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Why review Isabel Marant? In terms of new ideas, the show is fairly insignificant. Founded in 1994 by the now 48-year-old Marant, the contemporary line with the mid- to mid-high price-point range has evolved an unwavering sartorial signature in slubby, loose hopsack separates, folkloric embroidered tops, sexy leathers and whispy, thin-layered dresses that appear with only small variations each season.
For SS16, fashion’s global magpie had alighted in Rajasthan, where she had picked up bib-front embroidered coats and tasselled embroideries in black with little sequins. She had also picked up great baggy harem pants and layered print chiffon dresses. She had developed a fondness for yellow. Her wardrobe was spliced with silver accents — bold, silver astronaut’s pants and biker jackets, wide sequin cuffs on trouser legs and ruffled metallic minis. Played against a hip-hop soundtrack, and infused with nineties attitude, she paired the lot with a rope-detail shoe, all tied up in red or black. It was very pretty — and very predictable.
The fascination with Marant, however, is that the label represents such a significant proportion of the buyer’s budget. For many, Marant will be the biggest spend of the season — upwards of £500,000, according to one I spoke to, which makes it, commercially speaking, one of the most important shows of the season. (The other big buy, by all accounts, is Saint Laurent.)
Why is Marant is so bankable? Because, for all their bohemian expression and complicated trouser fastenings (of which there are infinite variety), her clothes are incredibly versatile. Marant is truly a lifestyle brand, a designer of clothes you can wear to the office, to the beach, on a weekend in the country, on the school run, for after-hours cocktails and in the boardroom. Isabel Marant almost always works. It’s reliable without being boring; sexy, without being showy. The designer has also found a magic formula for a wardrobe that retains a girlish joie de vivre for the under-25s but also delivers statement separates and trophy jackets for the over-forties. Women feel confident in her clothes: they don’t scream fashion, but they convey a certain sartorial nous that makes them feel at least they’ve made an effort.
Buying is a competitive business, and no one would speak to me on record about what their buy would be, but the pick of the shopping list followed thus: “commercially en point” embroidered, sequinned jackets and tops; Katharine Hamnett-style silk pants (a designer whose influence has been felt in many of the contemporary collections this season); miniskirts, minidresses and sequin leggings for the sexy girls; oversized gold parachute silk parkas; lots of summer coats; the tasselled earrings, hoops and belts; yellow silk.
The silk pant has been a big feature of the shows: in fact, few shows have been without them. Haider Ackermann and Kenzo, who also showed over the weekend, offered several more, and buyers are snapping them up.
As for the harem pants? Not so much. “We won’t be touching them,” admitted one buyer. “We don’t know who would buy them — except proper hippies.”
For more reports from the shows, go to our fashion weeks page on FT.com
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