Individual shows boldly stamp Paris fashion week

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

PARIS (AP) — Coco Chanel once said: "The most courageous act is still to think for yourself."

Day five of Paris Fashion Week showed that even today the legendary fashion designer's words ring true.

Saturday presented a gold mine of eclectic and individual shows: Each one with a unique stamp of their designer.

London-based Vivienne Westwood led the crowd, celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, but travelling — as she did — via Japan, Russia, Spain and Africa.

Westwood is the only designer on the Paris fashion calendar — or perhaps anywhere — who can cross the globe and several centuries, mixing up Bangkok-style catwomen, Chinese tea prints, tropical cowboys, Velasquez wenches, the Ballets Russes, and still produce a coherent and unified show.

Viktor & Rolf, meanwhile, went back to their signature plays on oversized proportion to produce a glitzy show — as they prepare to celebrate 20 years since they founded the label.

The epitome of femininity, Cacharel, explored spring through the natural colors of mother nature, in a trademark delicate display.

Sunday's shows include Kenzo, Celine and Hermes.



"Global exotic," is how English designer Vivienne Westwood described her brilliant and wacky spring-summer 2013 show, hosted on terra mater in Paris' British Embassy.

Disparate encyclopedic fashion references gelled together — amazingly — owing to her own, very British, eccentricity.

Westwood cited Sergei Diaghilev's "Ballets Russes" — the early 20th century's most famous ballet company — as a key inspiration.

The influential troupe used exotic styles with billowing trousers and turbans — which was evoked in many of the baggy globe-trotting looks.

One of the nicest looks came in a series of modified Japanese kimonos.

One in light gray silk, with wide bateau collar, had fluttering hoop panels that fluttered by.

Above all else, Westwood — who's 71 — has lost none of her humor.

There was a special guest star — a model portraying Queen Elizabeth II. She clutched a handbag in a crown and demure gray silk dress. In this cameo, unlike in the Olympic Games opening ceremony in which a queen look-a-like parachuted into the main stadium, the model just walked in through the embassy door.



Viktor & Rolf were feeling reflective, looking back on almost two decades since founding their fashion house, and that was evident Saturday in their oversized spring-summer ode to 70s pleated glamor.

"We were in a reflective mood..." said Viktor Horsting, one half of the famed Dutch design duo which is approaching its 20th anniversary.

Not ones to normally take things quite so literally, the inseparable Viktor and Rolf channeled mirrors in their oversized spring-summer show.

The designers, who founded their Amsterdam-based fashion house in 1993, sent models through a reflective tunnel onto a catwalk wearing mainly black, white and silver ensembles that featured blinding mirror appliques on sumptuous silks.

Oversized proportion — a signature mark — produced some hits.

Giant bows in soft pink and purple were used high or low on the waist to sumptuous effect.

But there were some small misses in proportion, too: One tubular floor-length skirt had rose-shaped mirror appliques whose size competed with the model's head.



Cacharel perfectly captured the fresh mood of spring, in a feminine collection — typical of the popular French house — that brought aquatic life to the catwalk.

Free hanging A-line slip dresses and gently flaring peplums and skirts Saturday, floated alongside prints of goldfish skin, anemones and underwater tea flower bloom.

This spring-summer 2013 collection was also a celebration of the natural world in its careful palette the Cerulean blue of sky, orange of sea coral and tea green.

But perhaps nature is in the house DNA: After all, designer Jean Bousquet who founded the house in 1962, named it after a small, beautifully striped dabbling duck with the same name.

Today's designers Ling Liu and Dawei Sun keep these codes, therefore, adding this season a touch of contemporary graphic prints.

The gentle blurring made this collection a visual treat.



Australian Martin Grant is not a household name, but he has a solid reputation in the fashion world and a string of celebrity followers like Juliette Binoche, Kate Hudson and Cate Blanchett.

Saturday's clean and on-trend collection proves it's little wonder.

"I wanted to play with volumes," Grant said backstage, referring to the many looks which had elongated peplums and jacket-skirts, twinned with black shorts — as seen in Raf Simons' show for Dior.

Black and navy was used well in A-line with trapeze silhouettes, and accentuated midriffs — one of the big parts of this season's fashion conversation —which nicely nipped the silhouettes.

One of the colors of the season, vermilion, was used perfectly as shards of color, or completely covering dresses.


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