Paris is all about superlatives: not just in terms of extravagant fashion flaunting, but also in terms of the stages and settings for the shows. A race to the top of the fashion weeks’ dizzying heights: at the Louvre (Louis Vuitton), at a rock stadium (Yves Saint Laurent), in a palais covered in lavender-coloured fake fur (Miu Miu), in space (Chanel).
Seven million people visit the Louvre every year. But it’s closed on Tuesdays. Every Tuesday. Except for the Tuesday in fashion week. When select guests are invited to take a seat under the famous glass pyramid and observe Nicolas Ghesquière’s fashionable interpretation of the coming winter at close quarters. Models filed past between the marble sculptures in casual cropped flares, and in furs combined with jeans whose denim was enhanced with wool to create a luxuriously soft high-end fabric. For the evening, there are high-gloss slip dresses with pleats, a few ruches and lace. Stark contrasts in red and black, blue and white, and brown and white, worn with low boots with uppers of varying lengths, polished to a high lacquer and guaranteed city wear.
Glamour isn’t far removed from madness. Indeed, if Miuccia Prada has her way, the two will be synonymous. At the art deco Palais d’Iéna by architect August Perret, the designer had everything – from the invitation to the benches, columns and banisters – covered in lavender-coloured, ruffled fake fur. And in this fluffy setting, she summoned an army to represent the genuinely stronger sex from all four corners of the globe. She wrapped them in psychedelic prints, glitter, knitted jumpers with huge shoulders, in plush coats with oversized collars and similarly sized baker’s caps and mittens. Dress for success is passé, dress for defence is the feminist Prada’s new credo for the fight for women’s rights.
Rag trees – on which people tie ribbons and scraps of cloth with their wishes and desires – are a fixture of the Celtic landscape of the United Kingdom, to which Sarah Burton feels a strong tie. On this occasion, the south – and specifically Cornwall – was the source of her inspiration. Which resulted in a youthful and carefree collection of fluttering dresses with ribbons, laces, threads and embroideries that are modelled on the flora and fauna of mediaeval tapestries. Bold red contrasts with grey, white and black undertones. Worn with flowing, completely untamed hair.
Pierpaolo Piccioli has decided to stick with long, flowing dresses. A-line, high-necked, long-sleeved, at least below-knee and far from figure-hugging, they are nevertheless flattering. Cream-coloured and hardly radical, they compensate for what they lack in colour with extremely detailed needlework, with sequins or artfully flowing panels of fabric, with lace appliqué and inserts, and delicate ruches. The finer the fabric and the dress, the more solid the shoes: flat laced boots with high uppers.
When Saint Laurent calls, everyone answers: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Eva Herzigova, Catherine Deneuve, and Pierre Bergé, co-founder and longstanding life partner of Yves Saint Laurent. Although there was a definite night club atmosphere at the shows under Hedi Slimane (Anthony Vaccarello’s predecessor as creative director), Vaccarello has turned up the volume even further for this winter: the runway show at the Saint Laurent headquarters had the same dimensions as a rock concert in a stadium. Steel constructions, austere seats, bare concrete, but no expenses spared for light and sound. The designer’s collection once again references the golden ’80s: fashion for hot nights and wild parties without the rude awakening. Bulging boots, ultra-short minis, sculptural sleeves and silhouettes, asymmetrical cuts. Even the few morning-after pieces are anything but commonplace.
Inside #pfw: Stairs, stars and sculptures.