PARIS – Chanel brought Paris Fashion Week to its final day with a runway show that illustrated how designers and the people they dress want to look to the future with optimism.
It is said that fashion is a mirror of our times -- and the spring-summer collections shown here were sexy, vibrant and joyful despite, or perhaps because of, the coronavirus pandemic.
The runway show was staged before a pared-down audience Tuesday in an annex by the Eiffel Tower, but the location had nothing to do with the pandemic. The normal venue, the Grand Palais, is being renovated for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
American actress Kristen Stewart rocked up late to the Parisian stalwart’s show wearing a pink Chanel skirt suit. French-American model-actress Lily-Rose Depp also showed up for Chanel.
Here are some highlights of the final day of ready-to-wear collections, including Louis Vuitton:
CHANEL GETS SNAPPED AT THE BEACH
Appropriately enough for a paparazzi-themed show, a group of frenzied minders rushed Stewart in late to take her seat. Guests had to look twice to see who the tardy invitee was because the “Twilight” star looked almost unrecognizable. The actress, a Chanel ambassador, sported a chic blond beehive for her latest role as Princess Diana in “Spencer,” which was partly filmed in Paris and set for a November release.
Designer Virginie Viard was in raunchy mood for spring. The theme was the lens, and real photographers, including from The Associated Press, huddled around a red carpet podium freestyle instead of lining up in their normal scrum. Models posed theatrically, with inches of leg and midriff exposed. The scene prompted chuckles from Depp.
The collection was all about swimwear. Sporty monochrome bikinis were worn with cascading silver necklaces, pendants, and talismans. Bold black-white contrasts and big statement buttons offered a faint whiff of the 1980s.
Chanel's bread-and-butter skirt suits were colorfully jazzed up with stripes and patterns as if lifted straight from a Saint Tropez bikini. Yet this season, sadly, Viard did not seem to push the creative envelope.
The mood of beach-going and optimism at a time when the pandemic still has limited exotic vacations could be borne of a desire to project hope that the freedom to travel will soon return. Or was it about giving guests a chance to dream?
200 YEARS AFTER LOUIS VUITTON'S BIRTH
“Like a trousseau that is passed down and modified over time” was how Louis Vuitton designer Nicolas Ghesquiere described his encyclopedic show, which celebrated the 200-year anniversary since the birth of the house's eponymous founder.
For the sumptuous Louvre show that marked the milestone, Ghesquiere imagined a charmed historic ball.
“The figure of a vampire that travels throughout the ages” was a key inspiration in the display, he said. The collection seemed at times like a visual phantasmagoria, dipping in and out of different times periods as the house itself looks back to its heritage and forward to the future.
Historic detailing -- the first looks featured fastidious 1920s-style embroidery from a stock of 19th century beads, followed by stiff collars held by metal wiring -- mixed with contemporary pieces, such as funky fluorescent Roman sandals.
In the same vein, billowing skirt silhouettes with inbuilt scaffolding “evoking Louis Vuitton’s early days,” Ghesquiere said, conjured up the rich Parisienne women of the late 19th century who were the fashion house’s first clients.
And yet, as soon as guests had the chance to fall in love with the nostalgia of the 1890s, a pair of drainpipe jeans brought their musing to the 1990s.
It made for a great anachronism.
Despite the slick show, not all went according to plan for the fashion brand. At one point, Extinction Rebellion climate activists managed to get on a stretch of the runway — in a protest against the global fashion industry's impact on the environment.
A protester held a banner featuring the words “Overconsumption=Extinction,” walking down the runway, before being taken away by show security.
In a statement, Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth and Youth For Climate said that dozens planned the protest, and two were detained.
When contacted by The Associated Press, Louis Vuitton would give “no comment.”
MIU MIU’S QUIRKS
The powerful front row of celebrities defines Miuccia Prada’s quirky little sister brand Miu Miu as much as the well-known humor and eccentric contrasts of the clothes.
This season, 21-year-old American actress and singer Halle Bailey -- the star of Disney’s upcoming “The Little Mermaid,” drew the lion's share of camera snaps in a front row that also included British model-designer Alexa Chung.
In fashion terms, the display was unusually sober and pared down. Black, browns and the oranges of fallen leaves brought an autumnal color palette to the spring-summer runway -- a typical and intentional contradiction from the unpredictable Italian designer.
In styles that mixed sartorial with street, a slouchy school vibe that pervaded the 50-look show. As per normal for Miu Miu, there were quirks galore.
A gray cable knit sweater had the midriff section lopped off, alongside frayed white shirt hems.
Prada also cut the legs completely off some pale menswear office pants, giving the pieces the funky low-slung style of a tennis skirt. Menswear woolen socks were worn high like tights.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K