We Love Paris in the Springtime!

Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2016

Paris Fashion Week saw three gifted designers from the Swarovski Collective—Christian Wijnants, Esteban Cortázar and Iris Van Herpen—unveil spectacular Spring/Summer 2016 collections that pushed the boundaries of skill and showmanship with ingenious embellishment using Swarovski crystals. In addition to the excitement these three brought to the Paris shows, Hussein Chalayan and Olympia Le-Tan also thrilled audiences with catwalk collections intricately patterned with crystals provided by Swarovski.

Christian Wijnants 
Another Paris Fashion Week star riding on the success of opening his first store, this time in Antwerp, Belgian designer Christian Wijnants presented an easy, breezy collection that he described as “a subtle, pure look that lifts the tone-on-tone palette.” There were cleverly deconstructed skirts made from layered fabrics in white, zingy yellow and orange, softened by carefully frayed edges. Some of the dresses featured black pin stripes picked out with individually placed hotfix crystals, while others had patches made to look like random stains, created using a mix of shiny and opaline hot fix and sew-on stones. “It’s about experimenting with new things and exploring how you can create your own interpretation of a technique.” 

Esteban Cortázar
Every designer knows that key feedback comes at the end of the show when the models either plead/don’t plead to take home something they’ve worn on the catwalk. This season Cortázar hit gold with his extraordinary ‘flatform’ footwear: Sandals and peep-toe booties entirely encrusted with jagged icicle-like crystals, either multi-colored or jet back, gave serious drama to the collection of jackets and skirts in exotic animal prints, metallics, and pared-back black-and-white looks. “The crystals gave a kind of galactic feel to the whole collection—an otherworldly vibe that I thought was really cool. The girls all wanted to steal the shoes at the end of the show, so that’s a good sign!” 

Iris Van Herpen 
The ever-innovative, boundary-pushing Van Herpen showed off her supreme skill by creating an ultra-modern collection that felt part sci-fi and part disco queen. Coordinating halter-necked crop tops and miniskirts in simple silhouettes were made from astonishing fabrics that recalled the intricate art of paper engineering, or even origami. Precise, all-over patterns created using 3D-effect shapes inlaid with crystals gave garments a strikingly unusual, futuristic feel. “Texture and shape are the main focus, with three-dimensionality a fairly important part of that. This season I really used the stones to accentuate the structure and the texture of the garment”. 

Olympia Le-Tan 
Something of a cult success, Olympia Le-Tan is all about covetable whimsy and wit, and her collections harbor a sweet joie de vivre that’s hard to resist. For her Spring/Summer 2016 runway show, the Le-Tan woman exhibited a touch of Japanese cool: a day dress was made from fabric printed with a geisha pattern, while another silver polka-dot outfit included a waistline reminiscent of the Japanese obi, featuring a large red bow motif outlined with crystals. The bow was reprised alongside crystal embroideries on an elaborate blouse worn with a khaki high-waist pantsuit. “The crystals allowed me to make the clothes sparkle a lot,” she explained. “There’s one dress completely covered in Swarovski crystals to create a Japanese pattern in dark indigo. We also made a bustier with geometric shapes, and there are really simple belts that you put on a yukata (light cotton kimono), except they’re covered in Swarovski crystals.” 

Hussein Chalayan 
On a high from opening his first store in London’s Mayfair, Chalayan staged a show that fully justified his reputation as one of fashion’s masterful magicians, and marked a decade of collaborations with Swarovski. Along with floaty, whimsically printed day outfits touched with subtle crystal detailing, he also stood models under showers of water, causing what proved to be their soluble top layer of utilitarian white coats to literally disintegrate, revealing incredible white evening dresses underneath that shimmered with rich crystal embroideries and appliqués. He described the process of designing inspired clothing as “creating stories”: “It’s been very important from the beginning to try new ideas that haven’t been done before. The moments in a show where there’s a showpiece and something happens to it—I don’t do it for the sake of it: there’s always a story behind it, and it really links to the rest of the collection”.