by Alexander Fury .

Paris Fashion Week: Some calm before the storm

I'm on the Eurostar on my way to Paris, and to distract my attention
from the various not-so-insignificant items of luggage I have
undoubtedly forgotten (in Milan these included contact lenses and more
than two pairs of trousers) I often mull over the shows we've seen,
and what that may mean for the season ahead.

The Milan shows were pretty strong this season. Not as strong as last
time - but with their penchant for sun-worship and stripping off, the
Milanese 'get' summer much more than winter. In contrast with almost
every other fashion capital, the Milan shows are overwhelmingly better
for spring than for winter.

There are exceptions, of course, like Jil Sander under Raf Simons,
consistently forward-thinking, inquisitive and intelligent. This
season, his felt like the surest hand in Milan - well, tied with
Miuccia Prada, a woman with so many ideas about clothing and so great
an influence season upon season, she deserves a fashion week to

Some other assured collections came from more unexpected quarters,
none more so than the beleagured house of Gianfranco Ferre. Tomasso
Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi tagged on to the still-influential feel
for the minimal throbbing through fashion, but have it a new spin.
Well, it wasn't exactly 'new', but we haven't seen it for a good ten
years, not since the later collections of Helmut Lang and the earliest
offerings of Nicolas Ghesquiere at Balenciaga. And it was very
interesting to see it at Ferre, initially a contrast to the house's
archives or ornamental excess, but the more I think about it an ode to
Signor Ferre's architectonic brilliance. A Gianfranco Ferre collection
that makes you think? Who could have anticipated that?

I also loved what Christopher Kane and Donatella Versace created for
the Versus label - much more than either the Versace or Kane
collections, to be honest. Fortunately I had a chance to see these
clothes up close, and therefore fully appreciate the surfaces of
leather coats bonded with glitter, sparkling embossed pattern and
Kane's neat way with a lurex Fairisle knit.

Most of the fashion we saw in Milan was unequivocally Italian - I
can't imagine a French palette digesting Versace's baroque curlicues
or the heaving bosoms and cling-film tight skirts of Peter Dundas'
Emilio Pucci any easier than a bucket of spaghetti carbonara, of which
they are the sartorial equivalent. But certain elements dominant at
Milan Fashion Week will undoubtedly cross over. That feel for the
point where the sixties met the seventies was articuated time and
again: witness Frida Giannini of Gucci's latest homage to YSL, a
French national treasure Parisians are always happy to see deified,
even by their traditional Fashion rivals. We also saw much of
Balenciaga imitated, a fall-off from last season's Jil Sander that
also seagues into that mid-century revivalism.

But it's always a mistake to try and second-guess Paris, the capital
of international fashion and the one city powerful enough to make or
break a trend at the final hurdle. I'll be there in just a few hours.
Milan Fashion Week is over. Long live Paris Fashion Week!