Paris fashion week, much like this post, feels long and winding. So buckle in and let’s get started.

DRIES VAN NOTEN

Dries van Noten claimed that inspiration for this show came while conducting research for his upcoming retrospective at the Museé des Arts Décoratifs. His research apparently led him towards historic flower prints, specifically those worn by men. Usually when confronted with Spring florals I will roll my eyes and quote Miranda Priestly, but Dries van Noten’s florals are one of his many constant strengths. Going by his cited inspiration alone one would think that the collection was comprised of entirely of florals, but that was not the case. The florals were just one of many different motifs the designer effortlessly integrated into his collection. It would be tiresome and perhaps useless to pinpoint every specific motif or to speculate over other possible inspirations, as the collection includes a wide range of fabrics, prints, and cuts. Incorporating such an array of elements might prove to create a stuffy or incomprehensible collection, but in the hands of Dries van Noten it becomes effortless and cohesive.

What I liked:

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The unusual details on this dress.

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A beautifully embroidered bomber jacket.

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When bunched up fabric looks this elegant.

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Flowers replicated in fabric.

What I didn’t like:

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When Dries van Noten overdoes it a bit.

GARETH PUGH

Pugh himself admitted that with this collection he aimed to play against what people expect from him, namely dark tones and latex. In the last few seasons he has softened and focused his vision somewhat, and this collection shows a dramatic turn from his usual fare. The opening look was in seemingly out of place teal and mauve, and from then on white and silver made more appearances than the usual black and gray. Looking back at Pugh’s previous collections one can clearly see that this is much more accessible than most. It looks like he’s been making the move to more commercial clothing the past few years, and it is quite possible that he may have done it this time. It was the most colorful and marketable collection Pugh has created to date, and that’s not a bad thing. The clothes remain true to Pugh’s aesthetic, playing with form and volume, while being quite wearable.

What I liked:

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Beautiful draping and colors.

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Fabric that looks liquid.

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Clothing straight out of a sci-fi movie.

What I didn’t like:

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That this is incredibly boring.

UNDERCOVER

Takahashi’s streetwear-inspired collection seemed to carry feelings of disgust towards the streetwear crowd, at least to my eyes. Streetwear friendly shirts were emblazoned with palindromes and anagrams like “snug” and “guns,” “rat” and “art,” and all those little word games everyone thought were revelatory in grade school. Maybe Takahashi is trying to say something about the distortion inherent in today’s logo-obsessed fashion crowd, or the eventual meaninglessness created by too many fashion voices shouting over each other at the same time. Or maybe he’s pandering to them. Either way, it made for an interesting collection.

What I liked:

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The combination of textures on this jacket.

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Transparent coats.

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Harnesses and chainmail pants.

What I didn’t like:

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That something so boring made an appearance.

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These uncomfortable looking belts.

BALENCIAGA

I like Alexander Wang, and I really wanted to root for him as Balenciaga’s head designer but this collection makes it hard. Following Ghesquière’s often genius-level work for the house is an admittedly difficult job, but there’s no excuse for creating something this dull. The collection looked like a slightly more architectonic version of Wang’s work for his own namesake label. Maybe I’m just still upset about Ghesquière, but I feel like this collection was disappointing regardless.

What I liked:

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Well-structured jackets.

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Crisp fabrics and beautiful tailoring.

What I didn’t like:

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Why is something so painfully dull on a Balenciaga runway?

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That these pants will look ridiculous on anyone who isn’t model height.

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A number of bad ideas piled on top of each other.

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When models unintentionally look like ugly wedding cakes.

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The combination of terrible tailoring and unappealing fabric.

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That Alexander Wang thinks he can fix a sloppy dress by throwing a sheer overlay on it.

ANN DEMEULEMEESTER

Demeulemeester’s work has always given me a witchy vibe, but it was noticeably intensified with this collection. Maybe because it’s October and my mind is stuck in Halloween mode, but this collection feels like it was made for the chic city-dwelling witch. Demeulemeester’s wonderful use of layering makes the clothes look calculated yet effortless. Put together with just a hint of carelessness.

