Paris Fashion Week ushers in a season of major changes

After New York, London and Milan, Paris will take up the baton and close the marathon of women's collections, that is ready-to-wear spring/summer 2017. Some 5,000 visitors are expected attend this season's show schedule with 91 shows, equalling the number in September 2015, but one less than the 92 witnessed last March.

The week of fashion in particular, which takes place over nine full days from Tuesday September 27 to Wednesday October 5, is set to be intensely watched with a slew of new creative directors showing for the first time.

The previous Dior show helmed by Raf Simons last summer - © PixelFormula

Five new designers will indeed make their debut this season for several prestigious fashion houses. First up, Anthony Vaccarello, who succeeds Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent.

The Belgian-Italian designer -- known for his time at Versace where he successfully lead the brand's younger collection, Versus -- is poised to go the distance, much like his predecessor. Not an easy feat, however. To make this runway collection happen and commit completely to Saint Laurent, Vaccarello decided to suspend his own label, Anthony Vaccarello, which has consequently disappeared from the Paris schedule this season.

Equally anticipated is Maria Grazia Chiuri's design debut, Friday September 30, for Christian Dior, who replaces Raf Simons after leaving the Paris house last year. The former co-creative director of Valentino, Grazia Chiuri is the first woman to take the reigns of Dior's haute couture, ready-to-wear, and accessories collections. She is also the second Italian designer to occupy the post after Gianfranco Ferré.

Pierpaolo Piccioli, the Valentino alter ego of Maria Grazia Chiuri, will also have to prove himself this week, going at it solo for the first time for Valentino. Will the Roman fashion house take a new direction? All will be revealed, Sunday October 2.

Another major brand weighing in on industry curiosity is Lanvin, after Alber Elbaz left the house close to a year ago. This Wednesday, September 28, Bouchra Jarrar will show her first collection for Lanvin, the former-haute couture designer now being in charge of Lanvin's womenswear.

The design duo return to Paris, but on separate stages: Pierpaolo Piccioli will show solo for Valentino, while Maria Grazia Chiuri takes the reigns at Dior - © PixelFormula

Lastly, come October 3, the spotlight will be on Christine Pung, who makes her debut as the design head of Léonard Paris. The younger designer will be filling a massive void, the house being without an artistic director since the departure of Yiqing Yin at the end of 2015.

This season, two emerging designers will also make their entry onto the official Paris schedule, while a number of new names will take their first step with several shows and presentations organised to take place during fashion week.

Paule Ka will debut day one of the Paris, schedule with a presentation. The brand was present at the last Paris Fashion Week, but off-schedule. It's the second collection for the brand, to be designed by new creative director, Alithia Spuri-Zampetti, who arrived one year after the departure of founder, Serge Cajfinger, in 2014.
 
The other major one-to-watch is Wanda Nylon, who has already showed for several seasons in Paris, but again, off-schedule. The founder and creative director of the brand, Johanna Senyk -- who is known for her translucent raincoats and won the Grand Prix Andam this year -- finally enters the big leagues.

Meanwhile, Olivier Theyskens returns to the runway after two years away, where he took time out to revive his brand. The Belgian designer disappeared from the fashion world in June 2014, when he also announced his departure from the US premium brand Theory. He was the artistic director there since 2010.

Wanda Nylon, autumn/winter 2016-17: a new design name to follow closely - © PixelFormula
 
Reintegrating into the official season program is Alexander McQueen, who showed in London last winter, and Olympia Le Tan. The new names and returning majors compensate for the brands amiss this Paris season -- namely, Vetements and Iris Van Herpen, who presented their collections in July during Paris couture week.

Swiss label Akris is also absent this edition, having showed in New York. Meanwhile, Cédric Charlier has left his Paris slot indefinitely. The designer is working on his men's line, which he will present with his womenswear in New York next January.

Elsewhere, Paris Fashion Week won't miss the opportunity to pay homage to Sonia Rykel, who passed away at the end of August. A parade honouring the founder is scheduled for October 3.

Last but not least, the industry spotlight certainly won't dim on those unmissable French fashion houses poised to come forth strong: Balmain, Chanel, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton and Hermès.
 

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