The Best of Paris Fashion Week

Fashion week always ends on a high note, not because it marks the end of four weeks, four cities and hundreds of shows and most editors are no longer compos mentis, but because the month-long catwalk season finishes in Paris, the city where the world's most beautiful clothes are seen on the runway.

Spring Summer 2016 was a particularly strong season for British designers in Paris, with Alexander McQueen, Chloé, Céline and Stella McCartney all showing formidable collections cementing their status as bonafide companies and designers amongst the world's fashion heavyweights.

The universe of Alexander McQueen is both light and dark

Alexander Mcqueen's SS16 presentation was exquisite, a veritable ode to the House's craftsmanship, paralleling extreme darkness and lightness. Designer Sarah Burton translated darkness in the embroidery, and light in sheer fabrics, delicate florals and all-over feminine delicacy. Silhouettes were mostly floorsweeping gowns, highlighted with ruffles or embroidered with dove motifs.

Another House that knows painstaking craftsmanship is Valentino, who this season moved from its homebase of inspiration in Rome to Africa. The same route, perhaps, that is taken by migrants. Designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli stated: “This is the time to see the integration of different cultures, to create new balances.” Africa was a particular focus, with columnar silhouettes featuring colourful patchworks, intricate bead embroideries and wild textures. Leather work added a tough edge, layered over printed dresses or cut in strips featuring studs.

The Best of Paris Fashion Week

Contemporary eccentricity at Dries van Noten

Antique brocades, jacquards and satin mixed with clashes of purple, yellow, blue, and watermelon, it was retro yet contemporary at Dries van Noten. No other designer can pull off eccentricity with his mix of sartorial silhouettes and vibrant prints.

Raf Simons at Dior went serene this season. Layer upon layer of sheers, scalloped undergarments in delicate cotton organdie came in cami knickers and matching chemise tops working as the foundation throughout the collection. These were worn beneath embroidered clouds of striped sheers and tailored jackets, which were awash with decisive pleats.

Céline proposes a traveling woman's wardrobe

Phoebe Philo at Céline was interested in a traveling woman's wardrobe. If you were to pack a suitcase for a year, what would you need and take? Philo proposed oversized checked trousers and lace-trimmed slips and utilitarian outerwear as staples. She explained back stage: "I'm very interested in understanding how different clothes make us feel, and I started to think about a slightly strange wardrobe. Those clothes for me are as if you were to go on a year-long voyage, you could just pack it all and use it in all the different places you might visit. The collection is a bit like the tent, which can be folded and packed up."

Stella McCartney has carved a niche for herself with her take on luxury sportswear. This season there were tablecloth checks and bright colours, with pleated layering and spliced polo dresses. The mood was relaxed and modern, and desirably wearable.

The Best of Paris Fashion Week

Alexander Wang took his final bow at Balenciaga

Alexander Wang took his final bow at Balenciaga, showing a collection entirely in ivory, invoking a purist and quiet exit. This was lingerie dressing at its most edgy and street with plenty of Balenciaga-esque detailing: Slips, bras and nightdresses came shirred, ribboned and ruched, juxtaposed with sporty nuances. It will be interesting to see how Demna Gvasalia of Vetements, Balenciaga's new Artistic Director, will take the reigns going forward.

Lanvin showed an incredible lineup of 70 looks, featuring everything from a plain white shirt and black trousers, to whimsical dresses, mannish tailoring, tweedy dresses and red carpet high fashion. Designer Alber Elbaz told Vogue that working last year on a museum exhibition about founder Jeanne Lanvin and subsequent displays of his own oeuvre, made him think about all the different ideas he has had previously, culminating in one of his most dynamic collections to date.

Louis Vuitton goes futuristic

At Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquière took his audience on a journey “where the only limit is the imagination”. The collection played on contrasts: masculine versus feminine, haute versus humble, retro versus futuristic. Studding, beading and metallic embroidery punctuated futuristic undertones, while 16th-century bubble skirts and high necks merged with languid jumpsuits and oversized bombers, seamlessly blending the old and new.

Images: Paris Fashion Week SS16