What I liked:

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Perfectly combined lengths.

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Unexpected layering.

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That so many different patterns can look great together.

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The effect created by combining fabrics with different opacities.

What I disliked:

Nothing.

RICK OWENS

I could sit here and talk about the seamless fusion of high fashion and athleticwear Rick Owens created, but this collection was never really about the clothes. Rick Owens created a collection that was all about the runway, namely, about pointing out everything that is wrong with fashion runways, and why the fashion world’s assumptions of what should happen on a runway are undeniably incorrect. Owens invited real athletes to model his more-athletic-than-usual collection, and together they created the most important presentation in recent memory. It was a runway of talented young women raising a triumphant middle finger to the white-centric, slim-tall-body-obsessed fashion elite. The more I keep writing the less impact it will have, so just watch.

 

LANVIN

Lamé made a strong appearance at Lanvin, which some might consider an odd choice but this is Alber Elbaz. He could make pleather look good. The collection was your typical Lanvin showing, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Lanvin is probably one of the most interesting French design houses around, capable of turning out similar yet consistently exciting collections each year. This season Elbaz decided to take on a fabric with potentially trashy connotations but he pulled it off in his usual wonderful manner. Silhouettes were varied, ranging from the 1920’s to smoking jackets to jumpsuits. Many looks were topped off with Lanvin’s always signature costume jewelry, and some models carried what look like luxurious little trash bags, perhaps poking fun at conceptions of Elbaz’s star fabric.

What I liked:

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Dresses made of molten metal.

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When Lanvin makes a more interesting tweed than Chanel.

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Modern flapper dresses.

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Chameleon-like fabrics.

What I didn’t like:

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 This out of place skirt and jacket.

DIOR

It seems like Raf Simons has decided to get bolder in his work for Dior, injecting clothes with more than a hint of experimentation. The results are interesting, but I’m still not sure whether I like them or not. I might in a month or two, but right now I’m not particularly moved. Simons combined Dior’s tendencies with some of his own, which resulted in varied amounts of success. For example, his decision to play with fabric created some beautiful dresses, but his decision to incorporate slogans ruined some potentially great pieces. Overall, it was a mixed bag which I’m sure I’ll be seeing in innumerable editorials soon.

What I liked:

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A crisp and simple dress.

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A skirt that looks like vapor.

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When a pop of color makes this much of an impact.

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The movement in this dress.

What I didn’t like:

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These needless slogans.

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What’s with the patches and prep school feel?

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Nauseating color combinations.

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That this dress looks like it’s oozing something disgusting.

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Dresses that are too common to be on a Dior runway.

MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA

I found this collection disappointing, not because it was bad, but because I felt no sense of excitement while watching. Margiela is a brand that usually has me fist pumping the air but nothing like that happened during this show. Maybe I just need to give the collection some time to grow on me, after all I once detested Spring 2012 and now I’m a shameless defender. But truthfully, I do not think that will happen. This collection explored the masculine / feminine divide in fashion, something Margiela has done innumerable times. They threw in some showgirl references this time around but they never amounted to being interesting in concept, they were just interesting to look at. This collection is not terrible by any means, but it lacks the thoughtfulness I’ve come to expect from the Maison.

What I liked:

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Pants that look like peeking underwear.

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Layering a corset and half a dress over a very casual outfit.

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Beautiful embellishment.

What I didn’t like

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Boring clothes that don’t say anything.

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That there’s an embellished corset on here, and this outfit still looks bland.

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Good ideas with sloppy execution.

YOHJI YAMAMOTO

I am at a bit of a loss on as to what I should say about this collection. It’s simply classic Yamamoto deconstructive tailoring on a number of different garments. The one notable difference was the inclusion of fluorescent fabrics. While I personally dislike them on the simple basis that neon makes me nauseous, their incorporation was notable. Yamamoto made his mark by reacting against the brightly colored garments during his 1981 Paris debut with his now trademark black, so seeing day glo come down the runway seemed almost like an assertion of victory on Yamamoto’s part.

What I liked:

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Beautifully draped blazers.

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Effortless deconstruction.

