Highlights of Paris Couture Week
Fashion designers showcased their haute couture 2018 collections in the Paris this week. Black and white dominated the catwalks of Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier, Elie Saab chose a “Roaring Twenties” theme, while Armani vied for attention with pastel gowns.
Dior designer Maria Grazia Chiuri channeled surrealism for her predominantly black-and-white Dior show that brimmed with optical illusion and surprise. Chess board squares led around a mirrored runway adorned with hanging plaster sculptures.
A series of A-line “domino” coats and gloves attached to an ankle set the tone for styles that were inspired by touchstones from the early 20th century artistic movement. Gowns with visible caging a surrealist leitmotif played on transparencies. Eyes, a frequent reference for Salvador Dali, were emphasized by masks and exaggerated makeup.
Jean Paul Gaultier
Jean Paul Gaultier presented a couture show paying tribute to French fashion icon Pierre Cardin.
Delivered against a swirling, psychedelic backdrop, bold black and white dominated the energetic styles that were punctuated with bright flashes of retro color. Gaultier boldly explored the graphic avant-garde designs that made Cardin a global name.
A circular black and white striped dress in silk crepe that captured the 95-year-old’s signature Space Age vibe led down to theatrical tights: one white, one black. Then the bubble dress, a Cardin invention, was evoked reverentially in a bi-color gown with double-face crepe that was cut into strips on the skirt. Cardin’s designs were often used as creative starting points, Gaultier made sure the 51 looks never felt like an archival check list.
Iris Van Herpen
Iris Van Herpen deftly captured the beauty and fragility of nature in a sublime couture display.
The decor of baroque-like swirls of fabric led the eye to the collection of 21 vibrant gowns that riffed on the organic. While she abandoned none of the abstract musing that has won her critical acclaim, the Dutch conceptual designer evolved this season’s styles in a more wearable direction. Abstract foliage in aqua green, held together from a nude bodice, looked remarkably like it was fused with the model’s body, while a cascading silver gown played on watery transparencies and resembled a jelly fish with stripes and dots.
Even a fashion master can have off days.
Tuesday was a mixed couture bag for Giorgio Armani, who explored the theme of watercolor in an exhaustive collection of shimmering pastel gowns that combined too many divergent ideas.
Armani’s best looks kept it simple.
A minimalist satin bodice in oyster led the eye to a dramatic whoosh of silk spilling from the waist. But elsewhere, some looks‚ though beautifully constructed‚ saw a complicated silhouette and busy patterns vying for attention.
Nevertheless, it was a hit for celebrities such as Marion Cotillard and Isabelle Huppert, who applauded vigorously from the front row.
To brash Jazz music worthy of a party hosted by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Lebanese designer Elie Saab put on his dancing shoes for an exuberant ode to the Roaring Twenties.
Paris, “the city of love, the city of sin,” was the setting, as models in column silhouettes slinked provocatively down a gilded stone staircase and on to the catwalk.
It wasn’t just the music that was attention-grabbing.
Giant neck bows, embellished cloche hats, capes, split legs and plunging necklines came alongside cinched waists. Mini-skirts on models were richly adorned in sequins and ostrich feathers.
The strongest part of the 54-design collection was Saab’s exploration of the Art Deco styles popular in the post-World War I era. One black gown with structured silver and gold accents got its power from the simplicity of its silhouette. Sometimes, less is more.