by Alex Fury .

Paris Fashion Week: Or should that be 'weak'

We're halfway through the week here in Paris - when a week started to consist of nine days I'm not entirely sure - and I'm about to head off to my next show which is Jean-Paul Gaultier up in his former dance-hall HQ in the Marais.

It's always a pity the Paris Collections are so hectic, because there's always much too much to write about. Paris is the capital of international fashion, I'm accepting no argument on that front. That's why I'm about to leave to see a French designer's latest collection, after visiting the hottest designers London has to offer, and have just received invites from a Brit (Phoebe Philo) and an American (Marc Jacobs) for their shows later this week.

It's been a strong showing thusfar - especially from quintessentially Parisian houses. I loved both the Rochas and Nina Ricci collections. They seemed to be speaking one language - French - and they both looked like the biggest pile of chic I've ever seen. That chicness is a major message here: even Rick Owens is doing it, in a collection that harked back to one of the greatest of all couturiers, the Anglo-American Charles James. If you haven't seen his down-stuffed evening jacket, log onto the Victoria and Albert museum's website and marvel at its sculptural twists and turns. Then hot-foot it over to Owens come winter and purchase your own, equally stunning, version.

Today's Haider Ackermann show was wonderful - and it may seem odd to link him with Owens, but both these designers have a vision of how people should look for the future. It's a vision tinged with the past - this season Owens alighted on fifties couture, but Ackermann's was a more complex idea. There was an air of Edwardian refinement to his clothing, and the colours were utterly divine. That seems to be something I'm espousing on every possible medium, but they were just that good. Rumour is that was his last show under his own label. If so, he's going out with one hell of a bang. The standing ovation he received - twice in a single show, I might add - felt entirely justified. It was a fashion moment you wished wouldn't end.

The Maison Martin Margiela show, by contrast, felt never-ending. They were a victim of the rammed Parisian schedule, rammed in next to Lanvin, which caused a few editors to skip (the show, not with joy). The reason why? One stated, plainly 'It's not Margiela anymore'. That was the issue with this Maison Martin Margiela show: it seemed to be trying very, very hard to be a Maison Martin Margiela show. So hard, in fact, that it became the sole concept of the show, from the model's bed-head hairdos to the jingle-jangle of random metal object slung around their extremities as avant-garde jewellery. The clothes themselves caused no excitement, but as far as felted-wool and shearling dresses over dresses go, they were perfectly fine. Still, you were waiting for a buzz that never came.

A quick round-up of everything else I've loved so far: Hussein Chalayan's clever layering and thick knits; Lanvin's pin-neat daywear and flat brogues; the refreshing futurism of the young, namely Pedro Lourenço and Gareth Pugh; and pretty much everything at Mugler. But more on that very soon.

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