Paris couture week reached a creative climax Wednesday with strong showings from Maison Margiela, Valentino and Elie Saab. Here are some of the highlights of the last of the fall-winter 2016 collections.
John Galliano continues to raise the profile of Maison Margiela. In Wednesday’s ever-creative show, the Gibraltar-born Briton went one step further in stamping the unique brand of Galliano Romanticism on the once-minimalist house. These styles and artistry have been sorely missed on the couture calendar ever since the designer was deposed from the creative helm of Christian Dior in 2011, when an anti-Semitic rant by him was captured on video. Abstractions based on Asian styles opened the show in a dropped wrap-around style Chinese red jacket with huge limp tubular arms.
It was, of course, worn with black stripper boots. But this is Galliano: the kinky boots, with purposeful irony, could well have been mistaken for a fisherman’s wading boots — a detail that parodied the note of sensuality with panache. Styles were eclectic, but held together by the sheer theatricality and exuberance of the soft lines of the silhouette.
The fashion industry’s model-of-the-moment, Anna Cleveland, was included in the fashion musing to no surprise, and was deservingly given one of the most archetypal looks. She prowled with signature dramatic confidence and an exaggerated look of horror down the runway in a Napoleonic hat, with a voluminous 19th-century coat. It prompted many a smile from the front row. Judging by the maison’s financial buoyancy since last year, the 55-year-old Galliano can proudly boast not only creative success in womenswear but a commercial one as well.
Grand Elizabethan chic with a twist was the style that Valentino’s lauded designers Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri produced for their — typically — magnanimous couture spectacular. Yet, much of the front row chatter centered on whether it would be newly bottle-blond Chiuri’s last collection for the storied house. There are ever-intense rumors that her name, among a few others, is on the shortlist to succeed Raf Simons at Christian Dior. The LVMH brand announcement is expected imminently. The Valentino show was specifically inspired by the bard William Shakespeare. It marked, in a couture way, the 400 years since his death. But in the process it also reminded spectators of the “intellectual” nature of the ever-artistic house, and most of all, the close relationship between the two arts of theater and clothes-making. White Renaissance ruffs and embellished fur petticoats were mixed with “Game of Thrones”-style perforated dramatic black warrior mini-dresses to define the immediate aesthetic. Criss-cross sleeves and gathered silken skirt then added to the on-theme bard-like imagery. Valentino’s designers do best when they stay in their tried-and-tested realm of 16th and 17th century goddesses. And this strong collection was a case in point.
Sonia Rykiel for Lancome
Lancome is paying tribute to fashion house Sonia Rykiel with a party to mark its new collaboration on a makeup brand. At the exclusive Ecole Superieure des Beaux Arts in Paris’ storied Left Bank, the Parisian cosmetic giant is hosting a celebrity-filled event called the Club Saint-Germain party. Award-winning film director Jacques Audiard, Spanish actress Adriana Ugarte and models including Coco Rocha are among the headlining VIPs. The event — with stunning and surprising scenography — features a live performance by three internationally-renowned music artists under the artistic direction of French artist Andre.
Elie Saab goes classic
Old-school Hollywood glamour was back in vogue at Elie Saab’s fall collection. It injected the fashion calendar with the most archetypally couture show seen all season. Saab, like other couture masters, plays with his own rulebook and need not pay heed to the wearable trends of the season. Split leg, floor length sensuality was the order of the day. A velvet royal blue evening gown was given a twist, with asymmetrical feather-like detailing at the shoulder and waist. It complemented a brooding palette of dark and often sheer materials with the signature Saab cinched-waisted hour glass vava-voom silhouettes.
One highlight was a mother and daughter couture ensemble in gray, modeled simultaneously. Flashes of Art Nouveau patterning were the season’s added ingredient, evoking the graphic sensuality of Gustav Klimt. The creative musing reached its climax in a traffic-stopping floor-length textured ball gown. It had fashion insiders reaching for their cameras with its blissful couture embroidering of thousands of blue and cream flowers.
Gaultier halos the face
Jean Paul Gaultier treated guests to a silken, sultry and fur-dripping couture display that oozed glamour. It was all about the one dramatic detail in his fall collection. The couture master’s leitmotif was the accentuation of models’ faces in cheek-bone hugging — and non-eco-friendly — circular halos, delivered in fur. Elsewhere, this one-detail style was carried through in jackets sporting ballooned peplums, accentuated shoulders or in gathered asymmetrical midriff detailing.
One show-stopping vermillion red fur coat in segments almost dripped off a model in a silk sheer floor-length skirt. Fashion’s once-named enfant terrible is, however, hard to pin down, and gowns of every color and material swept past celebrity guests.
Fendi models walk on water in Rome’s Trevi fountain
Shimmering models wearing the latest creations by Fendi appeared to walk on water Thursday at a fairytale show in Rome’s Trevi fountain to mark the luxury fashion house’s 90th anniversary. Above the sparkling waters of the Baroque fountain, models wearing hand-painted dresses in pale pink, blue and cream, adorned with hand-stitched flowers or starlit scenes, glided across a transparent catwalk in the basin. The soft, luxurious collection of 46 outfits was inspired by Danish fairytale illustrator Kay Nielsen, who painted color plates for the book Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen in 1924 and also later worked for Disney, including on sequences of the film Fantasia.
Glittering evening gowns with slits up the sides transformed their wearers into modern-day Hansel and Gretels, the reflection of lights scintillating in the turquoise waters echoing the shine of pebbles glinting in the moonlight in the fairytale. Dresses were nipped in at the waist or featured a bell skirt, the house’s trademark fur coat made an appearance in lynx, but what wowed the 200 exclusive guests was a patterned cape, in grey silk, which opened at both the front and back.
Bags looked like they were made of fur but were actually tiny pieces of silk, sown together to look like snakeskin. As the models, including Americans Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid, wound up their catwalk, designer Karl Largerfeld, wearing his trademark gloves, came out to take a bow along with the Italian house’s accessories designer Silvia Venturini Fendi.
Coins in the fountain
Reaching the middle of the glass bridge he threw three coins over his shoulder into the fountain with a grin—a tradition that is said to ensure a return to the eternal city. The fountain, made famous by a scene in Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” in which Anita Ekberg wades through its pristine waters, was restored last year in a clean-up funded by the fashion house, which first opened its doors in the capital in 1926. Commissioned by Pope Clement XII in 1730, it is the end point of one of the aqueducts that supplied ancient Rome with water.
The tradition of throwing coins into the fountain was made famous by Frank Sinatra’s rendition of “Three Coins in the Fountain” in the 1954 romantic comedy film of the same name. Fendi, now part of French luxury giant LVMH, said it wanted to capture the romance of the nearly 300-year-old monument, visited by millions of tourists every year, where tradition has it visitors can ensure eternal love by drinking its waters. For those not lucky enough to bag tickets to the show, the house was putting on a sumptuous dinner for 600 guests at in the city’s Villa Borghese park, decorated for the occasion with Roman fountains. As part of its anniversary celebrations, the fashion giant is also hosting an exhibition in the Square Colosseum, its headquarters in Rome, from July 9 to October 23. Entitled “Fendi Roma: The Artisans of Dreams”, the show explores the creative history of the Italian house through a video installation and drawings by Lagerfeld of his most prized creations.— Agencies