool when it was encircling the legs of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, several labels seem to think it’s time to bring back the pencil…

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