PFW: CEDRIC CHARLIER F/W 2014

“I know it’s raining, but you would think they would at least give the models a towel.”

Yes, the wet look hair was a bit distracting initially because it has been raining all day in Paris and everyone has wet hair, it seems. In fact, some of the more tightly packed shows have smelled a bit like a pack of wet poodles. They just don’t make the fragrance that adequately covers that smell. Get past the hair, though, and one realizes that what’s coming down the runway is an incredible collection of clothing for this fall/winter.

Belgian-born Cedric Charlier is one of those designers who might have been an architect if he were not so gifted at working with softer materials. His clothes are very structured, have a good sense of foundation to them, and don’t wander off into some dreamy state where practicality is lost. There’s nothing in this collection that is not instantly wearable. His lines are clean, his prints are precise, and his looks are very well styled. Really, what more could you ask from a line of clothes?

I shudder a little bit when I hear or see Charlier referred to as a minimalist. Yes, some of his silhouettes tend to have that rounded-shoulder and loose fitting shape, but Charlier likes textures far too much to be minimalist and the proof is found in a couple of knit sweaters where texture has been exaggerated into a pattern. Later on, he creates a totally unique look by using hole-punched rubber to overlay a shiny, textured leather; the effect is absolutely mesmerizing. Charlier also isn’t afraid to invoke some rather severe curves with he thinks the purpose suits him, and with some of his leather jackets the purpose suits him quite well.

What stands out? Well, there’s the knee-high boots, which fit much more loosely than most we’ve seen this season. Charlier uses the look well, especially with skirts whose hems come down just long enough to meet the boots. Then, there are the loose-styled trousers. One needs to actually see these trousers in motion to appreciate how well they look and the extent to which they really do flatter a woman’s legs. The tailoring here is dead-on and they’re going to be as comfortable as they are good looking. Optical illusion prints create the look of texture without actually providing any, which is mind blowing on some silk pieces that, at first glance, seem to have some kind of reptilian pattern to them. No, it’s all just done with some masterfully designed dyes.

Cedric Charlier is widely available across the US in a number of high-end department stores. Add this one to your shopping list. You’re going to look great even if you get caught in the rain.

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