Friday, January 1, 2010

Paris Fashion Week forecasts a hip spring

Violet Boutique follows the French with wide-leg jeans and body-hugging dresses. the owner of and sole buyer for a hip, high-end clothing boutique, Genevieve Allen needs to stay seasons ahead of the trend curve. That’s why twice a year she heads to France for Paris Fashion Week.

In addition to sourcing up-and-coming indie labels that few other Vancouver stores will be carrying, she makes a point of checking out what Parisian women are wearing. This past October was no exception; she touched down in the fashion capital a few days before the trade-show madness began.

“I usually like to do a lot of people-watching,” says Allen, who sat down with the Straight at her chic year-old clothing store, Violet Boutique (3012 Granville Street). “So it’s great if I can get there a couple of days early because I can sort of see what’s going on. And right now there’s a lot of really wonderful casual wear. That’s what I really love about the way Frenchwomen dress. I mean, they’re not always super dressed up, but even when they’re just going to the grocery store, they still look really put together.”

And they’re put together for better or for worse. During her last trip, Allen noticed a lot of women sporting—brace yourself—shit catchers. Amazingly, it wasn’t just the cutting-edge fashionistas who were busting out these MC Hammer specials.

“They’re all wearing them there, and it makes you feel like, ‘Okay, I should be wearing these too,’ ” she says. “Like, everyday women are rocking them, and they’re wearing them with big chunky heels and little fur vests.”

But as Allen has learned from experience, not every Parisian trend makes its way across the Atlantic. While she will be carrying a few select pairs, Allen isn’t banking on drop-crotch pants becoming the must-have item for the average Vancouver woman.

However, she does predict that more and more of us will turn to wide-leg jeans this spring and beyond, not as a substitute for skinnies, mind you (those will be here for a while), but as an addition to our denim collection. Her faves for this season are MiH’s Loon jeans, which she’ll be selling at Violet for $250 to $300.

To counteract the bottom-heavy pant legs, Allen recommends pairing them with a fitted, tucked-in blouse. However, since wide-leg jeans are generally higher-waisted than other cuts, Allen warns of one notable side effect to these sailor-inspired bad boys: “They can give you long bum, which is not good.”

But don’t let that scare you off. There’s a simple solution: untuck your top and belt it up.

Another trend seen on her Parisian buying trips is jewel tones. Nothing new here—after all, every fall for the last few years, we’ve been inundated with teals and burgundies. But what’s different this time around is that we’ll be seeing these pumped-up colours in spring. With that in mind, Allen picked up a silk strapless dress in fuchsia by Les Petites for her store ($350 to $400).

When it comes to dress styles, say goodbye to A-lines. Allen says this coming year will be more about body-hugging, feminine, 1940s-inspired cuts. She also sees a lot of whimsical patterns in our future. And she’s got just the quasi-quirky, figure-flattering frocks to prove it.

Starting at the end of January, she’ll be selling some sweet little numbers, including Rachel Comey’s oyster-print silk bias-cut, which comes with a brown leather belt (about $500). And if you want to do as the French do, Allen suggests juxtaposing these dainty dresses with some tougher-looking boots (think Fryes).

Of course, if you really want to capture that je ne sais quoi Frenchwomen have, you can’t look like you tried too hard. Over there, it’s all about making it look effortless.

“They look like they just got out of bed,” Allen says, adding, “but they still look good.”