Paris Stays Chic to the End at Fall Fashion Week


Style guru Susan Tabak has been a regular in the front row of the Paris fashion shows for the past seven years. Tabak, author of the book CHIC IN PARIS: Style Secrets and Best Addresses and a popular style blog, gives her take to Reuters on last week’s shows, edited by Rebecca Prusinowski:

The Pret-a-Porter Fall 2009 collections in Paris heralded chic design all week, albeit with increasing edge. Dramatic shoulder emphasis and the classic black and white palette were shown time and again, revealing themselves as key elements to Fall fashion this year.

Riccardo Tisci featured both in his show at Givenchy, with fur implants in shoulder pads and several variations of a one-shouldered dress. Stefano Pilati also incorporated these themes. He presented an ultra-chic and impeccably tailored collection for Yves Saint Laurent with crisp white shirts and pencil skirts, lots of black leather and very sleek jackets.  It was classic, with a twist.  I could definitely see myself wearing the collection.

The same goes for Akris.  Marked by trapezoids, geometric design, and — yes — accentuated shoulders, Akris designer Albert Kriemler’s architectural inspiration was evident in nearly every piece. Though the clothing is different from Alber Elbaz’s collection for Lanvin, both Elbaz and he have a great sense for what the chic modern woman wants and needs in her clothing.

Finally, Chanel used black and white, as always, but added exaggerated white frills, plissé ruffs, chiffon camellias, accordion pleats, boutonnières and floppy bows on the cuffs and collars of the blouses.

Sonia Rykiel held a quirky and charming show at her Boulevard Saint-Germain boutique, and I was a big fan of Giambattista Valli’s regal yet understated designs. Among all the collections these past few days, however, Elie Saab and Galliano may be the most memorable.

Elie Saab lacked the hard edge prevalent this season, making it stand out by comparison. I’ve come to expect a bit of glitz from this label, but it was all about subdued beauty last Tuesday. There were no bells and whistles, so to speak.  The appeal lay in the graphic cuts and sculpture of the clothing. The silhouettes were extraordinary, from the sheath dresses he led with to the evening wear at the end. Bucking the black and white trend, Saab chose hues like cream glazed chestnut, powder grey, dusty blue and celadon green instead.

Then there is John Galliano.  With his own label, Galliano doesn’t have the responsibility of carrying forth the legacy of Dior, so he’s free to channel his extreme flamboyant creativity. And this is exactly what he did. Wow.  The designer showed a fantastical collection heavy on Russian folklore. Looking back, I should have guessed he had something up his sleeve! We had to wait over an hour to get into the show, causing some jostling and unrest among photographers. When we were finally granted entrance, guests were served vodka on the way into the ice-cold Halle Freyssinet. The temperature and theatrical display began to make sense as the models came down the runway with glittering snow falling around them. It was like a magical winter wonderland with spectacular clothing to match. There were peasant blouses, embroidered full skirts, headdresses, and absolutely sensational coats. I can not overemphasize the exquisite detailing and craftsmanship of the collection as a whole. It was incredible. Here was the signature Galliano flair that I was missing at the Dior show.

Capping a week of fashion festivities was Karl Lagerfeld’s Fendi party at the V.I.P. Room on Rue de Rivoli.  And this was a grand finale. The venue was packed with fashion elite eagerly awaiting a performance by Beth Ditto and her group, The Gossip. It was crazy! The whole place was super-into it, myself included. My look is obviously different from Beth’s, but at the core of my blog and my book CHIC IN PARIS is discovering your own sense of style and celebrating it. This is exactly what Beth did and it was awesome.