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PFW Designers To Know

FEATURE: LONG READ
Words by ABIGAIL GURNEY-READ

What the Parisians don’t know about style isn’t worth knowing – and the same can be said of PFW designers. The birthplace of haute couture, and the grande dame of the Fashion Month calendar, Paris is lauded as the international authority on all things chic. Here’s looking at five names leading the way.

Plus, for the latest from all four fashion capitals, follow #HarrodsAtTheShows.

Valentino
Valentino

What: Casualised couture. Why: Though courted by Hollywood and the fashion press alike, Pierpaolo Piccioli is far from the showman one might expect. Private, modest and grounded, the creative director of Valentino eschews the spotlight; instead, he lets his craft speak for itself. Couture techniques infuse each and every Valentino runway – charged by Piccioli’s personal and political commitment to positive change. Hallowed techniques and a lightness of touch, previously reserved for an elite few, are now par for the course under Piccioli’s direction – which sees couture democratised, one stitch at a time. Where to Wear: Revelling in the masterpieces of the Uffizi's Botticelli Rooms. As artworks go, your dress may give Venus a run for her money.

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Loewe
Loewe

What: Craft at its finest. Why: Jonathan Anderson is a stickler for detail. Loewe Creative Director and chief juror of the prestigious Loewe Craft Prize – an award that celebrates artisanal talent across multiple disciplines, the Northern Irish designer has made the pursuit front-and-centre of his own practice. Don’t be surprised if you clock silhouettes and techniques that you haven’t seen anywhere else. Where to Wear: Your weekly ceramics class. Exercise caution when in proximity of the lathe; your voluminous midi will thank you for it.

Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen

What: The best of British. Why: Though a highlight of the Paris Fashion Week calendar, London is the lifeblood of Alexander McQueen – intrinsic to the legacy of its Lewisham-born founder, who apprenticed on Savile Row before honing his craft at Central Saint Martins. Sarah Burton, now at the helm, champions a trifecta of couture, consideration and craft; her SS20 collection united upcycled lace and tulle, designs hand-stitched over the line drawings of students from ‘Lee’ McQueen’s alma mater and, of course, immaculate tailoring. Where to Wear: To address the Oxford Union; an Alexander McQueen suit will speak volumes.

Paco Rabanne
Paco Rabanne

What: Chainmail and paillettes by the bucketload. Why: In 1966, maverick designer Paco Rabanne unveiled his seminal 'Manifesto' collection to the world. Extraordinary creations – sculpted in hammered metal, aluminium and chainmail – became the go-to partywear of Françoise Hardy and Audrey Hepburn. Fast forward to SS20 and, under the direction of Julien Dossena, the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. So much so, that it was to Rabanne's heyday – the swingin’ sixties and seventies – that Dossena paid tribute with his summer (of love) collection, scattered with hearts and blooming flower-power motifs. Where to Wear: Soho’s answer to Studio ’54. Dancing is optional, but encouraged.

Balmain

What: Styles to make an entrance. Why: Olivier Rousteing is in the business of confidence. Emanating and encouraging it. “Own who you are” decreed printed tees on Balmain’s SS20 runway – a battle cry of individual strength and collective unity. Even in the absence of a literal slogan, jewel-bright sequins and eighties-inspired mini dresses were equally as outgoing. “I love the strength of women,” Rousteing told us. “I try to use my clothes to emphasise it.” Where to Wear: Girls' night out. Coordinate your looks to serve serious #squadgoals.

Man and woman standing outside in jacket and coat

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