Minimalism and Feminine Reveries – The Paris Fashion Playground of the Look For 2010

Last week’s Paris Fashion Week would be hard to beat in terms of big news and bigger ideas. The death of Alexander McQueen shortly before the event, and the posthumous showcasing of his collection (finished by his design team) obviously positioned itself as the week’s main feature. Not surprisingly. The outfits were suitably grandiose with a rich monarchical feel, the gilt detail and religious symbolism seeming to speak of meditations on finality – all was angel wings and the scroll work of aged stone. The staggering quality and originality of these outfits made for a fitting final chapter to McQueen’s work and its impact will surely be translated into the work of designers in the more traditional field for autumn/winter 2010.

In contrast to the unabashed lavishness of McQueen’s final collection we have also seen the continued development of one of the most influential British-led trends to date: the unstoppable rise of feminine minimalism in fashion. At the spearhead of this movement are the designers Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo and Hannah MacGibbon.

The look is one of a refined profile, with exaggeratedly-geometric cuts left drastically unadorned with even the most modest of details. Block colours comprising a dusky range reinforce the measured feel, abstaining from the spring gambol into bright palettes. Philo is said to have been the first to identify and coin the term, and we can see from this designer’s appearances on the catwalk alone a kind of practical handbook in this new feminine minimalism: a smoking-jacket style coat, grey with mute black reversed lining, womens trousers, and no accessories. The staple requirements of the look seemed to be camel coat, simple well cut blouse, black trousers. Even the London ‘female dandy’ and ‘ladette’ looks can’t claim to the individuality that this look is lending to women’s fashion, despite it being something of a challenging kind of look to pull off.

It was interesting to note the way in which this trend was not in the least picked up by some of the other big names at the week, and even contradicted some of Stella McCartney’s more luxurious designs that may have appeared across the same footlights were it not for a lack of continuity. There was nothing utilitarian in Louis Vuitton’s elegant outfits, where a Grace Kelly style femininity was captured in long evening gloves and sumptuous, shapely dresses. Chanel’s offering had more of a carnivalesque feel about it, with jaunty capes and lordly tweeds in Arctic whites all contributing to a collection that refused to court simplicity.

If the trends can meet somewhere in the middle it will shape the overall look for spring/summer 2010. The harsh minimalism of the British designers lends itself well to development into something you are likely to find in the high street, while despite its endless charm there seems little chance of the Vuitton look suddenly becoming accessible to us other than in some Italianate afternoon daydream of yachts and tumultuous romance.

I write articles to help you dress to impress whether at work or out in the evening. I read a lot of top fashion blogs and also have a particular interest in work outfits and give advice tips on how to dress up boring womens trousers. I cover a range of fashion houses and brands and one of my particular favourites is Matalan.