Nordstrom at Paris Fashion Week

Although you wouldn’t figure him to be any older than, oh, say, your favorite older brother, Gilles Assor, U.S. head of the super-chic heritage footwear brand Robert Clergerie, has been around—in the best way. If you’re lucky enough to spend an afternoon hearing about his career in fashion, you’ll get an earful. From Galliano-era Dior to Jean Paul Gaultier’s JPG line (“before streetwear was streetwear”) to Paco Rabanne (“Balmain now is Paco Rabanne back then”) to the first time Birkenstocks were cool (and sanctioned by the Parisian boutique Colette), and from Barbara Bui to Margiela to Marc Jacobs in the era of baby discos at the Palais de Tokyo. Assor’s narrative résumé is just plain killer. If he weren’t so sweet and fun, he’d be pretty darn intimidating.

And as much as he knows about fashion (in case that isn’t clear yet, it’s A LOT), he’s also a pretty good resource for all things Chelsea. He’s lived in New York’s art gallery–studded neighborhood for four years, and the Robert Clergerie showroom, Assor’s “office,” has been in the Chelsea Arts Tower for two.

We were lucky enough to while away a few hours there with this fine Frenchman a few weeks ago. He snuck us up to the showroom’s rooftop event space, The Glasshouses, and pointed out the sites from on high: the seemingly singular one-story building where Donna Karan is said to be hosting her next runway show, the Frying Pan, the condos with drive-in, elevator-up garages (!).

“Realtors around here are now buying the sky,” he said in his spot-on, deadpan way. We left it at that—except for the following download on galleries, cocktails, coffee and, naturally, summer’s best shoes. (And some other stuff too.)

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We’re used to hearing about how designers are caught between seasons; at any given time they’re sketching for one time of year, selecting models to walk a runway for another, and getting sales and marketing reports for a third. But some designers live in between geographic locations as well. For example Joseph Altuzarra. The designer was born in Paris, worked with Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler in America, and then Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy in France before striking out on his own and settling down—and getting married—in New York City.

Image by Simon Cave, courtesy Joseph Altuzarra

Of course, who could choose just one city or the other—and why would they want to? There’s a time and place for everything, and we had the designer tell us exactly what that means for him. Keep reading for city-specific thoughts on baked goods, the ballet (he studied and performed for many years), perfect looks from his spring collection (but of course!)and more.

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Designers in Paris tend to march to their own very distinct beat, and the shows there always deliver a beautifully diverse array of trends. There were, however, certain key looks, items and ideas that emerged over the course of all four of this season’s fashion weeks and reached their apex in the French capital.

Among our Top 10: A mood of romantic, gothic Victorian; a nostalgic ’70s feeling; and a clean-edged retro-future idea that recalls the ’60s but is brought up to date with modern fabrications. Fur and layered texture continue in importance and a tailored coat, sleek bag and fitted boot will all be must-haves come fall. High-shine leather and precious dimensional embellishments in unexpected forms keep the look sleek, modern and feminine. Enjoy!

1. ’70S NOSTALGIA

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2. GOTHIC ROMANCE

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3. RETRO FUTURE

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Fashion Week Journal for Tuesday, March 10

Whether you’re watching the runway from home or from the front row, it’s impossible to not be completely captivated by certain models. There are the classically beautiful ones and the offbeat beauties, the girls who seem to come from another world and those who might be your awkward neighbor from kindergarten.

The best ones just have that something. Sometimes they’re even a little distracting—you look at them as closely as you do the clothes they’re modeling. But that plays into the brand too. Some models are cast because they have the perfect proportions and walk like they’re in a dream. Some are cast because they simply possess a spirit that draws you in—and keeps you there.

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Napavine, Washington’s Emilie Evander is among the last group. After she walked in the Gucci men’s show (they’re gender benders, you’ll recall) and made big waves there, Alexander Wang cast her as an exclusive for his New York Fashion Week show, then Gucci nabbed her as an exclusive for Milan. And they had her close the show. In Paris, she walked in the much buzzed-about shows for Rick Owens and Margiela.

It’s a big deal to be booked exclusively; it means it’s the only show you do in that market. It means you’re paid more. It means the brand really wants your certain something to represent their certain something. Evander’s certain something is in her 5’11” frame and her ethereal coloring, but it’s also in her goofball spirit and small-town roots. She’s a total sweetheart and a complete teenager. She loves her mom and family and her community, and she’s curious about the world. She also likes steak and French fries, as I learned when I had dinner with her at Le Relais de l’Entrecote.

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Highlights and commentary from yesterday’s runway shows: Saint Laurent channels and refines a little ’80s rock ‘n’ roll, and Valentino takes a gothic plunge into a sea of black textures before bestowing viewers with a really, really, ridiculously good-looking surprise.

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 Saint Laurent

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Fashion Week Journal for Monday, March 9

It’s weird but true: a good coffee in Paris is hard to find. Unless, that is, you happen to go by Vogue’s Americans in Paris Fashion Week showcase where a certain award-winning, coffee-making expat is pulling shots and doling out croissants.

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Highlights and commentary from yesterday’s runway shows: Stella McCartney makes modern sophistication look totally effortless.

Stella McCartney Fall 2015 Paris Fashion Week

Stella McCartney

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Fashion Week Journal for Sunday, March 8

By the fourth week of what is really Fashion Month, the sheer number of shows attended by someone like Konca Aykan, the super-chic stylist and Vogue Turkey Fashion Director, is sort of staggering. So asking her over a laid-back Saturday lunch which ones have stood out—well, it’s not really a trick question, but it’s also not an easy one.

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Highlights and commentary from yesterday’s runway shows: Chloé rocks a bewitching uptown-gypsy vibe; Kenzo wraps mod military layers around fluid designs that nod to the label’s Japanese DNA.

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Chloé

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Fashion Week Journal for Sunday, March 8

If you’re the sort who’s in it for the details, runway shows can actually be a little bit frustrating. Even from Kim and Kanye’s seats, you just can’t always see the tiny embellishments and the careful tucks and seams—let alone the accessories or the nails. At Kenzo, details have a way of being not just downright museum-quality but also streetwise and cool, so I was pretty psyched to learn that I had backstage access before their show. All the better to see the nuances at close range, and to see how the story of those details comes together.

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Turns out there really is a nuanced tale behind Kenzo’s fall 2015 collection. Keep reading to get the scoop, and to find out how eventually the entire Paris Event Center got to see it up close and personally.

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