Paris’s spring/summer 2009 collection presentations ended on Sunday, with approximately 95 shows listed on the official fashion calendar and some of the season’s most anticipated shows kicking off fashion week. British designer Gareth Pugh made his Paris debut with a white and black collection of hypermodern, robot-like dresses and jackets that, in many ways, set the bar for all of fashion week, which was dominated by geometry and strict tailoring in such colors. Brands, for example, such as Belgium’s Bruno Pieters, Turkey’s Dice Kayek, France’s Guy Laroche, Requiem and Rue de Mail, and Japan’s Limi Feu, Yohji Yamamoto, Undercover and Commuun all stayed devoutly two-tone, save for flashes of pink, petrol and sunflower yellow.

Meanwhile, the big luxury brands remained true to their own aesthetic. Chanel showed contemporary luxury classics, Nina Ricci romantic flimsy gowns and Balmain a rock-attitude mixed with military elements and glittery accents. Lanvin sent over its catwalk Alber Elbaz’s typical volume dresses and a lot of one-shoulder tops, while Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton switched up the classics, offering wide-legged trousers, well-tailored suits and flippy miniskirts. Jean-Paul Gaultier modernized some of his own creations—mainly his suits—and mixed in a fancy way romantic, sporty, optic and Art Nouveau elements for his own fashion-house. For Hermès, he reinterpreted the Wild West in the finest leather.

Dior’s collection was a surprise because designer John Galliano broke with the typical Dior “New Look” of the Fifties and showed an ultra-romantic collection of printed chiffon mini-dresses in bold colors and a wide range of feathery evening gowns. For his own house, Galliano reverted, after several seasons of pure creativity and fancy, to wearable clothes in strong summer colors with strong detailing, cuts and ruching. The same went for Miuccia Prada, who, for her second line Miu Miu, put the focus on feminine, wearable pleated skirts made out of laser-cut textiles with unexpected graffiti patterns.

And surely the most forward-looking collections were once again Balenciaga and Givenchy. Designer Nicolas Ghesquiere tested new textiles in futuristic cuts in mostly pale colors or with shiny and reflective surfaces for Balenciaga. Dresses mostly had an A-shape and trousers a wraparound silhouette. Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy too played against the predominance of skirts and dresses for next summer. His trousers—a blend of leather and fabric and high-waisted—seemed at times like hard biker clothes, but worked when paired with elegant, sexy tops.

Barbara Markert