Last updated: March 9, 2012 10:56 pm

A sense of proportion

The autumn/winter 2012 women’s wear trends at Paris fashion week

Supersize me

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Vanessa Friedman

Is big always better? In Paris, for autumn/winter, the answer appeared to be yes, as shoulders bulked up and arms curved out, proportions took on extra volume and backs blousoned. Coats and jackets came larger-than-life, and trousers two legs wide on each side. Unlike the last time such padding was in fashion, however, which is to say the 1980s, this time around the curves are softer and less angular; there’s an element of protection to the upsizing – you can take refuge inside. There’s some intimidation factor, sure (my coat is bigger then yours!), but generally it seems to be about swaddling more than swaggering. Just make sure you lessen the clown factor by contrasting the big yin with some narrow yang: skinny trousers, or an easy top. Balance in all things, even fashion.

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Pleats please

autumn/winter 2012 women’s wear trends at Paris fashion week©Catwalking

From left: Christian Dior, John Galliano, Maison Martin Margiela, Sonia Rykiel, Yohji Yamamoto

Issey Miyake said it first, but this season a large number of his fellow fashionistas have seconded the motion. From traditional three-quarter-length pleats in a silk skirt, to two-tone versions with contrasting fabrics within and without that create a peekaboo game as you move, to three-dimensional origami-like versions, from knife-edge to fan-tastic and accordion, fold and fold again was a theme song of designer inspiration. Some techniques are perennial in their appeal, which has nothing to do with being, or looking, old-fashioned. Play it up or down, the swish as you walk makes a certain sartorial music all its own.

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Waisted time

Womenswear at Paris Fashion week©Catwalking

From left: Yves Saint Laurent, Roland Mouret, Dries Van Noten, Jean Paul Gaultier

The silhouette of the season is the hourglass, but not the bombshell kind – the tailored kind. Achieved via a long, angular jacket belted at the waist, it turns the body into a pair of triangles balanced mythically on their apex and conveys a strength and power and aerodynamic line. Think of it as shape without effort; a functional solution that’s men’s wear-inspired but not remotely masculine – or even necessarily a suit (though on occasion it can be) but, rather, a modern alternative that creates the same seriousness of purpose in the vernacular of the feminine form. Waist not, want not.

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