The Millennial has been a big topic in Paris this week.
What she wears, what she buys, how much she's willing to spend. It's a bit of a switch from Paris's other big spring/summer '18 story of grown-up glamour. Aside from all of the elaborately feathered, sequinned, and frilled couture-like looks we've seen this week, there's a youthquake bubbling (from Dior to Chloé, Carven, Lanvin and Givenchy.) And some brands are proving to have a stronger grasp of the idea than others, creatively.
At Chloé, Natacha Ramsay-Levi made a strong debut in her first role leading a French house – a debut that scores of editors were willing to wait in a very long queue, in the rain, to see. The excitement around her show was largely due to her impressive experience having worked as Nicolas Ghesquiere's right-hand woman at both Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton.
Not to mention the fact that Chloé is the very same house that launched the careers of Phoebe Philo, Stella McCartney and the most recent creative director Clare Waight Keller, who made her debut at Givenchy this week. No pressure, Natacha, right?
If she felt an impossible weight of expectation, it wasn't visible in the clothes, which looked easy, effortless and cool. Chloé has long been known for its youthful carefree spirit and Natacha nailed it. There were swingy, short and midi-length dresses with the slightest hint of bohemia worn with tall, leather mesh western boots (destined to be a hit on the street style circuit come spring); slim-cut trousers cropped below the knee in order to show off the covetability of said boots; the best velvet trouser suits covered in embroidered horses; flouncy mini skirts and trim leather jackets.
The clothes had an element of romanticism, mixed with a tough western sensibility, and it worked. Her aesthetic and technical mash-up looked wearable, not overwrought. And the loud applause at the end of the show was proof.
Carven also got a new look, courtesy of its new head creative, Serge Ruffieux, formerly of Christian Dior where he worked under John Galliano before eventually serving as interim co-creative director with Lucie Meier.
Like Chloé, Ruffieux's new vision for Carven had a strong sense of ease and millennial appeal. His dresses were the standouts here. They came gathered with drawstrings, some with arm and chest-revealing keyholes, while other dresses were done more simply in silk, gathered at the front. All of them had a breezy, throw-it-on quality. And for days when there's a chill in the air, cropped Barbour-like jackets. Ruffieux's Carven showed a level of promise we haven't necessarily seen since Guillaume Henry first re-launched the brand in 2009.
Lanvin, on the other hand, was a different story. New creative director Olivier Lapidus' play for millennials made a stark contrast to predecessor Bouchra Jarrar's romantic vision for the house established during her brief two-collection-long stint as its leader — and an even louder departure from the elegance and intelligent whimsy that defined Alber Elbaz's critically acclaimed and commercially loved tenure.
The difference in messaging and approach was notable. Here, a play for younger consumers seemed to mostly mean simple, Nineties-style dresses with short, asymmetric hemlines and an abundance of logos.
Only time will tell if it sells.