Paule Ka Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear Paris Fashion Week
A cliff-like perch within the grand greenhouse of the Jardin des Plantes afforded a panoramic view of Alithia Spuri-Zampetti’s latest collection for Paule Ka—and what a confident, vibrant, enticing vision it was. In just over a year, this former head designer of womenswear at Lanvin has breathed new life into a go-to Paris label that had been suffering from a prolonged case of monotony. This season, each look—some on models, many more on invisible molded forms—emerged from the lush tropical scene like an indigenous species. A raw-edged floral jacquard was tacked with delicate hand-cut petals. The designer likened the gradient hand-dyed draped gowns to exotic birds, noting how their watery hues corresponded to the pond above which they were stationed.
Much of the collection was inspired by Japan, where Spuri-Zampetti traveled this summer, fulfilling a longtime dream. Rather than fetishizing the kimono, judo uniforms, or origami, she drew from these ideas—the construction of a sleeve, a wraparound waist, engineered striped pleating—and parlayed them onto feminine silhouettes that were familiar to the brand. Streamlined suiting was often distinguished by waist cinching that hybridized a judo belt and the beloved Paule Ka bow. If this masculine influence suggested a departure, Spuri-Zampetti said she was pleasantly surprised to learn that house founder Serge Cajfinger’s first collections over 30 years ago consisted of reworked blazers and tailoring. The best discovery, however, was the group of dresses in which she grafted sporty knitwear tops with fluid or bell skirts. The bronze ones under the fig trees really shone.