Best of: Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2017

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After a month-long trek through New York, London and Milan, the fall-winter fashion season has officially come to an end with a series of out-of-this-world collections in Paris. From Jun Takahashi’s latest mind-bending excursion at Undercover, to Demna Gvasalia’s celebration of Balenciaga’s long-standing heritage for craftsmanship and couture, this season’s designers sent out variations on bold femininity, merging chic eclecticism and fine-tuned creativity with the city’s awe-inspiring tendency for the avant-garde—the perfect ending to our fashion week recaps.

Here’s a look back at the best collections from Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2017.

1. Undercover

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At Undercover's latest show, Japanese designer Jun Takahashi showcased his theatrical side with a mesmerizing collection layered within a performance art piece—each level inspired by a different class of uniforms worn in an alternate society. From queens and aristocrats to clergy and workers, Takahashi's fantastical creations balanced over-the-top avant-gardism with wearable separates, and everything in between—including antique-inspired tool belts, accordion pleated skirts and Flying Nun hats perfect for a Sally Field's type. Inspired and beyond dramatic, this was one of those rare collections that could hold my attention from start to finish, especially when it came down to the everyday pieces like an envy-inducing layered puffer coat and decadent velvet dresses.

2. Alexander McQueen

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Another decadent show that continued to grab my attention (and my envy) was Sarah Burton's fall-winter collection for Alexander McQueen. Inspired by her childhood holidays in Cornwall and the rich Celtic history across the southwestern part of England, she evoked the ancient druids for a pagan celebration of details and craftsmanship. Complete with black leather fringe, raw gemstones and velvet dresses, this collection was a stunning collaboration between spirited embellishments and feather embroideries, sheer gowns and bohemian silhouettes—each look fit for a playful yet powerful goddess set firmly within the realm of McQueen.

3. Off-White

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Creative director Virgil Abloh might be known for his street wears via his Milan-based label Off-White, but for his fall-winter collection he decided to change that up a bit—instead opting to introduce neat, tailored look. This latest collection marks a real milestone for the creative director and his label; not only can he do the streetwear look, but he can also reinvent his designs for a more sophisticated clientele. That said, though this season's woman might be a couple years older, she's not about to let that change her wardrobe into work-wear exclusive: Abloh's fall-winter collection explored street denim options while balancing romantic chiffon and menswear inspired tailored plaids—this was Gigi Hadid, off-hours and effortlessly sartorial.

4. Dries Van Noten

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With one look at Dries Van Noten's lush floral prints, or his easy silhouettes, it's understandable why the fashion industry adores this Antwerp-based designer so much; and it's that love that has brought him this far—to his 100th runway show. For this landmark fall-winter collection, Van Noten merged his men and women's offerings for a lineup filled with bold geometric shapes, oversized androgynous looks and the latest variations of his classic prints. But all this fell short of the main attraction: Looking back to his first runway shows decades ago, Van Noten sent out his latest seasonal garb on the models that walked with him back-when—and they looked just as fabulous now as they did then, appearing in blazers or quilted coats, turtlenecks or day dresses, faded blue denim or white rolled-up jeans. Cheers to the next 100!

5. Balenciaga

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Coinciding with the opening of an exhibition at the Musée Bourdelle to commemorate all of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s most iconic works in black, creative director Demna Gvasalia revisited the past for a fall-winter collection filled with 1950s-inspired silhouettes, voluminous couture craftsmanship and ready-to-wear sensibility. In an explicitly modern maneuver, Gvasalia paid homage to the late founder through a masterful showcase of proportion and distortion—each look familiar yet entirely revised (yet still marking a major departure from his overly boxy silhouettes from past seasons).

With men’s checkered fabrics, sheared minks, black leathers, delicate floral prints and enviable oversized jackets, this was a utilitarian lineup at its core, before morphing into the exaggerated shapes of his couture interpretations—each a voluptuous look to perfectly represent this designer’s balance of brand heritage and personal aesthetics. (And an easy all-time favorite collection from one of the industry’s most talked-about designers.)

Brent Taalur Ramsey is an American writer living in Paris.

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