This weekend in Paris: Altuzarra, Elie Saab, Dice Kayek, Zadig & Voltaire and Givenchy
A busy weekend of action at the virtual Paris Fashion Week, where most of the online videos were shot thousands of miles away from the French capital. Video shows recorded everywhere from Istanbul and Beirut to Manhattan. We caught up with five brands which powerfully expressed the desire for rebirth, and rejoicing, after this long night of lockdown.
Altuzarra: Chrysalis and cashmere
This season in Paris, or indeed anywhere, there have to be very few designers so successfully displaying their talent as Joseph Altuzarra, who unveiled a poetic collection on Saturday.
Shot with graceful camera movements inside what looked like a West Village apartment, the clothes all reflected the hyper cautious atmosphere of our times and the yearning for femininity in fashion.
"I was intuitively drawn to the story of a chrysalis turning into a butterfly. I stumbled on photos of butterfly wings and started collaging them to create a print. This became the starting point for the collection, and the inspiration for its overarching narrative," explained the designer.
Altuzarra has always been a subtle colorist, rarely more so than this weekend, where the initial inspiration led to blotchy tie-dye chiffon dresses in perfect hues of blood orange, power blue and faded turquoise.
Joseph added a new dimension for fall with classy knits in cashmere, merino or chenille. From the twinsets that included neat corsets to the blanket-style coats worn by a trio of models, some of them sporting spikey floral tiaras.
Plus, he cuts with tremendous dash – a skill notably seen in the funnel-neck coats and mannish redingotes that opened the video. Even more impressively, a windowpane check boyfriend suit that looked like the Great Gatsby had cut it down to size for Daisy Buchanan to wear.
Elegiac, elegant and excellent.
Elie Saab: Regal fashion emerges from Beirut’s ruins
Even in the midst of a global meltdown; living in crisis-ridden Lebanon; and designing in a fashion house located close to last year’s giant dockside explosion, Elie Saab has still managed to create a lush and glamorous collection for next season.
Since the pandemic began, Saab’s videos have extolled the topography and architecture of his native land. This was no exception. Shot inside a dramatic series of slate gray columns and pools, within the 2030 district of downtown Beirut undergoing major renovation, where the cast marched with vigor.
Elie began at night with a trio of great cocktails, cut in cascading layers of chiffon. These were worn with boots, making the models look like princesses and potentates. For daytime, this winter Saab suggests polka-dot business dresses and black and white paneled wool suits that echoed Carnaby Street at its zenith.
But the highlight of the show was the black faille gala dinner gowns cut with ruffles and worn by models sporting chignon hairstyles and diamond string earrings.
Everything made in black and white with tiny doses of emerald and dusty pink, and staged to a great techy dance track remix of Kylie Minogue’s classic, "Can’t Get You Out of My Head."
This was Saab doing what he does best – grand modern glamour, even in the midst of a global nightmare.
Dice Kayek: Grand Guignol in the Pera Palace
Got to hand it to Dice Kayek: this house knows how to shoot a stylish flick. Entitled "Who Killed Philippe Stone," it was a mock murder mystery shot in the lobby of Istanbul’s most famous classic hotel, Pera Palace, where a cast of femme fatales danced melodramatically. And an Edith Piaf figure in a man’s tuxedo sang even more theatrically.
All attired in a very classy idea of what one wears to the better sort of cocktail party. Black silk cocoon dresses with one-foot long white collars; dainty little black dresses with silver floral appliqués; chiffon frocks with plenty of semi-transparent sleeves.
"I love you so much, and maybe now more than ever," croons the singer, as a roar bursts out and Monsieur Stone is found dead.
At first a bellhop points the finger at a rouged suspect with a pageboy haircut, who dances around a grand suite in a powder blue pleated suit, before accusing the whole cast, who appear in scratchy flashbacks, attired in Grand Guignol cloaks and with several donning Dice Kayek’s signature garment – their classy faux-virginal white shirts.
Then suddenly the female suspects all turn on the bellhop, who is exposed as having a wee bottle of poison and a dart, and pin the murder on the young man.
Perfectly styled by French veteran Franck Benhamou and acted with plenty of fervor, this was an ideal vehicle to display the latest fashion from Dice Kayek. Still, after 30 years, Turkey’s most influential runway brand.
Zadig & Voltaire: Classier, and still cool
Nothing like a little self-love, especially in these dark times. And, why not in fashion? Particularly at Zadig & Voltaire, whose latest show is entitled "Love Yourself."
"I think after these last 12 months, being positive about yourself doesn’t hurt," opined the house’s creative director Cecilia Bönström at a pre-show coffee, before Sunday’s unveiling of her runway video.
Shot on a massive soundstage in Studio 217 in Aubervilliers, just north of Paris, and featuring grand backdrop vistas of great cities – from the Eiffel Tower and the Bank of England to Times Square and Stockholm's redbrick City Hall, where the Nobel banquet is held.
Zadig & Voltaire is a quintessentially cool Parisian label, though she is the type of French gal who has lived abroad. One with the chutzpah to wear soft cotton camouflage safari jackets with sculpted jogging pants; or crushed calfskin skirts, shirts and loon pants. Wearing her hair faintly bedraggled, the ideal image of the French lover so many men dream about.
Crisp gold-dust-striped pantsuits, flouncy leopard-print cocktails worn with great new ZV logo tights, from a linkup with Fogal. And in a season of many ponchos, Bönström even had one of the best with Mexican stripes. Nothing terribly revolutionary but, nonetheless, extremely flattering fashion.
In a coed show, her guys donned soft striped mohair art student sweaters; rocker leather trousers or padded plaid parkas. The designer also had two big ideas this season, both of them smart. A natty, new mid-sized bag, "Le Cecilia," made of vegetable dyed leather and featuring an adjustable chain, so it functions as a large clutch or a small shoulder bag.
Her other invention was referencing Voltaire, printing his pithy bons mots across khaki military tunics and putting his portrait on gray T-Shirts. The philosopher, who loved juxtapositions, would have approved.
Givenchy: The latest evolution of an everchanging house
One house that has been through a lot of definitions about who it really is, has to be Givenchy.
Since it’s founder, Hubert de Givenchy, retired in 1995, the house has been through a half-dozen designers, including such heavy hitters as John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Riccardo Tisci. So the definition of what Givenchy stands for – apart from its graphic G script logo – has gotten pretty blurred.
For decades, Givenchy’s most famous look was the Bettina blouse, a pristine, enveloping white cotton shirt. Tisci took it to tougher terrain, which is where its latest designer Matthew M. Williams clearly feels comfortable. An early look in his video show on Sunday was of a model wearing pants and a see-through bra. Not quite Bettina.
Moreover, where Hubert dressed Holly Golightly to drink highballs on the Upper East Side, Williams attires his cast for all-night rave parties in Berlin. With lots of posh S&M leather clubbing blousons, rude boy puffers, faux fur parkas and Klondike trapper Canadian coats.
In a coed show, most of the cast wore thick wool balaclavas and furry gloves – all marching under arc lights on a wet PVC runway. A color palette of black, anthracite, muddy brown and darkest purple, and why not?
This collection was about 1,000 miles away, and 50 years distant, from Hubert’s childhood as a pampered provincial Protestant minor league aristocrat, but it somehow had the same sense of ambition. Though Williams comes from an entirely different background and espouses a very different aesthetic, this collection somehow felt right. It should not have, but it did.
All Williams needs now is another Truman Capote to pen a novel worthy of a feature film, where this alluring cast can appear.
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