PARIS, France — As the sun set on the great glass ceiling of Paris' Grand Palais Monday, the eyes of the fashion crowd turned on one man: Saint Laurent's Hedi Slimane.
After the new designer's ready-to-wear debut in October received mixed reviews from critics, Slimane still had a lot to prove in this, only his second ready-to-wear show for the rebranded YSL.
Though the first Saint Laurent collection, with its kaftans and floppy Stetson hats, ended up selling well in shops, it divided people far and wide — trendy T-shirts were even spotted in New York featuring the logo: "Ain't Laurent without Yves."
On Monday night, as music from Californian band "Thee Oh Sees" was turned up at show, Slimane's collection — one of the most anticipated on the Paris fall-winter calendar — proved to be every bit as divisive as his first.
Some fashion editors shook their heads; others smiled.
Fall-winter saw Slimane move on from the Seventies boho of the spring to "California Grunge."
It was imagined as models stomping down the catwalk in leather miniskirts, oversize plaid shirts, biker jackets and baby doll dresses — with crystal-clad body stockings and combat boots.
They were mixed up haphazardly, and thrown together almost indifferently with an adolescent nihilism.
Slimane was trying intentionally to provoke — and his message of rebellion was loud and clear.
Apart from the odd jabot collar, and an archive "chubby" fur coat from the '70s, it seems that Slimane was trying hard to go to the opposite end of the style spectrum: an anti-YSL, grungy anti-fashion. And the looks were very young.
Fashion thrives on provocation — as house-founder Yves Saint Laurent, who put women in the then-controversial "Le Smoking," knew best of all.
But Monday's collection seemed to have trouble going beyond that great initial message, and somehow kept repeating itself in style and silhouette.
Like in October's show, here there were some highly saleable items such as a gray duffle coat, a black tuxedo jacket, and an oversized black sparkly sweater.
That point alone means that all's not lost.
Stella McCartney did some spring cleaning for fall-winter, replacing her old wardrobe standbys with a more textural and sculpted collection than usual.
With exaggerated lapels, it was the British tailoring staple — the dark pinstripe suit — that was reimagined.
But for McCartney, the most feminine of designers, the menswear allusions were only hinted at. The signature remained relaxed, with soft silhouettes and circular cuts in silk duchess and silk cloquet jacquard.
Vivid hues of fuchsia on oversize dresses and coats sported voluminous fronts which tipped for forward the balance of the silhouette.
The show began half an hour late. Hold-ups like that unusually annoy the fashion crowd, but not when the designer is waiting for her dad, Paul McCartney.
The former Beatle walked in tardily and was overheard saying "Walk, walk, walk like a model" as he swaggered theatrically to find his seat.
With hints of last season's sleekness, it-designer Giambattista Valli delivered a layered collection that revisited some of his signature furbelows.
Sanitized-looking white coats with pockets, studs and zippers — and sometimes fur collars for warmth — looked functional and highly wearable.
The same could be said of the many black looks such as a coat, double-breasted sleeveless top and waistcoat with hanging sides.
Great metallic bows, splashes of on-trend vermilion, and some great orange-red flower prints on silk did add some excitement, but the collection shown in Paris on Monday remained relatively mute — in line with the season in general.
Valli used this collection to launch his first handbag, the unsurprisingly titled "Valli bag" — a small, square-shaped accessory that hung off several of the models in croc and leather.
The press release heralded the bag as "iconic." It is sleek, but only in the fashion world can people call an object iconic that's been around only two minutes.
Maiyet is a breath of fresh air to Paris — with fashion week often criticized for being elitist or uncaring to the environment.
This house produces luxury ready-to-wear and accessories by employing indigenous artisans, which help local communities.
Maiyet's fall-winter 2013-14 show, inspired by a voyage through the Himalayas, featured some beautiful hand-woven silks from India, cashmere socks from Mongolia and jewelry, which included stud bracelets from Indonesia.
Some of the best looks came in red: such as one hand block printed tank top, and slim pleated pants.
Maiyet co-founder Paul van Zyl has an odd resume: he spent over 20 years working in human rights, including under Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa's Truth Commission.
He teamed up with Daniel Lubetzky, a pioneer in using business to promote peace, to found the brand.
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