This Week's Wow: #PFW Feels a Bit Like Speed Dating—Exhilarating But Overwhelming

Photo: AKM-GSI

In this weekly feature, InStyle’s Fashion News Director Eric Wilson shares his favorite fashion moment of the week, and explains how it could shape styles to come. Look for it on What’s Right Now every Friday.

The Moment: Paris Fashion Week often resembles designer speed dating, what with all the dashing between catwalks, showroom appointments, coffees, and cocktails over nine days. It really looked that way on Wednesday night when 30 up-and-coming designers from around the world were installed in closet-sized booths within an LVMH building on Avenue Montaigne. They were the semi-finalists for the first LVMH Prize, which includes a grant of 300,000 euros, auditioning in front of a jury of mega designers that includes Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, Raf Simons, Phoebe Philo, Riccardo Tisci, Nicolas Ghesquière, and Carol Lim and Humberto Leon from Kenzo.

So, it’s intimidating.

“I… just… met… Nicolas… Ghesquière,” said a visibly star-struck Erin Beatty, who designs Suno with Max Osterweis, just after the new Louis Vuitton designer visited their booth. (He was very chill.) Suno is among the American contingent of designer labels short-listed for the prize, along with Chris Gelinas of CG, Shayne Oliver of Hood by Air, and Shane Gabier and Chris Peters from Creatures of the Wind. The finalists will be named next week.

Meanwhile, the shows are off to a rousing start, with a strong influence of the 1960s appearing in the fall collections, most vividly in the Op-Art patterns that hypnotized at Dries Van Noten. His dresses and skirts were decorated with flowing rivers of silvery sequins and warped checkered motifs inspired by the paintings of Bridget Riley. Van Noten is also the subject of a fascinating exhibition that opens Saturday at Les Arts Décoratifs, imaginatively displaying many of his art-inspired collections from the last 30 years with paintings from Damien Hirst, Yves Klein, Elizabeth Peyton, and Francis Bacon. It’s not to be missed in you are in Paris before Aug. 31.

Why It’s a Wow: Between the big shows and parties, Paris is hard to beat. Alexander Wang’s knitwear centric collection for Balenciaga had people guessing what was a sweater and what was a latex coat imprinted to look like a sweater, and marveling over the construction of the sweater-topped evening looks, embellished with crystals all over the shoulders and morphing into satin beneath. After a bonanza of glittering dresses for spring, Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz surprised everyone with a darkly mysterious fall collection of inky fringed dresses and voluminous knits, looks that only he can make into something so seductive. And animal prints are having another moment in Paris, whether leopard spots at Guillaume Henry’s tour through 1940s fashion and Surrealism for Carven, or all kinds at Balmain, where Olivier Rousteing showed a safari’s worth of big-game looks, with strips of zebra stripes or cheetah spots woven into cinched jackets and skirts.

Pictured from L-R: Runway shows at Dries Van Noten, Balenciaga, Lanvin, and Balmain.

Things got even wilder on Thursday night after Balmain and Lanvin. Rihanna (pictured, above)—who had worn a gray wool peplum jacket with a fox bandeau scarf to the Lanvin show, looking very much the lady—joined Rousteing at his after-party at the Crazy Horse cabaret club. After midnight came a dance routine of topless women, one of them dancing as if she were a caged leopard, possibly a coincidence to the theme of the Balmain show, but fitting nevertheless. Rihanna then took off her jacket, too, revealing a black mesh top that left even less to the imagination.

Learn More: Check in on the competitors for the LVMH Prize before the finalists are announced next week and an ultimate winner is chosen in May. Or peruse the online site for the Dries Van Noten exhibition, “Inspirations,” at Les Arts Décoratifs (March 1 to Aug. 31).

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