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, modelled 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.