c.2014 New York Times News Service
c.2014 New York Times News Service
PARIS — Tears trickled down Valentino Garavani’s face as he embraced the two designers who took over his name in fashion, refreshing its spirit in a romantic way that had even a fashion-weary audience enraptured. But before the finale of filmy dresses, the last of which had a red heart appliquéd to the breast, the show was all about Pop Art. Baubles in black, red and white appeared on short graphic dresses; triangles of green broke up a knife-pleated skirt, and diamond patterns were offered as a new geometry.
The Pop elements were in homage to Italian artist Giosetta Fioroni, whose Rome exhibition Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, the creative directors of Valentino, visited last year.
“She expressed this idea of Italian Pop in the 1960s,” Piccioli said. “It was much more sensitive than America, where Pop was always close to an object like Coca-Cola.”
Chiuri added that their interest in Pop Art was bolstered by the fact that, just as television changed lives in the 1950s, so Facebook and Instagram are transforming culture today.
It was a dense theme for some sharp and eye-popping day outfits, including shoes. Yet the core of the show was in another place: in nature, with patterns of birds, and especially butterflies fluttering over dresses that demonstrated the intricate handwork of Valentino’s Roman ateliers. Although there were some of the stiffer regal dresses familiar to this duo, adorned with tactile surfaces, long sleeves and ankle-sweeping hemlines, there was also a lightening up. Airy, transparent materials gave a fairylike vision to the collection, although it also included some streamlined day clothes like a signature cape, cropped short over a skirt.
The success at Valentino comes from its definite vision. The founder created clothes for a particular audience of sensitive, elegant and well-heeled ladies, but Chiuri and Piccioli have nurtured that most sensitive of fashion elements: desire.
Alexander McQueen: On the blasted heath, with mist swirling over patchy heather, walked a ghostly young woman. Her eyes were black and deep, her hair in cornrow braids, her black coat with its wispy fur trimmings revealing just a white frill at the calf. The hoot of an owl, the flap of a raven and a trickle of blood were surely to come. This was, after all, an Alexander McQueen show.
But as young women walked by, looking like medieval princesses released from their tower, there was a sweet freedom to their white broderie anglaise dresses with puffy sleeves and portrait necklines. Their feet were in little boots with frills of fur.
Except, as in macabre storybooks, nothing in this fashion collection was quite as it seemed. The pony-skin boots were trimmed with frayed organza, which appeared, too, as the surface of wispy dresses. Actual feathers were used with extraordinary skill on outfits where a sudden sunrise of purple and turquoise appeared, in the colors of a Monet painting. The effect was exquisite and romantic.
“I wanted a wild beauty, a magical fairy tale, and also for it to be liberating,” Sarah Burton, the designer, said backstage. “The corsets and underpinnings have gone — she’s free.”
This show, with silver breastplates like medieval armor and fluffy snowflake dots, was a beautiful and haunting study. But was it ready-to-wear, meaning that some of these clothes will make it to the McQueen stores at a possible price?
Backstage, the exceptional handwork went from the owl-like eyes, framed with feathers, to embellishments on courtly dresses. This collection, if shown during the Paris haute couture season, would illuminate the fading calendar and underscore the meld of imagination, invention and workmanship that is Alexander McQueen today. Was it ready-to-wear, in the real sense of the words, for women walking the world’s streets? Only in your dreams.
Miu Miu: Young girls, pretty girls, pastel anoraks and thigh-high skirts. Not much subversive going on at the Miu Miu show then, was there? Even the front-row crowd featured sweet young things. Elle Fanning, 15, could make even the ever-present Rihanna look ancient at 26, while Lupita Nyong’o, 31, showed the same elegance as when she wore a floaty blue Prada dress to pick up her Oscar.
This was sensible Miu Miu, when a woman could wear a long wool coat, with inserts of knit, to warm up bare legs. Yet nothing from Miuccia Prada is that straightforward. So, add perverse shoes among all that innocence, the heel like a nail piercing the foot, or transparent plastic boots.
The Miu Miu show was short in skirt length, if a bit long in presentation. It was divided between sporty, quilted wet-weather wear in pale fondant colors that looked, no doubt deliberately, rather ordinary; and similar styles that were given a metallic sheen or silvered decoration. But, as ever, it is the atmosphere of the show, its faux innocence, that makes Prada’s work for this line stand out.
Hermès: The sturm und drang of four weeks of fashion collections ended on a gentle note as Hermès closed the fall 2014 shows in Paris. The velvet curtains at Hermès told the story before an elegant foot had been put on the wood-paneled runway. Subtle shading of colors, beige and gray moving into russet and raspberry, suggested the focus on slow fashion that is the essence of the house.
The designer Christophe Lemaire has finally moved into this gentle pace, sending out a fine collection. It started with double-face oversize coats, focused on pants and included all the Hermès codes from crocodile, for the world’s most glamorous sweat top, to the scarf prints that have been a pesky problem for all Hermès fashion designers.
Yet a simple patterned dress, worn under a sleeveless coat and with a different print on its back, caught the gentility of a brand that is the antithesis of fast fashion. So much of this season has seemed like throwing new designers to the lions. Hermès has waited patiently for its designer — and it is paying dividends.