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Designers Search for a Singular Denim Trend at Paris Fashion Week

The fashion gods in Paris spoke: the denim cycle will continue for Spring/Summer 2020. But how remains an open-ended question.

Paris Fashion Week was home to candy-colored denim sets, denim with a western twang and a surprising amount of ordinary designer denim, which New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman questioned in the face of a looming recession.

However, the back-to-basics jeans were pleasant to look at, serving as a palette cleanser from the heaps of deconstructed and often unwearable streetwear-inspired denim pieces that have dominated the runway in prior seasons.

Celine designer Hedi Slimane offered a minimalist take on ’60s and ’70s denim with a collection dense with vintage wash boot-cut jeans, culottes, denim jackets and button-down shirts. Skirts—in the form of a button-front midi and a patchwork peasant skirt—and embroidered denim culottes were among the boldest denim moments.

Notably, the designer merchandised the denim pieces with classics items that are in most wardrobes, like slim blazers, a collegiate sweatshirt and canvas sneakers.

Another candidate for most-sought designer jean was Givenchy. Designer Clare Waight Keller was inspired by New York City, ’90s denim and a “conscious future,” according to the show notes, which manifested into a range of upcycled vintage denim from the decade.

The collection included a two-tone double-breasted denim coat dress with leather-covered buttons, a long jean skirt with a center slit worn backwards, and a billowing tunic made with men’s shirting tucked into cutoff bleached jean shorts. The bleached effect was also used to create two-tone jeans and a denim midi skirt. Denim culottes prevailed as well, as a ripped-and-repaired option and as one with clean front seaming details. The collection was rounded out with collarless blazers, high neck blouses and leather tube tops.

Similarly, A.P.C. combined its chic Parisian roots with the laidback vibe of New York. Logo T-shirts and baseball caps were mixed with relaxed fit jeans and a button-front jean midi skirt. Head-to-toe denim looks included a fuss-free women’s denim flight suit and men’s light wash jeans and button-down shirt, cozily worn over a flannel shirt.

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Cool, classic denim—like a front slit midi skirt and acid wash-inspired jeans—grounded Stella McCartney’s collection, her first as part of the LVMH family. The collection was the designer’s most sustainable yet with more than 75 percent made from environmentally friendly materials. All of the denim pieces were made with 100 percent organic cotton.

In her second collection for Chanel, Virginie Viard presented tapered jeans and denim pedal pushers. Rows of white ruffles added volume to the label’s jean jackets with gathered sleeves.

And then there were designers like Balmain and Y/Project, which brought an element of fantasy to denim.

Inspired by his Y2K childhood, Balmain designer Olivier Rousteing took a break from embellished denim to experiment with color and washes. Yellow, pink, green and cobalt blue denim sets—i.e. high-waisted skinny jeans paired with either a cropped deconstructed Trucker jacket or a strong-shouldered denim blazer—paraded down the black-and-white runway. The designer also paired liquid silver leggings with an oversized double breasted denim blazer with a marbling effect.

Y/Project continued to play with denim by twisting seams and folding waistbands, but the pieces were balanced with high-shine taffeta suiting and satin jackets. An oversized jean jacket with distressed metallic gold coating bridged the brand’s dueling ideas.

Lutz Huelle also blended concepts by splicing a gabardine trench coat with a denim bodice. The designer’s collection played into Parisian romance with garments like a white jean jacket with a black tulle front yoke and a denim vest elongated with black polka-dot netting.

Other designers channeled the Southwest.

Chloe used desert colors to add a fresh flavor to ’70s-inspired high-waisted jeans. A light brown short sleeve jean jacket and wide leg jeans were defined by white contrast stitching, while rose-colored hardware offset a pair of terracotta trouser jeans.

And while Isabel Marant never strays away from her bohemian aesthetic, the designer doubled down on desert style with denim in shades of rusty orange, washed green and ecru.

Highlights included frayed cut-off shorts, slouchy boyfriend jeans, long-sleeve denim shirts, and ’80s-inspired jean jackets and vests with exaggerated shoulders. Marant even made oversized overalls look effortlessly chic over a pleated sleeve blouse.

The collection was pulled together with accoutrements destined for Joshua Tree weekends, like suede fringe handbags, tall moccasin boots and beaded belts.