PARIS– Cars snaked around blocks, dropping off scores of VIPs for Valentino’s ‘Black Tie’ show at Paris Fashion Week, while evening Parisian lights bathed the nearby Arc de Triomphe. Its designer Pierpaolo Piccioli has created a star-studded collection that deconstructs the suit amidst androgyny and fashion plays.
Meanwhile, at Lanvin, stars like Avril Lavigne sat under the Gothic-style arches to see the oldest couture house’s latest designs that subtly evoke history.
Here are some highlights from Sunday’s ready-to-wear displays.
VALENTINO’S BLACK TIE
Brooklyn Beckham and Nicole Peltz soaked up the photographers’ flashes at the ornate Hotel Salomon de Rothschild during the calm before the storm. Then, as 8pm approached, hordes of fashion insiders fought for their seats at one of the highly anticipated shows of the Paris season.
This fall, Piccioli captured the zeitgeist of the gender movement with a display that stripped down the suit – complete with black ties, punk flashes and gold earrings.
Sheer black blouses sported large white polka dots. A white shirt and black tie became an all-enveloping, floor-length gown. Countless feathers protruded deftly from a showy black and white striped coat of feathers.
Skinny black ties – the theme of the show – abounded, as did shots of the white shirt, which at times was reminiscent of Celine’s Hedi Slimane.
Yet monochromatic considerations have been handled subtly and balanced with on-trend, eye-catching pops of color – like a long citrine wool coat or an emerald green leather poncho jacket.
THE ART OF THE INVITATION
The e-mail age and increasing environmental awareness seem to have left little traces on the fashion industry’s antiquated invitation system. Season after season, gas-guzzling couriers criss-cross Paris to personally deliver elaborate, often hand-crafted, invitations – sometimes even for shows promoting eco-consciousness!
Top houses vie for the craziest or most imaginative idea, often with a nod to the runway collection’s theme.
Balenciaga’s invitation was a toile blazer against a plain background, which fashion insiders took to signal a new beginning for embattled designer Demna Gvasalia. Balenciaga apologized last year after harsh industry criticism of its child abuse papers and bondage bear ads. Gvasalia has told the media that he is now returning to his jacket-making roots, as that is where he started as a designer, and humbly acknowledges that fashion is not about ‘buzz’.
Givenchy sent a huge black patent leather handbag with the details of the show, which veered in a glamorous direction.
Was Chloe’s invitation box of designer Alain Ducasse cocoa chocolates designed to sweeten guests after a barrage of so-so reviews?
LANVIN IS SIMPLE
Allusions to the 1940s, 1980s, 18th-century, medieval and Renaissance mingled in the historical arcs of the 13th-century Parisian College of Bernardins. Yet despite these myriad styles, this fall-winter collection remained a pared-down affair — simply chic and intentionally devoid of embellishments and embellishments.
There were some nice touches. Studded polka dots adorning shirts, slit skirt suits and coats provided a lift. Elsewhere, a 1940s pink coat with dropped shoulders became a statement piece in textured pink. A black satin gown featured a diagonal dynamic that cleverly matched the angle of the stone arches in the decor behind.
The show’s simplicity belied Lanvin’s designer Bruno Sialelli’s inner passion. The house quoted the Swedish-American sculptor Claes Oldenburg, who died last year, as saying: “Making things What fun! And things that are made, go away!”
ALEXANDER MCQUEEN’S ORCHID
Designer Sarah Burton said she was drawn to the orchid, the leitmotif of her gothic-tinged fall collection for Alexander McQueen, because of its odd beauty and adaptability.
“It thrives in the air, resists rooting, and grows in the wild,” she said. “The orchid mimics both predator and prey.”
The anatomy of the orchid – and human flesh – has been dissected in this original exhibition, transforming the beauty of one of the world’s most common flowers into something almost menacing, sinister and provocative.
The inner orchid showed up as a puffy white image on the skirt of a black billowy Asian look. Viewed from above, the flower’s lips and pillar resembled a wild creature with its mouth open, ready to feed.
A raised torch-red scabbard had Giger-like tendrils twining around the chest and hips, reminiscent of the myriad orchid roots.
Front row stars Eddie Redmayne and Elle Fanning admired and applauded.