While Chanel reproduced a postcard-worthy image of Paris under the Grand Palais's canopy, Armani opted for the neoclassical style of the Italian embassy for its parade. Diary of the third day of a Paris Fashion Week that does not skimps on decorum.
With its prestigious programme, guaranteeing the presence of media and VIP guests the world over, Paris' 2018 Haute Couture Fashion Week (which took place from Sunday, July 1st to Wednesday, July 4th) is a magnet for brands of all stripes and colors, thanks to the unique visibility it offers.
This season, the program is looking a lot like a bag of candy, featuring events of assorted flavors and singular colors. Some melt in the palate, others are quickly swallowed to forget their pasty texture.
Tuesday July 3rd, 10 am: The Modern Parisian (according to Chanel)
The sun already shines bright on the canopy of Paris' Grand Palais, the monumental and historic home to many of Chanel's shows. This venue is one the fashion house has traditionally used to showcase its most daring sets (its rocket launchpad, the supermarket remodeling, its art gallery set, etc.). For the couture show, we arrive on a modest but recognizable false quai de Seine, with its booksellers, its dusty blacktop and the city's monuments in the backdrop. In this postcard-like Paris, the boot heels soon slam the floor, as the models begin their catwalk. They look far from cliché: bangs wrapped on a forehead, donning a flawless Chanel néotailleur whose sleeves and skirt unzip to reveal long gloves of skin, and a very mini miniskirt, all have allure and a peculiar rock-n-roll kind of chic. The figures are sharp and precise, from jackets with accented edges to supple dresses embroidered with abstract pixel motifs or crystals.
The metallic silhouettes (from feather-weight Lurex silk or thousands of crystalline micro-embroideries) weave skirts adorned with sailor's knots with sequined tank tops. Nothing is heavy or restraining in this set lightly tinted with 80s glamour. Panache and lightness are to be found in every piece, all the way into Chanel's bridal dresses: a soft green suit pairs delightfully with the model's electric smile, worn as though she were about to say her vows at the town hall.
Here, a brilliant version of the archetypal Parisian —a timeless source of fantasy the world over— is displayed: chic, free, seductive, willful, stubborn, even downright punk in spirit more than in outfit, naturally cool even in a more formal evening dress. It is more broadly the modern woman that is being depicted here, if a touch idealized: a modern version of Coco Chanel, eternal rebel. An embodiment also of the collection's author: Karl Lagerfeld, well versed in classical culture, allergic to literalism, and graced with a seriously unconventional personality.
For three decades, he has been manipulating the DNA of Chanel's style (tailor, tweed, black and white, beads, camellias, etc.) to invent anew, with, as with all creators, moments of grace accompagnied by the occasional blunders. This time around, the result is brilliant, modern, and ultra Chanel with this zipper suit. The zipper, which, zipped up and down according to the desires, age or anatomy of the customer, comes as a reminder that the fashion house is in fact, at its service: the essence of haute couture.
Tuesday, July 3, 5:30 pm: The black and gold opulence of Armani Privé
The Italian house has abandoned the usual rigour of the Palais de Chaillot (the label's traditional venue for its Parisian fashion show) in favor of the neoclassical style of the Hotel de Boisgelin, home to the Italian Embassy in Paris. On its clear parquet floors runs the pearl-lacquered path that the models will follow as they introduce an opulent and grandiloquent collection dominated by a duo of black and golden shades.
"Lamé" suits, textured checkerboard patterns, sheaths of fishnet and feathers, crystal-piqued ruffles, maxi-capes of pale pink feathers, overlays of black turquoise and fuchsia lace, mix of tulles and Champagne muslins... anything goes. Certain proportions, purely "Armanian", (wide trousers hems stopped high on the ankles, assortments of flowered tulles frustrating the perfect line of a bustier) create dissonant effects. But for Red Carpet goddesses and celebrities alike, this is most deinitely the place to come to for the most beautiful sheaths artfully carved in black velvet.
Tuesday, July 3, 7:30 p.m.: The feline vamps of Alexandre Vauthier
A French Couturier, independent, nourished by the glamorous and endangered culture of Thierry Mugler and Jean Paul Gaultier, Alexandre Vauthier is a bit of a UFO. Although, a friendly and talented UFO, always met with pleasure. Inside the nave of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, he ordered to build a maze of benches on a thick champagne carpet. Here, one can catch sight of the designer's ultra chic customers and fans, draped in leather mini-dresses and perched high atop jewel-adorned sandals.
Soon arrives material sure to elicit their wildest dreams: fluid and shouldered sheaths covered in colored crystals, perfect vamp dresses of printed tiger and panther patterns, highlighting sensual curved feline silhouettes. We aren't sure however of what to make of the cubic jackets worn with short pants elastified at the knees, or the more blurry outfits with plunging necklines evoking Spanish fashion, which seem to hesitate between Catholic rigor and seduction. That said, our attention has certainly been disturbed by boots augmented by puffed up gaiters which accomplished the amazing feat of tamping down the elongated silhouette of the lovely creatures strutting down the champagne-colored carpet.