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Paris Fashion Week: The Ooh La La Edit

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As the editorial elite bid adieu to Paris, Fashion Week SS14 has officially come to a close. As can only be expected, Paris rounded things off in spectacular style with a wealth of dazzling shows from those cool-kids at Kenzo through to Marc Jacobs' final bow at Louis Vuitton.

The home of Haute Couture certainly delivered this season, with an array of breathtaking collections putting the Ooh in Ooh La La.

Without further ado, here is our edit of the most glorious collections from PFW... Best enjoyed with a box of Ladurée macaroons, of course.

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ART ATTACK
If the Paris shows are anything to go by, SS14 is all about embracing your inner artiste.

Karl Lagerfeld went beyond the conventions of Chanel with a vibrant line abundant in Pantone shades and pop-art detailing. In keeping with his vision, Lagerfled decorated the Grand Palais with his own artwork, created over the Summer in preparation for the show. The collection itself was extensive and expressive, with artful craftsmanship and powerful poster paint shades. Fashion and art have never been quite so entwined.

With such hype surrounding her work, the industry always puts great pressure on Phoebe Philo to deliver at Céline. Following Winters' curiously chic laundry checks and fluted skirts, you could be forgiven for expecting something a little more restrained this season. With Céline, though, you should know to expect the unexpected. Once again, Philo delivered a wholly unique collection, breaking new ground for the high end Parisian house in seeking inspiration from graffiti and global street culture.

A label plagued with controversy, this season it appears that the house of Galliano is back with a vengeance. Taking direction from Bill Gaytten, the Spring collection at Galliano has had the fashion crowd abuzz. Standout pieces include neoprene skater dresses in eye-popping shades, razor sharp suiting and futuristic visors by Stephen Jones. The collection is youthful and directional with a charming cartoon-ish palette.

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WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

Transporting audiences from the urban jungle to the rainforest canopy, this season's designers appear to have a bout of jungle fever.

Inspired by French artist Henri Rousseau, Christophe Lemaire's superlative Hermés collection offers an elegant take on jungle floral. Alongside fluid printed pieces, signature buttery leathers were interpreted in forest green, claret and sunset orange. The runway was transformed into a vibrant jungle, embracing the Hermés woman's adventurous side. A wild success, as far as we are concerned.

Moncler often pull out all the stops when it comes to setting, and this season is no exception. For SS14, Giambattista Valli turned his attention to urban Africa with a runway bedecked in vines and a soundtrack of roaring sirens. Naturally, such a powerful setting wills the designer to deliver something special, and Valli did just that with signature sleek pieces in luxurious fabrics and contemporary prints.

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FRONT ROW THEATRICS

Now for the main event: the front row theatrics.

No stranger to drama, Jean Paul Gaultier opted for a talent show themed performance. Models danced down the runway, showcasing Gaultier's eccentric attire as a panel of judges held up score cards. Witty frivolity at its finest, JPG always puts the fun in fashion week.

There really is no stopping Kenzo now, and with a dominant presence across the globe, this season designers Carol Lim and Humberto Leon chose to take a stand against overfishing. The aquatic influence was crytal clear, with the runway situated parallel to a column of circular fountains. The collection was full of creative, clever pieces with the melted fish motif sure to pick up where this season's evil eye left off.

The name on everyone's lips this PFW was Rick Owens. The American born designer is all about challenging convention, but there was no preparing for his Vicious Women show for SS14. Never before has a designer instructed his models to look as ugly as possible on the runway, but, given the success of the show, maybe more should. Ugly in theory, beautiful in practice, the collection was modeled by a dance troupe of women with the most incredible, strong bodies, each one bringing a new dimension to the neutral draped pieces.

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FUTURE CLASSICS

While on one hand you have the showmen, on the other you have the new icons, quietly confident in their own unique formula.

One such example is, of course, Isabel Marant. The queen of insouciant Parisian cool, Marant is very much the woman of the moment. This season Madame Marant went back to Bohemia, with lace miniskirts, gypsy blouses and gilded lace-up gladiators. The show was modern and sexy, brought up to date by lashings of leather and tailoring. Instantly recognisable and wholly covetable, this collection is sure to stand the test of time.

Alexander Wang's work at Balenciaga has been as criticised as it has praised. It must be noted, though, that Wang is still finding his footing: after all, he has some pretty big shoes to fill. For Spring/Summer, Wang brought a touch of edge to classic Balenciaga pieces, experimenting with innovative fabrics and textures for a minimal but modern look. With each collection, he is subtly reinventing the Parisian house, and this collection is full of promise.

For a girlish take on timeless tailoring, look to Carven, where signature two-piece suits were re-imagined in sugary organza.

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NEW OPULENCE

Paris wouldn't be Paris without a generous dosage of ooh-la luxury. This season designers took a global approach to glamour.

At Valentino, the ladylike collection was influenced by the opera, with multicultural references and intricate embroidery. The colour palette was notably darker than seasons hence, but the gilded and appliquéd dresses made up for a lack of pretty pretty pastels. It seems that Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli's success at Valentino shows no signs of slowing.

Dries Van Noten has long been an insider favourite, and this season the line is as 'wow' as it is wearable. Opening with burgundy dresses adorned in poppies and ending with a procession of baroque golden pieces, the collection feels truly fresh. Look out for those metallic ruffles on the front row come Fall fashion week. 

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MARC LEAVES HIS MARK

Following a decade at the helm of Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs has officially stepped down from his position at the Parisian powerhouse. Quite possibly the busiest man in fashion, Marc Jacobs is leaving LV to focus on his own eponymous brand. But what a way to go.

Jacobs is undoubtedly leaving on a high, his collection serving as a retrospective of his work at Vuitton to date. Showing in the dazzling Carrée of the Louvre, the setting was a mélange of Jacobs' finest moments, this time re-imagined  in funereal black.  

The models wore incredible black headdresses, each one a showgirl in this beautiful midnight carnival. 

Hats- or headdresses- off to Marc on this one, he will be missed.

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NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

Nostalgia to one side, it is time to focus on what's next for fashion in Paris.

Though London prides itself on emerging talent, Paris is not far behind, and this season there are a number of new names to note.

Dutch designer Ilja presented a collection of slick dresses, with the sateen charcoal minidress a particular highlight. Similarly directional was Hexa by Kuho, where sharp dresses were matched with sci-fi hair styling. 

The collection at Jacquemus was a little Alexander Wang, a little Simone Rocha and a little Lacoste with futuristic tennis skirts, pastel pink crop tops and crisp white plimsolls. 

Ooh la la indeed. 


Imagery and words by Shona Wallace on behalf of Serena Guen
Twitter: @SWfashion_

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