High fashion is not always synonymous with the concept of inclusion but it was an interesting thread woven throughout fashion months penultimate day.
At Chanel, as promised on the 'Front Row Only'-entitled invitation, each attendee had their own front row seat on a runway that stretched for half a mile in precise, single-file rows. Though this was in keeping with the salon-style presentations couture houses did before modern catwalk shows, there was a sense of equality in removing the seating hierarchy.
The collection itself was predictably exquisite, heavy with house hallmarks; tweed suiting dominated the first half of the gargantuan collection (93 looks in total), with skirt suits offered in a rich spectrum of magenta, coral, fuschia, blush, into deep, sanguine red. Almost every exit was anchored with matching riding boots, topped off with matching boater hats with many look labouring under the weight of multiple strands of pearls. Moving into more neutral palette territory, eyelet detail decorated lush knitwear, blown out camellia prints blossomed over trousers and quilting reinforced pale pink hoodies and coats, trimmed in bold, black lines. With so much more magnificence to mention, it is a collection to study and drink in slowly, from the first fuschia look to the flouncy frills of the finale.
Over to Valentino, where the design duo Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri looked to the world of dance and ballet and in particular, the art movement 'Happening' as the starting point for their collection. With roots in performance art, the practise seeks to remove the boundary between the artist or artwork and its viewer, creating something of a level playing field for organic creativity. The collection included expressions of off-duty dancewear - tulle, leggings, accordion pleate skirts and second-skin polo necks - that developed into intricate, stage-worthy goddess gowns that, though weighed down with sequins, dotted with crystals or dripping in beaded fringe, appeared entirely weightless and ephemeral. Of particular note - the breathtaking feathered swan curling around a barely-there silk tissue of a gown.
Right in the middle of a day of fashion's finest, Australian Kym Ellery showed for the second time on-schedule in Paris, proving her place in prime position on the fashion calendar. Her inspiration was the deconstruction of the corset and how it might be accessible and wearable for a woman today - focussing on liberating the body as opposed to restricting it. Her signature blown-out silhouettes were carefully executed into dramatically wearable suiting, with a sense of romance and femininity alongside the avant-garde. Anyone who has worn one of her pieces is familiar with her expert cutting and this was not forgotten in her A/W '16 offering.
Rounding out the day was Kenzo's Sailor Moon-inspired collection - for the uninitiated, she is a Japanese manga schoolgirl with magical, evil-fighting powers and an inclination for sculptural piggy-tails. It was a kooky, well-travelled offering mashing up elements of Japanese Shinjuku style, Victorian dress, '80s flash/trash and rounded, oversized suiting. Hyper shine, huge ruffles and high collars on almost every look met with fluoro zebra print and random, sprouting fur. The result was Kawaii-quirky in classic Kenzo style.