Paris would have to completely fall on its face, with the remaining shows failing completely, for this to not be my favorite of the four weeks this season. Looks here have been more diverse, more creative, and infinitely more comfortable than the New York, London, or Milan. Don’t ask me to explain why, because I can’t, but Paris feels more bright, more cheerful, and more positive toward fashion than I’ve seen in several years. Designers such as Maxime Simoens may be part of that change.
This is my first time covering Maxime Simoens. He is one of many young designers we’re seeing take an increasingly dominant role in Paris. He’s been out of design school less than ten years and already fashion conglomerate LVMH saw enough talent in what he was doing to scoop him up two years ago. While he’s not yet gained the popular following of larger houses, his name is certainly growing and collections like this one will inevitably push him further into the ready-to-wear spotlight.
First down Maxime’s runway was a white with blue trimmed crop top/shorts set that delivered the theme for the remainder of the collection. On the front of the top was a giant blue hashtag followed by the phrase, “Colorful is the new black.” The look tells us more than just Simoen’s use of color, though; it also reveals how technologically astute he is and the degree to which he is plugged into contemporary social morès. While he uses a fair amount of leather, he also takes advantage of new weaves and fabrics in his knitwear, making everything lighter, more fluid, and longer wearing.
Simoen’s silhouette runs more to the lean side of things, though it isn’t exactly skin tight on most pieces. He likes a little bend and curve, especially in dresses, and he isn’t afraid to use a belt to emphasize the feminine line. However, he rarely goes to the extreme of being restrictive and his use early in the presentation of large leather panels at the hips prevent anything from getting too terribly tight. So, while there are pencil skirts and skin-tight pants, there are also A-line, skater skirts and tunics. He does his share of chiffon baby dolls and even jumps on the bandwagon for long trailing sleeveless jackets. He is very adept at merging trends into his own style.
Color, of course, is the big thing for Simoens this season and he pulls that together in a large variety of prints, often played against black or white backgrounds for emphasis. There are banded sunsets, digital checked gradients, abstract paint brush strokes, and intricate basket weave designs that bring together just about every color on the spectrum. Solids are sometimes monochrome in very bright hues, but we also see contrasting separates that are very intelligently put together, strong enough to catch the eye without being overwhelming. Then, just for an added touch, he tosses a bit of spray color on the top of everyone’s head.
Maxime Simoens is a name to put on the watchlist if you’ve not already done so. His strength in today’s show reminds me just how old I’m getting and the degree to which the younger designers are what is driving this ancient city. Fashion has a very bright, exciting, and colorful future ahead of it with people like Maxime doing the driving.
Photo credit: Regis Colin Berthelier