Paris Denim Runway Highlights

We complete our Fall/Winter 12 denim runway coverage with our favorite collections from Paris. While not as denim-heavy as previous seasons, we were still pleased to see a number of directional houses pushing new silhouettes, treatments and laundries.

Bernhard Willhelm

Bernhard Willhelm’s F/W 12 collection revealed a somewhat unfinished and ever-changing collection that looked as if it had just come out of an acid trip from Gilliam’s 1998 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: obscure animal faces, kaleidoscope laundries and an intense psychedelic color palette. Denim shorts were given a rigid treatment that made the tiger motifs appear like cardboard cut-outs with heavy fraying along the hem, while an all-in-one was given an unfinished and raw effect with frayed edges, haphazard ruching and piping enhanced by acid washing and indigo seam pooling.


Chanel presented a focused and precise collection for F/W 12, delivering some great jean shapes combined with considered layering where pants were styled under skirts, blouses and oversized coats.  It was a feast of color and texture with a feel of sorcery – Karl’s signature rebellion gave the dark arts a moment within his couture repertoire. Semi-precious stones encrusted crushed velvet jeans, bags, and belts and trimmed jackets and eyebrows. Largerfeld also used prints in every which way, where coated metallics in silvers, black and electric blues combined to creat a sci-fi effect.


Claire Waight Keller seemed to step into the Chloe girl’s stride with her second season at the house– her girls charging down the catwalk to the backdrop of rock-ey music. Though their looks were more serene in the house’s signature soft palette of shades, lemon and sand, eggshell blue and nectarine combined for a serene effect. There were plenty of strong denim pieces that came layered beneath the sophisticated oversized outerwear, like a pair of slouchy quilted boyfriend trousers, a quilted varsity jacket, and a delicate chambray shirt to match the easy and breezy attitude of the Chloé girl.

See by Chloé

For Chloe’s diffusion line, the CEO, Geoffroy dela Bourdonnaye, decided online was the answer for F/W 12 and the show was the second label to present online at Digitalfashionshows.com. The label allowed an invite-only crowd to screen the pre-recorded show at 9:30 am on March 17th. The digital presentation allowed for replays, close-ups and more visibility than most get at a live show. As for the clothes themselves, the runway included a chic collection of modern basics- classic slim jeans and cords, an extreme pleat-front pant and some great layered knitwear. But the key look for denim was the quilted indigo ensemble: a knee-length denim vest with a second outdoors-inspired vest styled over the top; it was the most modern take on double denim to be seen on the F/W runways.

Isabel Marant

If we hadn’t already had enough confirmation for our True Grit Denim Developments report, Isabel Marant certainly confirmed it in her recent F/W 12 show.  The French designer moved on from the Native southwest inspiration of last season into this season’s ode to the cowboy.  Universally praised for a trendy, casual aesthetic, Marant commits 100% to her themes, and for F/W 12 that meant decorative yoke Western shirts and laser-cut suede and leather teamed with her signature denim injection. The denim came in capri-cropped fits with embroidered Western motifs and plenty of fringe, conchos, grommets and nail-stud patterns. A tight color palette of maroon, black, white and dusty pink gave this all-American runway feminine appeal.



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