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Paris Fashion Week highlights from Balenciaga, Celine, Valentino, Givenchy

Balenciaga’s spring/summer 2017 collection was all about square, elevated, awkward shoulders and unabashedly bright colours. Think uniform clothing with a twist, featuring wide suiting, PVC boots, all-over florals, Spandex and shiny capes. It wasn’t quite as groundbreaking as last season’s debut show by creative chief Demna Gvasalia, but the influence of his work at Balenciaga and at his own Vetements label is evident in the big 1980s-style shoulders, voluminous shirts and puffer jackets on many catwalks.

At the Celine show, audience members were greeted by a quote from artist Dan Graham: “I want to show that our bodies are bound to the world whether we like it or not.” What that had to do with what followed wasn’t entirely clear, but the painted white dresses in Phoebe Philo’s collection may have offered a hint. The show was gorgeous and the looks full of contrasts – fluid dresses in airy silks were feminine and body skimming, but jackets and trouser suits remained oversized, big-shouldered and masculine, some with cool cut-outs and a twist at the back. She surprised with her generous use of colour, as well as huge tote bags and mismatched coloured shoes.

With Maria Grazia having left Valentino to take up the position of creative director at Dior, the pressure is on for both her and former design partner Pierpaolo Piccioli, now in sole charge at Valentino, to show that they can work just as well apart as they did together. We shouldn’t have worried about Piccioli: his first solo show was a coup d’etat. His collection showed the beauty and delicacy the label has become known for, with exquisite laces, sheers and embroidery, but also a loosening up and a more carefree attitude. There were more layers, shirts, and jackets for practical dressing, but the collection was not short of spine-tingling gowns, such as an off-the-shoulder red pleated leather dress, and black sheer tulle looks. This was definitely one of our favourite moments so far in Paris.

Givenchy’s spectacularly tailored black suiting showed off Riccardo Tisci’s skill as a designer. Long formal vests and jackets came with big, pouch-like pockets and zips that made parts detachable for a cropped option, while form-fitting flared trousers were cut just right. With all the voluminous silhouettes on the catwalks, this was refreshing to see. There were some safe ’70s prints, pretty-hued dresses layered on top of each other and, notably, huge tortoiseshell chains with giant spliced crystal or quartz pendants hanging from them, which made for striking accessories.