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American Girls in Paris: Part Deux — French fashion week heralds a bold, confident hourglass look

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Balmain was also all about embellishment, where Olivier Rousteing took the staple sexy mini and covered it in Faberge style pearl and crystal embroidery. T Courtesy of Balmain
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The finale look at Carven combined two of the prevailing trends, in a waist-accentuated cobalt blue dress with an exaggerated, almost winged shoulder.  Courtesy of Carven
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In his collection, Andrew Gn addressed the power of a simple little black dress. Courtesy of Andrew Gn
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Quilted and padded classic coats shown in beautiful pink and green pastels were highlights of the Chloe show.   Courtesy of Chloe
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Bright red made an apperance at the Chloe show as well, in addition to more beautiful cream colored lace in the form of blouses and coats. Courtesy of Chloe
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Carven had some colorful looks. Courtesy of Carven
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Designer Guillaume Henry of Carven also featured short suits andwaist cinching skirts. Courtesy of Carven
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Balmain designer Balmain Olivier Rousteing featured kicky velvet pant suits. Courtesy of Balmain
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Peacock blue/green shades were a hallmark at Balmain. Courtesy of Balmain
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Chloe rust hued drop waist dress Courtesy of Chloe
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PARIS — As all first times come about, our initial experience at Paris fashion week was, even in such a chic setting, exhausting — but also a rewarding shock. We not only learned the ropes of fashion week in a European city overall, but a lesson in confidence for fall.

 Maybe it was the swanky setting, chic lunches or various celebrity sightings, but overall the shows in Paris proved to be much more interesting and exotic in comparison to New York.

 In over a dozen shows, we found that fall 2012/winter 2013 will bring a serious attitude adjustment and empowerment. Revealing what makes a woman her best among the feminine silhouettes of Andrew Gn and John Galliano to the girly playful colors in Chloé and the regal touch of velvet in Balmain, the looks inspire a bold modern female.

In viewing the collections, we learned that this confident and polished feeling is expressed through hourglass silhouettes composed of rich tones, pastels and highly embellished fabrics, with an exaggerated practicality.

Hourglass shapes

Hourglass-shaped looks dominate the female mused collections of GallianoCarven and Gn.

At Galliano, tailored riding coats with exaggerated capes and fitted waists reflect a rebel heroine, ornamented with contrasting hemlines and thigh adorning hosiery. Bill Gaytten’s muse for the collection was an “aristocratic heiress” at large on her estate, which was translated perfectly into the regal silhouettes and romantic, dramatic chiffons. Once again, black reigned on the runway, with touches of red, chartreuse, and the beautiful cobalt blue that made its way into many of the collections in Paris.

Guillaume Henry of Carven also brought a bit of the renaissance to the runway, including a matriarchal respect with Madonna and child print, among cheery stripes, paisley prints, and more chartreuse in the form of short suits, waist cinching skirts and playful frocks. The finale look combined two of the prevailing trends, in a waist-accentuated cobalt blue dress with an exaggerated, almost winged shoulder. Here we also saw the introduction of laser cut leathers, another dominant trend on the runways for fall.

Power play was in evidence within the feminine collections for fall, but it wasn’t until Gn and Agnès B that the power of a simple little black dress was perfectly addressed. Gn offered a modern mix to the little black dress in a waist cinching authoritative navy and black frock. The touch of navy that modernized what would otherwise be simply taken as a black dress alters it to an unforgettable piece.

Agnès B took a more comical approach, adding a small apron to an otherwise mundane LBD, emulating a French maid.   

Embellishment, lace & pastels

Isabel Marant brought a little – or a lot – of Texas to Paris with her interpretation of the powerful “Americana." Johnny Cash’s "Ring of Fire" resounded on the runway as top models stomped out in embroidered Western wear blouses, cropped suede and leather pants, and the new “it” boot for fall: An embellished stiletto known as the blackson boot.

Lacy and ruffled separates were done in black and white and gave the western look a feminine yet cool vibe. More laser-cut leather, bright red and cobalt blue made its way down the runway, where we also saw the introduction of soft pink hues on silk skirts, suede pants and blouses.

 As Texan girls at heart, the Isabel Marant collection was one of the most wearable that we viewed.

 As Texan girls at heart, this was one of the most wearable collections we viewed.

Balmain was also all about embellishment, where Olivier Rousteing took the staple sexy mini and covered it, along with velvet pant suits, in Faberge style pearl and crystal embroidery. The velvet was done in a beautiful peacock blue green, and the minis were shown in a soft pink and mint green pastel.

At Chloé, Clare Waight Keller stayed true to the brand’s basics with light pastels and simple yet well-constructed garments. The quilted and padded classic coats shown in beautiful pink and green pastels were highlights of the show, in addition to a gorgeous navy one shoulder jumpsuit and a simple rust hued drop waist dress. Bright red made an appearance at this show as well, in addition to more beautiful cream colored lace in the form of blouses coats and dresses.

Exaggerated practicality

Through the playful collections of Tsumori Chisato and Sonia Rykiel we learned that exaggerated practicality is a necessary piece. That which usually would be concealed within a garment in fear of ruining its aesthetic is actually made the emphasis of the ensemble. The fall 2012 woman wears her cozy warm outerwear with confidence, and adorns her ears in modern head gear via Rykiel and Chisato.

At Rykiel, simple wardrobe classics and staples were presented with an “offbeat twist," where each look was shown with black headbands. The same went for Japanese designer Chisato, where the collection was inspired by a holiday in Switzerland. Models traipsed out in more headgear, as if they were coming from, or ready to hit the slopes.

Maybe it was the swanky setting, chic lunches or various celebrity sightings, but overall the shows in Paris proved to be much more interesting and exotic in comparison to New York. The Parisian passion for fashion as a culture is palpable, and getting to be a part of it all was one of the more fabulous things we have gotten to do.

Together as writers and bloggers we share this same passion for fashion and look forward September. Stay tuned…

Lindley Arnoldy writes the fashion and style blog The Flip Side, and Annina Stefanelli writes the blog Cinched at the Waist

See the Isabel Marant Texas-themed show:

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