Paris couture season opens with three ready-to-wear shows and a garden party
Paris Haute Couture week begins officially Monday morning, but smart brands love to express themselves in its slipstream as did Paco Rabanne, Patou and Alaïa with three highly accomplished shows on Sunday evening.
All of them featuring ready-to-wear; whether edgy, elegiac and empowering. All three exuding the sort of self-assured panache that that one only really gets in Paris. Just like the stylish garden party staged on Sunday by Delvaux inside the Palais Royal. Where guests imbibed champagne and gin bashes – the fashion cocktail of the year – as sun set over the famous garden, where the classy Belgian bag brand’s Paris flagship is located.
However, the day’s action began at 5 p.m. inside the Palais de Tokyo, with an exhilarating display from Paco Rabanne, where the cast stomped out in cyber-punk warrior boots, finished with pearls, chains and expensive detritus on an elevated metal grid runway held together by scaffolding.
“Fight back feminism!” explained Paco Rabanne’s designer Julien Dossena, after a dark yet silvery vision, the first major collection in any city to reflect the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Most every model wore a Babushka headscarf – many studded, finished in grommets, or made in metallic mesh. Queen Elizabeth-meets-a-film-noir-assassin in a new disruptive fetish.
Dossena’s invitation was black Latex rubber, and his boldest looks were abstract expressionist liquid Latex cocktails that managed to be chaotic and melodic at the same time. Nothing delicate about these clothes. Mixing up Marilyn dresses with funky finishes. Cutting short party dresses that morphed between Latex, metal mesh and lace.
Semi-sheer mesh skirts were all trimmed with super reflective beads, and trenches dissected with silver military belts. Paco Rabanne has always been about exploring materials, but in an updated register, and this collection was a great example of that.
Many ensembles looked very shiny as if emerging from sudden sunny shower, all the way to the brilliant cyber punk princess in short funky crinolines. Pre-pandemic, Dossena’s style was quite sci-fi. These clothes had great panache, but dystopian panache.
“There’s a little chaos, violence and anger in the choice of materials. And I try to work on that. First we had Ukraine and now we have laws preventing abortion (in the U.S.). I feel there is going to be a long struggle, and this collection gives a woman the clothes in which to fight. Radical sensuality, no apologies,” concluded the French designer.
One hour later, just 100 yards from Notre Dame, Guillaume Henry staged his first runway show for the house of Patou, after a half decade of presentations.
An intimate display inside the relatively modest townhouse of the brand. Patou may be owned by the world’s biggest luxury corporation LVMH, but it’s run like a start-up.
Its headquarters are also located next door to Inspector Maigret’s office. And there was a little mystery about these clothes especially the ruffle taffeta gowns and Musketeer’s shirts that Henry has made a light motif of during his tenure at Patou.
But he broke new ground with some racy, laced-up thigh boots pair with pleated mini-skirts and artfully tailored boleros. Good to see Henry playing around with a lot more body conscious cocktails and coat-dresses, in an impressive and cohesive collection from the popular French designer.
“We like to take our time and put down some roots. And it’s good to see the fruit. Now, the next stop is a Patou boutique,” commented Sidney Toledano, president of LVMH Fashion Group, and the ultimate decision maker in this novel fashion experiment.
Sunday was rounded off with a triumphant display by Pieter Mulier, in his third collection for the house of Alaïa.
Staged inside what will be Alaïa’s new flagship, the former big boutique of Lanvin, located at the beginning of shopping Mecca, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, catty-corner to Hermes biggest global store.
The cast marched around the raw building site in ergonomic body stockings of knitted silk over which were rouched and draped stretch chiffon skirts and dresses, or flouncy dirndls. Multiple looks finished with elaborate knots seen on padded leather blousons or grommeted silk jersey skirts.
“I wanted pure and simple, even if in the construction they are not at all,” explained the designer in the backstage.
Asked about all the knots, he responded: “I always wanted to drape in my previous job but could not. But this atelier is very good at it, so I could drape leather or cloth. To me, this is all about empowering,” he smiled.
Great razor-sharp denim bomber jackets topped with a dozen raw pearl and mother-of-pearl necklaces shouted out Alaïa, as did much of this collection, so coherent it was with the brand’s DNA.
Plus, Mulier’s shoes were something else. Perspex heels cut like house arrest electronic tags; or heels made out of copies of model worthy legs. The same shapes used as rings to cuff the sleeves of oversized coats, or what Mulier termed, “Modern architecture.”
Just like much of Sunday’s fashion in Paris, which even before a single couture look has been presented suddenly seems brimming with ideas.
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