PARIS -- It seemed as if there was a battle of the bigs going on at Paris Fashion Week. New designers at Dior and Yves Saint Laurent grabbed a lot of attention, so Karl Lagerfeld installed wind turbines in the Grand Palais for the Chanel runway show, and Marc Jacobs installed four escalators on the runway for Louis Vuitton.
But in the case of Jacobs, there was method to the madness. The escalators were a site-specific installation by French conceptual artist Daniel Buren, known for creating art in public spaces that unites surfaces and architecture. His Monumenta exhibit was under the glass ceiling at the Grand Palais this spring.
Inspiration: “Les Deux Plateaux,” a work by Buren that consists of 260 columns of three different heights arranged in a grid, which has been in Paris’ Palais Royal since 1986. The beautiful music and spoken words were from Phillip Glass’ opera “Einstein on the Beach.” This was the first runway collection not to use the LV logo. Instead, the Damier check was the defining graphic.
The look: Models came out in pairs, walking lock step, descending and ascending the escalators at once, as if on a never-ending loop. Mod, 1960s shapes. Linear, column-like silhouettes. Graphic checks in various sizes defined every look. Calf-length pencil skirts and slim shift dresses, pea coats. Sheer grids, checks with floral embroideries, checks embellished with the smallest sequins arranged by the thousands, sparkling like diamonds. Helmet like hairdos and wide head bands. Pointy-toe pumps with flat bows and chunky heels.
The verdict: Visual splendor in motion. Quite poignant. Rather than just a themey fashion show, this was performance art. But the clothes were lovely, reinforcing the graphic message of the season, which Jacobs began in New York with his own collection, and earlier this summer with an LV collaboration with polka dot-artist Yayoi Kusama.