Francois Mori, Associated Press
PARIS — Everyone loves a high-profile rivalry, but perhaps the fashion world more than most.
This might explain why fashion writers have so eagerly pitted the two new influential faces of Paris' ready-to-wear calendar against each other.
In the Christian Dior ring, Raf Simons — the house designer appointed in April whose Friday collection wowed journalists — and in Yves Saint Laurent's, Hedi Slimane, the 44-year-old appointed in March, who himself used to work at Dior menswear.
Amid incredible pressure to deliver, Paris-born Slimane unveiled his new vision for the rival house Monday, with YSL themselves adding to the buzz through their strict guestlist and restricted invitations.
Meanwhile, the front row presence was proof enough of the brand's enduring allure: From French First Lady Valerie Trierweiler, actress Jessica Chastain and a roll call of his designing peers Vivienne Westwood, Alber Elbaz and Marc Jacobs.
So who won?
YVES SAINT LAURENT
When fashion editors put down their pens halfway through a catwalk show, it's always cause for worry.
This was the case at Hedi Slimane's disappointing debut at Yves Saint Laurent — a rather confused ode to excess that used fringing, leather, lacing, tassels, feathers, sequins, skinny menswear tailoring, baggy pants, cinching cummerbunds, capes, tribal pendants and almost everything else under the sun.
Pierre Berge, Saint Laurent's former partner said: "(Slimane) knows the Saint Laurent DNA, the spirit."
There was definitely a nod to that. For example, black silk neckbows, a house signature that was used as a leitmotif. But the collection lacked the empowering sex appeal that made Saint Laurent one of the most famous names in fashion.
The bows, rather symbolically, instead of unifying the collection, fought with other busy materials for attention.
Unflattering floppy Stetson hats capped it off.
Slimane took a gamble on the no-holds-barred approach to impress, but somehow fell short of the mark in his basic silhouette.
Many individual garments — like one sumptuous look with side a spread of black feathers — were highly creative.
But here the plumes' dynamic horizontal energy was drowned out by the bow.
Slimane pulled it off well when he wasn't trying too hard: A classy skinny menswear pant looked great with a sharp shouldered tuxedo — and a spot on merging of YSL and Slimane's own personal style.
Had he kept it cleaner, Slimane might not have given the upper hand so easily to his Dior rival.
The Chloe fashion house is celebrating its 60th birthday during Paris Fashion Week but its spring-summer 2013 show proved it's still as fresh as a daisy.
Designer Clare Waight Keller's collection takes its cue from founder Gaby Aghion's mantra: "I lived the life I wanted."
Chloe, founded in 1952, practically invented ready-to-wear in the first place and has always confidently led the way. That rebelliousness came out Monday in the clothes — strongly feminine and diaphanous but also structured with laser-cut edges in many large frills and ripples.
"I wanted a feminine spirit, but sharp...like a knife," Waight Keller said after the show.
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