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An interesting suit.

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Same here.

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Dresses that glide over the body.

What I didn’t like:

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That I could never wear this or get close to it without feeling queasy.

JUNYA WATANABE

Hippies, potheads, desert music festivals, and unwashed hair are all within my top 20 least favorite things list. Watanabe somehow took all of those and created something  I adore out of them. There is possibly some historic reference within the show, as it was staged within the Museum of Natural History, but as someone who lives in a state full of pothead hippies those connotations are fresh in my mind.

What I liked:

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That Watanabe can make fringing look good, and studded shoes that don’t look contrived.

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Watanabe’s biker jackets.

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When exaggerated proportions are done right.

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Intricate knots.

What I disliked:

Nothing.

HAIDER ACKERMANN

Ackermann is one of those designers who consistently puts out variations on the same vision, but I don’t think there is any need for him to change anything as his vision is already strong and identifiable as it is. If Ackermann ever stops creating layered masculine cuts I will stage a revolt.

What I liked:

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Beautiful colors and delicate layering.

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Effortless draping and deep hues.

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When wearing a dress over pants looks this good.

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These shimmering fabrics.

What I didn’t like:

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This is so dull.

COMME DES GARÇONS

I’ve heard a lot of complaints against this collection, which makes sense since these aren’t clothes in the traditional sense. Apparently Rei Kawakubo set out to deliberately create a collection of objects, not clothes. Thus, the garments are objects designed independently of the body, not ones that are created around the traditional utilitarian need for clothing. There could be many different things said about this collection, like whether it is a purer form of fashion as it’s free from the constraints of necessity, or whether it could be considered fashion at all. Those arguments make for interesting thoughts, but probably won’t do anything to change your mind on the collection itself. Personally, I love it. But for all of the academic writing and analysis, fashion is still a very subjective thing, so I realize that lots of people won’t like this. It’s one thing to rationalize and understand a concept, while finding it appealing or applicable to your own individual experience of truth is something completely different. It’s possible to understand a concept completely yet still find it useless or irrelevant to your experience. But if you’re one of those who don’t like this, I’m probably going to laugh at you because I now have a better chance of snatching these up when on sale.

What I liked:

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A dress assembled from panels.

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Whatever this is.

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This self-defeating crinoline-like contraption.

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An oddly unnerving dress.

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A dress that turns you into a storm cloud.

What I didn’t like:

Nothing. This was too bizarre of a collection for me not to like it.

CÉLINE

It’s odd to see the harbinger of second-wave minimalism create such an extravagant collection. This might upset some Phoebe Philo fans, as she has gained herself a following based on her simple, elegant designs for the hardworking woman. The clothes were full of patterns, embellishments, layers, and vibrant colors, things that would not necessarily come to mind when thinking of  Philo’s Céline. It is perhaps a testament to Philo’s creative prowess that she made the decision to create a wildly different vision and stick with it. She made a bold move that could alienate some of her fanbase, but it seems to have paid off handsomely for now.

What I liked:

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Vivid prints.

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A beautifully cut coat.

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An elaborately draped skirt.

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Interesting textures.

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All of these elaborate touches.

What I didn’t like:

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This strangely placed sweater.

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Fabrics that remind me of hospital wallpaper.

GIVENCHY

I am very happy to see that Ricardo Tisci finally created a collection that did not rely on streetwear appeal. This looks like the old Tisci who actually designed clothes, not logos. The collection had no Disney characters, emblazoned sweatshirts, or garish prints. Instead Tisci sent out expertly tailored garments, elaborate draping, and beautiful jersey dresses. I hope Tisci continues with this kind of showing instead of reverting back to his recent hype-fueled collections.

What I liked:

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This cloth harness detailing.

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The elaborate cut on this jacket.

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The draping on this dress.

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This pleated coat.

What I didn’t like:

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Meh.

