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Synonymous with the crème de la crème of fashion, Paris has long been the world’s fashion capital, both hosting the industry’s biggest names, and acting as an incubator for promising new talent. It remains the highpoint of every fashion month, with over 70 shows and presentations in the space of just one week. Make sense of the last leg of the fashion marathon with this cheat-sheet rundown of highlights, trends, and the ones-to-watch.

In search of summer sun

Storm Emma and the Beast from the East might have invaded in Britain, but designers in Paris were dreaming of warmer climes. Kicking off the Parisian calendar, Jacquemus brought the warm winter sun into a below-freezing Paris with a collection inspired by the Moroccan souk: think long, flowing tunics, thin-knit body-hugging dresses and loose, pleated trousers in terracotta and golden khaki. Later in the week, Chloé and Isabel Marant took us on a trip into a neo-Wild West with tan-brown frills and cowboy-boot embroidery at the former and wearable blanket-ponchos, fringed pouches and snakeskin leggings at the latter.

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Voices of a generation

And it’s a generation of change. Maria Grazia Chiuri continued her feminist campaign, as the Dior woman strode along the catwalk with determination, strength and confidence in 1960s patchwork designs paired with sturdy boots and elegant caps: everyday armour for a woman changing the world. Even the venue spoke of social change, every inch of it plastered with torn-up magazine covers, newspaper clippings and protest boards from May 1968, the summer of social revolution. In a more subtle though just as pertinent statement, Giambattista Valli and Valentino brought us long, sweeping gowns that flowed harmoniously with the models’ movements. This woman, in the Valli’s own words, “is curious and feels comfortable in her femininity”, and needs nothing more to prove it. Over at Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli took the house’s signature prettiness, and gave it power, having models glide down the runway clad in cape-dresses and billowing hoods in both graphic florals and bold, monochromatic colour.

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Wrap up warm

With Paris plagued by below-freezing temperatures, layering was back in a big way both off and on the catwalk. Between shows, street-style favourites such as Eva Chen, Shiona Turini, Aimee Song and Giovanna Battaglia were all spotted doubling up coats, scarves and sweaters, finished off with snug thigh-high boots and long fur coats. On the runway Maison Margiela layered extra-large waterproofs, transparent macs and fluoro-parkas over their pieces, Sacai dressed models in hybrid pieces made of puffers, parkas, blazers and trenches, and Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga had models layer up four or five different coats. But Gvasalia’s shows are always much more than just their clothes, be it for his own label, Vetements, or as creative director of Balenciaga: this show was the first mixed menswear and womenswear presentation in Balenciaga’s history, a choice that will no doubt have significant financial and artistic consequences on the label.

Instagram: maisonmargiela
Instagram: Balenciaga

She’s a nature child…

Nature took over the catwalks this week, taking us deep into the woods, trekking in tropical jungles and out into the countryside. Kenzo’s designs quite literally enveloped models in jungle flora so thick you could barely make out their faces. At Hermès, Etienne Russo gave the traditional country lady a sleek upgrade with glossy black leather trench coats, suede booties and tightly-cinched shearling coats. In one of the most impressive coups of the week, Karl Lagerfeld had real trees brought over from Perche Natural Park to enhance the already spectacular misty woodland scene at the Grand Palais. Once the show started, exotic notes interrupted more classical designs, with gold lamé pants, richly embroidered gowns and colours of an Indian summer both mourning the passing of summer, and celebrated the cosiness only a winter log fire can provide.

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…But she’s a city girl at heart

The independence, allure, and lifestyle of a city girl never cease to inspire designers. Atlein brought us minimalist, graphic lines with just a hint of sport-luxe; Altuzarra took on workwear in new fabrics, prints and volumes; Miu Miu took us back to the 1960s with cosy cocoon coats, sky-high beehives and the return of the mini dress (also spotted at Dior and APC); Céline put a chic twist on normcore. For those really feeling the inner city chill, Lacoste, Haider Ackerman, Anaïs Jordan, Undercover, Alexander McQueen and many more provided us with puffer coats – even Chanel toyed with a lightly quilted jacket, and Givenchy presented us with perhaps the most covetable wardrobe of fur coats to date. Saint Laurent dazzled under the lights of the Eiffel tower, with leather hot pants, mysteriously low-brimmed hats, opulent velvet details, and sumptuous fur jackets bringing the heat to a chilly night. Looking for an added dose of 1980s glam? Alexandre Vauthier, one of Bella Hadid’s favourites, brings it in buckets, finished off with his signature Parisian nonchalance.

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Instagram: celine

Fashion as art

Every season, you can rely on a handful of designers to bring their imaginative A-game to the catwalk. From Thom Browne's sculptural details that constantly reinvent the female form, to Comme des Garçons’ otherworldly abstractions that throw all traditional tailoring out the window, Rick Owen’s post-industrial expressionism that remains above all else authentic, and Margiela’s constant exploration and search for a new form of beauty, there’s something ineffably poetic about their work.

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Instagram: maisomargiela

The ones to watch

LVMH prize winner Marine Serre presented her first show to great acclaim, a stand-out piece being the total scarf-print look, whereas Andam fashion award finalist, Aalto, brought us everything from furry t-shirts to chunky knits, silk jackets and a new take on the Canadian tuxedo. Collaboration king Virgil Abloh’s name was also buzzing like never before; everyday brought a new exclusive collaboration between the Off-White designer, musician and artist, and brands like Byredo and Nike. Finally, a special mention goes to Y/Project, who amongst varied, original design persists with a trend the fashion world loves to hate: thigh-high boots à la UGG – where do you stand?

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Instagram: off___white