Here come the Belgians! One of the joys, or frustrations depending on one’s point of view, of Paris Fashion Week is the large number of Belgian designers who show here. Typically, to identify someone as a Belgian designer also defines them as a minimalist since that’s where the large, architectural movement began. In previous seasons, certainly this time a year ago and in last season’s Fall/Winter collection, Cedric Charlier fit quite nicely within that group without any argument.
Oh, but wait! These aren’t minimalist designs, we’re seeing come down this runway! And … are those ruffles on those dresses? Are you sure we’re at the right fashion show?
Actually, Charlier began hinting at making a more embellished move with the design of his sweaters for this fall/winter season, and his resort collection for this year had hardly any hints of minimalism in it at all. So, those who actively follow the designer weren’t too terribly surprised by anything coming down the catwalk this morning … except maybe the ruffles. Those were a bit unexpected.
What Charlier does with this collection is take us on a journey through the creation of his garments. The first few looks are quite exciting and different in their unfinished appearance, with stitching and loose threads showing, giving us a clue as to what all is actually involved in putting together the wonderful looks coming further in the collection. Will these looks be available on the shelves next spring or was this just for show? I’ve not gotten an answer to that question yet, but they are listed for pre-ordering so one would assume there’s a possibility we could see the ensembles in this condition, which I find incredibly cool.
Finished looks are certainly lovely as well and I really shouldn’t imply that Charlier has stripped away all the minimalism from his designs as there are still some incredible folds and gathers throughout the presentation that really demonstrate how talented he is at manipulating material. What’s different, though, is the more tailored and fitted look we see in several of the pieces. Charlier uses stitching rather than belting to create form and shape, especially at the waist. He also uses tiered layering rather heavily at times, which is what eventually creates those ruffled looks that are so dramatically different from his previous collections. One might just get the impression that Cedric has gotten a little stitch happy this season, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all.
Along the way, one cannot help but notice the broad mariner stripes done in metallic gold and silver, nor the mohair sweaters that come later in the collection, and one certainly can’t miss those big metallic bows adorning the sliders most everyone is wearing.
As difficult as it might be to believe this of a Belgian designer, this Cedric Charlier collection is genuinely a lot of fun and brings a lot of excitement to the spring/summer season. Whether this is a permanent transformation for the designer we’ll have to wait and see, but certainly it is a welcome change that keeps everyone on their toes and perhaps makes the clothes more accessible to a broader range of women.
Photo credit: Guillame Roujas