SAINT LAURENT

I really dislike Hedi Slimane. So it’s no surprise that I dislike this collection. Honestly, I have no idea why anyone would like this. Maybe I’d hate it slightly less if it was made under a different label, but this is another offense against the Yves Saint Laurent name. Once again Slimane sought inspiration from Los Angeles, and modeled his clothes for young Californian rockers stuck in the past instead of the Yves Saint Laurent clientele. The clothes were not luxurious or original by any means. They look like a selection of Nasty Gal rags and old 70’s reject garments from Goodwill.

What I liked:

Nothing.

What I disliked:

Everything, especially this atrocity:

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CHANEL

Karl Lagerfeld looked to the art world for inspiration, and I do not understand why it’s considered so interesting. Lots of designers have looked to painting, sculpture, architecture, and other parts of the art realm for inspiration before. Maybe it’s because, you know, Chanel. The relationship between art and fashion is hotly debated within both the art and fashion worlds (which may or may not be as separate or as close as you’d think), and any collection with art references always adds fuel to the fire. The art and fashion debate is not as easy as saying that fashion is or isn’t art, it’s a much more complicated and longwinded problem. Personally, I feel that fashion and art often overlap and that the work of many designers could be considered “art.” However, I’m not about to get into that debate, I am just here to point out that this is the sort of collection that tends to start up that conversation once again. In terms of the actual clothes I was a bit let down. Lagerfeld’s showing at Fendi was much stronger than this one. A show that revs up the incessant art and fashion debate should at least be a little more interesting. Otherwise, it just feels anticlimactic.

What I liked:

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The Chanel suit, simplified.

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A simple yet stunning outfit.

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How the fabric and cut together give this dress a striking effect.

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Cool tailoring and a fabric reminiscent of canvas.

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This smoke-like skirt.

What I didn’t like:

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An obnoxiously sticky-sweet outfit.

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This is an 89 look collection. Why wasn’t this edited out?

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That this reminds me of House of Holland.

ALEXANDER MCQUEEN

It honestly just painted me to write “Alexander McQueen” because I am extremely familiar with McQueen’s work, and I know that he would never be capable of making something this terrible. Sarah Burton referenced things that I would usually consider to be cool starting points, like Amazons, bondage, warriors, possibly robots, and managed to make them the opposite of interesting. I don’t know why people still defend Burton. Sure, she worked well with McQueen while he was still around, but now that he’s gone her biggest claim to fame has been a boring wedding dress. All the collections she has made to dave have recycled the same silhouettes and consistently lack the sense of poetry and narrative McQueen used to create.

What I liked:

Nothing.

What I disliked:

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Cheap looking messes.

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This is making me dizzy.

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That this is making it worse.

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What exactly am I looking at here?

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This useless silhouette that Sarah Burton always hints at, possibly because she thinks that it references McQueen’s habit of playing with and manipulating the female form into different and alternate yet still inherently feminine shapes. Truth is, sticking bloated, needless shit over hips and bust is not playing with or manipulating anything. It just looks damn terrible and is frankly an insult to the house’s creator.

I could keep posting, but I’m not going to you have all seen enough.

LOUIS VUITTON

This was Marc Jacobs’ last collection for Vuitton, and I’m not sure I’m sad to see him go. I am not saying that he is a bad designer, I just think that his past few collections for Vuitton have been somewhat sub par. That’s just what happens when you keep expanding your fashion empire. Hopefully now that he has LV off his back he can go back to creating wonderful clothes for his namesake labels. What I found most impressive about this collection was the runway. It combined all of Jacobs’ most iconic settings all in one creating an incredible and winding set, all in black. Clothing-wise, I found it a bit confusing. The overbearing showgirl reference felt strange to me and many outfits looked overdesigned. However, I did like that they were mostly black, even if they did blend in with the set at times.

What I liked:

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A simple dress made interesting with cutouts.

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Detailed biker jackets and a casual yet still interesting skirt.

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A delicate top that still looks pretty when combined with those terrible pants.

What I didn’t like:

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Jeans under a dress.

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Strange proportions even models can’t pull off.

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Every single thing about this.

That’s it for Paris fashion week, and for me. This was my last post as an intern at 303. See you all around the internet.

Don’t miss the ’13 fall Denver Fashion Weekend on November 9 + 10 – buy tickets HERE.

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