Lady Gaga checks out the Alexander Wang for Balenciaga fashion show in Paris.(Ian Langsdon / EPA)
The fashion flock migrated to tony Paris suburb Neuilly Sur Seine on Wednesday morning for Louis Vuitton, the last blockbuster show of Paris Fashion Week.
It was held at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, the silvery sail of a building constructed by architect Frank Gehry to house LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault’s art collection, and opened last year.
But rather than having the show inside, like it was last season, three geodesic domes were erected outside. When guests walked up the staircases into the glass pods, it was like boarding a spaceship.
Artistic director Nicolas Ghesquiere, a self described sci-fi enthusiast, loves a good cinematic set (remember last season’s talking faces?). And there was an impressive celebrity front row (Kim and Kanye, Selena Gomez, Michelle Williams and more). But the big focus here was on real clothes.
If the last two seasons at Vuitton were about establishing Ghesquiere’s time-traveling vision for the brand, this was about getting down to the nitty gritty of selling product, even logo T-shirts with a new house graphic, that were kind a fabulous in an outre way.
Ghesquiere opened big, with models in bushy white fur coats looking like explorers out of the frozen north, walking the interconnected pod rooms, with hefty, metallic cases in hand.
The cases are the season’s supersized counterparts to the popular petite malle mini trunk handbags that have been a hit since Ghesquiere’s first season. The hand luggage—which came in everything from a futuristic-looking ice-cube textured chrome to traditional Vuitton epi leather--was inspired by archival pieces, including vanity cases and trunks created by Vuitton for the “Croisiere Jaune,” a famous Citroen automobile expedition in the early 1930s from Beirut to Beijing.
The same mix of beauty and utility, femininity and sport, informed the collection. After the fur parade, things started to lighten, as if the models had entered a new biosphere with more favorable conditions and were able to shed their outer layers.
Ghesquiere took traditional luxury fabrics, including lace, satin and brocade, and gave them a modern, casual look with spare silhouettes, technical-looking embroideries and applications.
Slip dresses and T-shirts had corset detailing, which we’ve seen elsewhere on the runways this season, but done in a graphic way, with exposed zippers down the sides. And ribbed knits were given the sci-fi treatment with flaring hems, slicing cutouts and metallic effects. Miniskirts came in fused leather-and-lace, and shorts and mini-dresses in an intriguing jellyfish brocade. There were also classically tailored pantsuits worn with chain belts, which are officially back, also appearing on the runway at Chanel. Even the shoes were for women on the move--low-heeled sling-back pumps with metal studding, or subtle utility strap details.
While the collection didn’t necessarily chart new design territory for Ghesquiere, it did chart new business territory, by distilling many of his long-standing ideas and themes into something that was easy to understand and wear. The result was Vuitton’s most accessible ready to wear outing ever.
Meanwhile, at Miu Miu, Miuccia Prada’s label, the walls were covered in yellow-and-pink wallpaper, setting the stage for a vintagey-cool, color-soaked collection that brought to mind the look of a John Waters film. The soundtrack was a toe-tapping, grin-inducing mix of Talking Heads and snippets of commercials promoting beauty products and the cult of female domesticity. (“L’Oreal Studio Line, create your look,” a silken voice urged.)
On the runway, there were a ton of fun coats in stamped leather, contrasting checks, plaids and snakeskin. Leather and python knife pleat skirts (pleated skirts, also a huge trend for fall) were paired with sweet, ruffled bib blouses and perforated sweaters. Accessories included bright patent, buckle front shoes and boots, oversized sunglasses and bold, vintage-looking daisy-and-crystal jewelry. And handbags came with chunky, plastic chain-link handles.
After a dizzying week of Hollywood-worthy runway sets (Brasserie Gabrielle at Chanel), cameos (“Zoolander 2” at Valentino) and celebrity hi-jinks (battle of platinum blonds Kim Kardashian and Jared Leto everywhere), it was refreshing to see something that felt kind of low-fi, reveling in the pure pleasure (and sometimes pain) of creating a look.
Plus, you can never underestimate the power of a great tune. “And you may ask yourself, how did I get here? Once in a lifetime…”
Until next season.
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PHOTOS FROM PARIS FASHION WEEK: