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10 Things That Happened at Paris Fashion Week

Concluding the Continental leg of runway shows, Paris puts a fin on Fashion Week. For Spring 2017, that finale left some things unresolved.

This season had creative director debuts at prominent French fashion houses Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. But even with all that newness, the ’80s were back in a big way, both on the street and the runways. With a jewelry heist (haven’t you heard?), AI on the catwalk and celebs in the FROWs plus behind the designs, fashion seems to be grappling with the questions and fascinations of modernity—parading them before us this week dressed in finery.

Here are some of the most memorable moments from Paris Fashion Week Spring 2017. To be continued next season, no doubt …

1. Chanel’s bots
Chanel Spring 2017

Image by Indigital Images

In a faux data-storage center, that unglamorous, bland space on which so many of our technological luxuries rely, Karl Lagerfeld presented Chanel’s Spring 2017. To kick off the runway presentation, two models-on-the-rise sported traditional Chanel tweed suits and wry smiles. The twin bots teed up a technicolored collection featuring programmer-approved baseball caps and purses with lights twinkling like a motherboard.

2. Maria Grazia Chiuri debuts at Dior
Christian Dior Spring 2017

Image by Indigital Images 

One of the more exciting appointments in this season’s merry-go-round of fashion creative directors, Maria Grazia Chiuri left Valentino, and co-director Pierpaolo Piccioli, to lead Dior. As the first woman to helm this legendary house, and on the heels of Raf Simons’s success, Chiuri faces great expectations and attention. With Beyoncé’s “Flawless” on the soundtrack and novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in attendance, Chiuri presented a romantic collection of tulle dresses and fencing outfits alongside T-shirts emblazoned with calls for feminism—proving she’s up to the challenge of confronting the paradox of contemporary womanhood.

3. Rihanna out and about in Paris

Rihanna at Paris Fashion Week Spring 2017
Image by Indigital Images

Fortunately for the fashion world, following her coquettish Fenty x Puma presentation at the aristocratic Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, Rihanna chose to flit around the show circuit in the French capital. Taking her style to les rues, on different days the singer donned standout pieces like a giant pink Ella Boucht puffer jacket, Unravel thigh-high boots with a Vetements shirt, a beaded Dior dress (pictured), an Isa Arfen velvet coat and, naturally, a Fenty x Puma hoodie. She returned to New York rocking a head of cascading dreadlocks that seemed to sprout somewhere over the Atlantic.

4. The Kim Kardashian caper 
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Kim Kardashian West with Kanye West at the Met Gala. Photo by Billy Farrell/BFA/REX/Shutterstock.

The biggest story to come out of Paris Fashion Week had a criminal element. Following a dinner party celebrating the Givenchy collection, Kim Kardashian West was accosted, bound and robbed at gunpoint of nearly $10 million worth of jewelry in her private room at the Hôtel de Pourtalès. Conspiracy theories are proliferating online. Public judgments abound on social media. The incident has caused the French Interior Ministry, Karl Lagerfeld and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer each to comment. As yet, the suspects remain at large … with one very big, very famous diamond ring.

5. Anthony Vaccarello for Saint Laurent 
Anthony Vacarello Spring 2017

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On bared thighs and shoulders, Italian-Belgian designer Anthony Vaccarello ushered in his era at YSL. The sexy spring collection debuted in the label’s sparse and dark new headquarters, an abbey-turned-armed forces ministry and now a fashion house, designated outside by a giant neon YSL logo overhead. For being a new day at YSL, Vaccarello relied heavily on house designs from the ’80s, interpreting the catalog in his favored fabric, black leather. Mini dresses and skirts, Le Smoking jackets, puff sleeves and corsets populated the runway, harkening back while gesturing forward—one nude limb at a time.

6. Dries Van Noten freezes flowers
Dries Van Noten Spring 2017

Images by Indigital Images

Colorful blooms enshrined in ice stood on either side of the runway. During the show, the ice melted, forming puddles on the floor and slowly freeing the flowers from their frosty cages. These perfect representations of spring were the work of floral artist Azuma Makoto. Dries Van Noten continues to be a designer who incorporates influences freely, working with whom he chooses, putting out collections true to his vision and the women he serves. Makoto’s frozen bouquets perfectly captured the designer’s reserved exuberance in a form more fleeting than Van Noten’s fashions.

Dries Van Noten Spring 2017

7. Sonia Rykiel’s celebration of life
Sonia Rykiel Spring 2017

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Orange-haired iconoclast Sonia Rykiel passed away in August. Although she had safely handed over the direction of her eponymous fashion house to Julie de Libran in 2014, the loss still reverberated through Paris Fashion Week. Rykiel was a singular woman, a writer, a spirited creator and collaborator, and a designer who created practical but elegant clothes for modern women. She was known for her “poor boy” sweaters, and this season the Sonia Rykiel show began with models marching the runway in knits that spelled out “Rykiel Forever” and ended in a storm of confetti.

8. Stella McCartney’s dance finale

Stella McCartney Spring 2017

Image by Indigital Images 

Proving that these are clothes you can move in, Stella McCartney’s models broke into choreography by Blanca Li at the conclusion of her PFW show. The routine devolved into a raucous dance-off (perhaps this season’s social media moment) with cliques of models clashing in rhythmic gestures while grinning and goofing off. With all the serious mugging that happens on the runway and in the front row, McCartney’s spontaneous dance sesh offered a reminder that clothes should quite simply make the wearer feel good.

9. Alber Elbaz appointed an officer in the Légion d’Honneur

Alber Elbaz at Paris Fashion Week Spring 2017

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How great was it to see the charismatic Elbaz about this Fashion Week? The former head of Lanvin is between appointments but remains an industry favorite, as proven by the room of celebrities and elites gathered at the Palais Royal to see him promoted from chevalier to officer in the French Légion d’Honneur this week. “Here I am, inviting you to a show with no dresses. It was difficult, but don’t you find it original?” he quipped, as Anna Dello Russo, Demi Moore, Kristin Scott Thomas, Pierpaolo Piccioli and Glenda Bailey looked on. Elbaz attended several Paris shows and was a fixture on the scene, leading many to speculate what’s next for the designer.

10. Alexander McQueen’s sea foam dresses

Alexander McQueen Spring 2017

Images by Indigital Images

Like mermaids cresting above cold waters, models descended the runway in the concluding couture designs from Sarah Burton’s spring 2017 collection for Alexander McQueen. Although she shows in Paris and manufactures primarily in Italy, like McQueen, Burton looks to the British Isles for inspiration. Kilts, Shetland lace dresses, leather corsets, Fair Isle knits and plaid jackets were all represented in this collection. But back to those dresses, sheer and sparkly with frothy hems: they looked like chilled water and acted like a splash in the face to awaken anyone tired after a month of fashion runways.

Alexander McQueen Spring 2017