Altuzarra, Dries Van Noten and Andew Gn Dial Down the Sparkle for Fall

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Proving that when you've seen it everywhere, it's time to move on.

All throughout awards season, red carpet looks have been swimming in sequins, including the leggy black-and-silver sequin high-low Halpern gown worn by Marion Cotillard at the Cesars, or French Oscars, on Friday night in Paris. Sequins have so overtaken fashion, that they’ve become acceptable daytime attire, worn to the office and sold at the Gap.

Which may be why designers at Paris Fashion Week are attempting to move on from the last few seasons’ sparkle parade to something that’s more decoratively distinct.

Belgian designer Dries Van Noten, who loves sparkle as much as anyone (Lurex knits and sequin-embroidered bomber jackets have been a mainstay of his for a couple of seasons), turned his focus to Art Brut, or outsider art, showing hand-drawn prints that look almost like swirling black-and-white doodles on parkas, wide-leg pants, bias-cut skirts and even boots, creating a matchy-matchy total look on some outfits.

He used marabou feathers to embellish the edge of a wrap skirt or encircle a dress, and fashioned handfuls of feathers as simple brooches on tailored coats and jackets. Van Noten also nodded to the season’s love of athleisure with sweatpants, anoraks and sporty faux furs. It all added up to a fresh-looking, offbeat beauty that wasn't so sparkle in your face.

Although not necessarily a household name like Chanel and Dior, Andrew Gn has been a red carpet favorite with Hollywood stars such as Jessica Chastain and Sarah Paulson for going on two decades now. For fall, he took his signature ladylike glam in a quaint, arts and crafts direction, using folkloric embroidery and bouquet beading on black crepe coats, A-line dresses and gowns, which were trimmed with eyelet ruffles and grosgrain ribbon.

The motif carried over into sweet sweaters and culottes for a casual look worn with stretch velvet boots, while Gn’s platinum-filigree-embroidered pleated dress was all silver screen goddess. The collection had a naive charm that felt like a welcome palette cleanser.

Meanwhile, American designer Joseph Altuzarra took over the famous 1920s-era Montparnasse brasserie La Coupole for his show Saturday afternoon, explaining that it was an homage to the friends and family he grew up with in Paris in the 1980s who helped him get to the point he is now, celebrating his soon-to-be 10-year-old brand. 

The designer, who was showing in Paris for the second time after defecting from New York Fashion Week, wrote in the show notes that he was inspired by his mother, the women he works with and models he remembers seeing in fashion magazines growing up.

The result is a collection that feels very commercial, from tailored menswear-inspired vests and jackets embellished with decorative rows of buttons, worn over cropped trousers; to smocked floral dresses with silver ring embroidery that hug the curves. And the new "Kiss" bag, comprising multiple coin pouches with kiss locks, is as irresistible as the cute little boxes of cake that were given out as parting gifts. Simple, yes, but also simply chic.

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