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Paris

Altuzarra

Spring 2018 Ready-to-Wear

Paris

BY Katharine K. Zarrella

September 30, 2017

Joseph Altuzarra rocked the fashion calendar this season when he decided to take his show from New York to Paris. He’s not the first or only designer to do this—Thom Browne will show in Paris on Tuesday, and Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, and Monique Lhuillier presented during Haute Couture—but his choice to hop the pond was the one that really sent the New York fashion crew into a frenzy. 

However, Altuzarra is actually half French. He was raised in Paris, spending his formative years here, so in that sense, this wasn’t so much abandoning NYFW for PFW as it was a homecoming. 

With that in mind, Altuzarra wanted to show us Paris through his Spring 2018 collection, but he wanted to show us his Paris, not the Paris we read about in novels or see in films. “I didn’t want come to Paris and try to do a French collection,” Altuzarra explained. “I grew up here. I was here until I was 18. And I’ve been as French in New York as I am here. I didn’t want to belabor the point.” 

“When I was working on the show, I thought a lot about my life in Paris when I was a teenager,” Altuzarra continued. “There are a lot of references, whether it’s very personal things like my grandmother’s napkins that inspired the embroidery, or my mother’s knitting, which inspired a lot of the crochet pieces. It was a lot of very personal memories.”

The primary reference here was Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, an animated film that Altuzarra loved in his youth. It also feels particularly relevant given the plot, which focuses on how humans are destroying the forest and draining it of its resources. 

Held at Lycée Janson De Sailly—a frankly stunning high school in the 16th arrondissement—the collection was a striking combination of texture, sex appeal, and nonchalance. For instance, sheer black fishnet overlay brought a sensuality to handkerchief-print slip dresses in red or blue, and patched jackets and vests with Mongolian lamb trim exuded that carefree je ne sais quois that so many New Yorkers try to embody, but can’t quite achieve. These outerwear options will help. 

Black and white stripes, which appeared on a skirt suit and knits, and also came in 3D on fringed cotton wares, felt classically Altuzarra. 

Actually, that’s what was so great about this lineup—it all felt classically Altuzarra. There’s a lot of pressure that comes along with showing in Paris, and I think many young talents in his position would feel the need to try too hard, but Altuzarra stuck to his guns, and produced a well-rounded collection that will appeal to his dedicated clients around the globe. Button-down dresses with the tops open just so, elongated trousers, belted jackets, easy separates—these have all become pillars of the Altuzarra vocabulary, and they were all here.  

Some of the crochet pieces, when shown on the runway in a full look, felt a bit much—a bit too granny, perhaps—but when they hit the retail floor, and a crochet skirt is paired with, say, a white t-shirt instead of a pom-pom-embellished jacket, they’re poised to become Spring staples.

The show closed with a handful of breathtaking beaded and sequined looks. The silhouettes were simple—slinky, plunging necks, but unfussy—and they all shimmered in the twilight as the walked on by. This is some of the best eveningwear I’ve seen from Altuzarra. And as that last gilded dress with its thigh-high slit walked off the runway, and the designer came out to take his bow, it was clear that he was home. 

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