It's been a tricky season for trends in that there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of them. Usually, the runways unfold like the aftermath of a big imaginary fashion summit, with designers declaring in unison that sleeves will be big, or red will be the only colour you'll want to wear. But this month? Not so much. Instead, some of the biggest takeaways seem to be a general feeling or mood. In Manchester it was one of incredible optimism. And among the multitude of looks and ideas in Paris, a growing sense of sex.
The carnal got a bit lost during the rise of modest dressing, as prim, voluminous midi length skirts and high-neck blouses stole the limelight away from their shorter, sheerer and tighter cousins. Sex was reduced to a cliché, the stuff of red carpets and poor imagination. The subject has grown even more complicated in the age of #MeToo, as the not-so-secret history of serial sexual abuse by some of the fashion world's most powerful photographers and stylists comes to light.
Nevertheless, skin has been on show (and sex is surely being had), this week in Paris. Designer Simon Jacquemus, who used his women's show to announce plans to launch menswear, took inspiration from his many travels to Morocco, which explained the clothes' summery feel. There were slinky knit dresses with slits cut thigh high, second skin dresses featuring flesh-baring peekaboo cut-outs and cleavage revealing, waist cinching jackets — each look appealing in its simplicity, each look meant to celebrate the woman's body rather than conceal it.
Meanwhile, Saint Laurent's Anthony Vaccarello is no stranger to sex. His creative vision for the brand is built on it and cleverly uses all the tropes — skyscraper high heels, leggy hemlines and second-skin trousers, with no short supply of leather. The beauty of Vaccarello's work is in the execution and his latest autumn/winter collection offered further proof through his decision to pair the tiniest leather shorts known to man with exquisitely cut jackets in rich, tasselled velvet or Prince of Wales check.
There were also black evening dresses with dramatically low necklines that traced elaborate shapes across the chest and Eighties-style, floral, mini dresses in a garden's worth of colour ways. The overall effect was more chic, than tart. Elegant instead of desperate. And very, very hot.
Natacha Ramsay-Levi's take on sex at Chloé also had a certain soigné quality to it, though with much less leg on show. Her breezy dresses in Seventies-inspired shades of tobacco and toffee came with v-shaped necklines that plunged navel-deep and cut-outs at the sides that were large enough to reveal naked hip bones.
Not that this was a parade of flesh, quite the opposite. Her looks were long, fluid and multi-layered, which threw the nude moments into sharp relief. It was a solid sophomore collection from the Louis Vuitton alum who joined the house last year, even if it wasn't always the most wearable. Peekaboo cut-outs from the hip to the rib cage, while attractive on the runway, aren't the easiest thing to pull off in real life.