The highlights and lowlights of Paris Fashion Week SS20

The Spring Summer 2020 Paris catwalk season has come to a full stop. It began last Monday with Mame Kurogouchi and ended with Louis Vuitton 8 days later on Tuesday evening. A key takeaway from the Paris shows sees brands making outward commitments to sustainability as the echoes of climate change loudly reveberate through the insular walls of the fashion industry.

At Dior, an inclusive garden translated into a magical forest of trees, which creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri collaborated on with Coloco, a Paris-based environmental design collective. The purpose was to re-plant the trees across Paris after the show as part of its regeneration projects. Back when Raf Simons launched his first collection at the same house in 2012, a million flowers were used for a bounteous floral backdrop, though at the time there was no communication from the house of Dior as to the fate of the blooms. In 2019 it is no longer acceptable to plunder nature for the eyes of fashion’s tastemakers.

The highlights and lowlights of Paris Fashion Week SS20
The highlights and lowlights of Paris Fashion Week SS20
Photo courtesy of Dior

Chiuri’s presentation received mixed reviews, with some editors enthusing it was “utterly lovely,” and others labeling it “product-driven” and “dull.” The floral printed dresses, many of which were appliquéd, printed or embroidered, were an exquisite ode to nature.

The highlights and lowlights of Paris Fashion Week SS20
Photo: Stella McCartney SS20, Catwalkpictures

Sustainable catwalk season

Stella McCartney has quietly grown into a veteran of ethical fashion, which this season evolved into her most eco-friendly collection to date with 75 percent of used materials being sustainable. McCartney said 90 percent of all of the cotton used is organic, as was 100 percent of the denim. Accessories were made with hemp and sustainable raffia. Just exactly how the jeans were sustainably treated to create an acid-wash look was not clear, as denim washing is one of the least ethical production practises.

The highlights and lowlights of Paris Fashion Week SS20
Photo: Dries Van Noten SS20, Catwalkpictures

Dries van Noten x Christian Lacroix

Floral jacquards, garments woven on antique looms and sumptuous colour juxtapositions brought magic to Paris fashion week in the most intriguing collaboration of masterminds the industry has seen of late. Rising far above the High Street Giant x Luxury Designer collaboration, this was an exquisite partnership from the first exit of a belted jacket and feathered hair piece, to the ostrich frays on the bridal cape of the last look.

Describing the partnership, Mr van Noten said in a statement: "The plot was hatched naturally and at the very start of the season, I found myself needing exuberance, opulence, another volume and fun!. I was constantly drawn to the Eighties and Nineties, to a love of dressing up, to couture, to beauty, to audacity - to joy. I quickly realised that all roads seemed to lead to the work and world - of Mr. Christian Lacroix. So, after little deliberation, I thought why not just phone him, why not phone Christian and ask if he would be up for the challenge and enjoy working with me on a collection. I was so happy when he immediately said: yes.”

The highlights and lowlights of Paris Fashion Week SS20
The highlights and lowlights of Paris Fashion Week SS20
Photo: Dries Van Noten SS20, Catwalkpictures

Balenciaga

The core codes of Demna Gvasalia’s Balenciaga were cemented ever since he took the creative reigns of the Kering-owned fashion house. They haven’t shifted much since. This season, however, saw movement in proportion and offered a more elevated version of Gvasalia’s streetwear. That meant nuance in oversizing but also architectural prowess as seen in the gowns shown near the end of the show.

Held assembly-style in a painted blue auditorium of the United Nations, the cast of characters on the catwalk were more believable, even if the outerwear pieces were larger than life with model’s heads barely peeking through.

The highlights and lowlights of Paris Fashion Week SS20
The highlights and lowlights of Paris Fashion Week SS20
Photo: Balenciaga

Chanel

Speaking of sustainability, it is nul points for Chanel when it comes to its elaborate show productions. Since the passing of Karl Lagerfeld, who re-created everything from a beach replete with tonnes of sand to entire cities, Chanel's new creative director, Virginie Viard, has continued in the same lane, opting for maximalist sets, this season building rooftops reminiscent of 1960s Paris.

On show were the usual Chanel-isms from bouclé-everything to pearls to Parissienne jackets and two-tone heels. The newness came in the form of shorts and bermudas, a move toward a younger and cooler customer perhaps.

The highlights and lowlights of Paris Fashion Week SS20
Photo: Christophe Archambault / AFP

This was Viard’s first ready-to-wear collection after her haute couture debut in July. While it was neither ground-breaking nor copy-paste Lagerfeld, Ms Viard needs to find her footing and bring in her own codes. A dash of excitement came during the finale, when a French comedian known as Marie S’Infiltre infiltrated the lineup for the final loop.

Main photo Chanel SS20, Catwalkpictures