British Punk to Couture Carnivals: Paris Fashion Week Recap

From Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton Men’s show to Chanel Haute Couture sans Karl, everything you need to know from the French capital.

The Paris runways have had more foot traffic than the love-lock bridge, Pons de Artes, with Men’s fashion week and recently, haute couture shows. Case in point: Recently married, Karlie Kloss, just off the heels of her hosting gig on Project Runway- replacing former supermodel, Heidi Klum-posted multiple photos on Instagram of her gallivanting in “the city of lights.”

Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton seemed to take a cue from this supposed enlightened city with fiber optic multicolored glowing sneakers and duffel bags. Of equal significance was the musical score that began with live music including a solo saxophonist and transitioned to Michael Jackson. Graphic-printed hoodies with the King or Pop and pops of color like Barney the Dinosaur purple monochromatic head-to-toe outfits in front of Raul’s Barber Shop shuttered storefront.

The NYC set had street signs turned over with seemingly rustled leaves, crosswalks and traffic lights signaled an urban crisp Fall where militant khaki looks with the classic LV monogram took center stage played on the middle socioeconomic strata before arrays of steel grey and black suited and buttoned-up men sashayed up the ladder. From the LES to the UWS- the United We Stand, that is – charity single  “We are the World,” played as models turned as flag staffs represented several countries with full-size flags, patch-worked onto fur collars.

Only a couple of days later, Abloh for LV launched a sneak peek look into his 3-stage time-released editorial campaign, the second and third to release on February 1 and March 22. The campaign harps on the end of his runway showing- “universal and human at the core,” he describes it, this time multigenerational as opposed to multicultural-“I decided I was going to focus the campaign on boyhood, not men’s wear.” Pedagogical in his approach, a day later, Abloh uploaded an online archive of his work and lectures for public consumption.

Heidi Slimane, however, approached Paris in the opposite direction, so to speak. First off, he abandoned his previous armchair Celine installations, debuting a motion-driven runway show. Secondly, the show, “A London Diary: Polaroids of the British Youth,” focused on a specific era and country. He managed to retain his formula for success: fitted suits, hands concealed in pockets that furthered his penchant for shapeless figures, and a lot of black. Newness included some khaki and denim, and less-svelte silhouettes. He introduced wide-legged pants, hemmed to show ankles and pleated at the waist to strategically display the voluminous hemline. There were also printed details specific to the mod-time period: leopard and zebra printed footwear and checkered lapels.

Like Celine, Dior’s men’s fashion show was understated; timeless, and updated takes on originals. The color palette was grey, black and white, and a dusty pink. The jackets were quilted. Sneakers and tech accessories, including holsters, punctuated otherwise streamlined outfits. The models were on conveyor belts, playing off of the assembly line-like uniforms. Kim Jones kept with the musical theme of the city’s fashion circuit with invitations illustrated by Raymond Petition, who designed album covers for Black Flag, Minor Threat and Sonic Youth.

In sharp contrast, the Dior haute couture showing in Paris thereafter was a spectacle of clownish proportions. And like Celine, which brought London to Paris, Maria Grazia-Chiuri retrieved London-based Mimbre acrobatics to provide guests with a spectacle, magnifying the tent-canopied runway. As with most athletically inclined performers, hair was kept out of the way, underneath skull cap-helmets akin to water polo swim caps with under-chin closure. The garment and accessories alike was chock of full of luster and shine – full-bodied tulle, ringleader-coattail-swaying sports coats over skinny black trousers and layered over a crisp white button-down. Sequined skirts and sequined effervescent spaghetti strap maxi dresses sashayed alongside transparent peekaboo tops and mini-dresses that revealed bodysuits – a femme fatale.

More demure but just as shielded from the snowy elements in Paris, the Chanel haute couture show was in its own biosphere – a garden brunch beneath sunny, clear skies where tweed-clad skirt-suit women could attend a wedding for a bikini-clad bride. Hair was coiffed up in conical bouffant, and fur-hemmed outfits were accented with detached fur collars. Delicate kitten heels for which smooth-surfaced walking paths are mandatory had a retro vibe. The more adventurous woman sported black leather off the shoulder, collar bone-bearing waist-high top over harem-like shaggy stark white pants that cuffed at the ankle. Bright red lipstick accented the look while dusty pastel floral in pleated tailoring appeared afterward, as if foreshadowing the guests arrival before Bridal Chorus would play, signaling guests to stand at the entrance of the bride. In this case, that head-turner was model, Vittoria Ceretti, a cathedral-length silver veil trailing behind. Though there was one notable absentee, Karl Lagerfeld, his presence could be felt and seen in every eye and hook, so to speak.

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