PARIS — French designer Jean Paul Gaultier evoked a sea journey to Japan at his latest Haute Couture fashion show last Wednesday, in a riot of colors and pleats that drew celebrities including actress Catherine Deneuve and model Irina Shayk to the front now.
To the soundtrack of “La Mer” by Charles Trenet, the show opened with a short series of blue and white striped tops, an emblematic pattern of Mr. Gaultier’s repertoire since the 1980s and his famous Toy Boy collection.
From the French coast and its sound of waves, the designer, whose brand is owned by Spanish perfumer Puig, continued his journey to a colorful Japan where he revisited the art of pleating, including in the waffled hair sported by some models.
Wearing high heeled jelly shoes, one model strutted down the runway in an asymmetrical cascade of pleated purple organza on a black bustier and a creme pants, tied together by an obi belt.
Elsewhere neon green tights were coupled with a rainbow of intricately pleated tulle, and the outfits, with extravagant names like “Floating Island,” featured elaborate braiding and embroidering.
A wedding dress of sheer organza built around a see-through cage closed the show.
In one highlight, burlesque artist Dita Von Teese sashayed down the runway to thunderous applause in a translucent black and skin tone dress, with huge pointed shoulders that gave her a fairy look.
Ms. Von Teese recently performed in Gaultier’s Fashion freak show, a cabaret-style act put on by the designer in Paris and featuring dance, songs, acrobatics and fashion.
Mr. Gaultier quit ready-to-wear fashion in 2014 to focus on the one-of-a-kind outfits presented in Haute Couture Week in Paris, as well as his perfume line.
VALENTINO BRINGS POETRY TO PARIS WITH FEAST OF FLOWERS
Meanwhile, Italian fashion label Valentino created a dreamlike ode to spring on the catwalk in Paris, as models appeared to float down the runway in a series of vaporous dresses adorned with shimmering flowers, oversized ruffles and feathers galore.
Fashion veteran Naomi Campbell wowed in an enormous half sheer, all-black gown at the close of the Haute Couture show.
But softer pastel tones and delicate floral patterns dominated other looks, as celebrities including Celine Dion looked on in the audience.
Models wore feathers on their eyelashes in a presentation that almost resembled an extravagant masked ball.
The brand has long been go-to for Hollywood movie stars, with creations by its now retired founder Valentino Garavani, whose magenta red gowns became a signature trait, featuring heavily during awards season.
Current creative chief Pierpaolo Piccioli’s bouffant dresses, and oversized designs in sumptuous taffeta and vibrant colors have earned him plaudits from a fashion forward crowd and a clutch of awards.
The label’s Qatari owners, investment vehicle Mayhoola, had examined plans to list Valentino on Milan’s stock market, sources told Reuters in late 2017, although the company has been evasive about such plans since.
ARMANI’S GLITTERING ART DECO FASHION DRAWS STARS
Italy’s Giorgio Armani played off bright reds against dazzling blue tones in his Haute Couture fashion collection, in an Art Deco-inspired feast of feathers, sequins, patent leather and crystals.
The designer’s gowns have long been red carpet favorites, and the catwalk show drew Hollywood actresses Uma Thurman and Dakota Fanning to the front row, along with Canadian singer Celine Dion.
Beaded caps sported by some models gave outfits a 1920s-era flapper twist, as swaying, fringed skirts succeeded slinkier numbers and intricately textured jackets which caught the light at certain angles.
Clunky earrings and patterned gowns recalled the geometry of Art Deco architecture, and models walked to the sultry soundtrack of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1970 film The Conformist.
Some outfits in the label’s high-end Armani Prive range had an oriental air, in the rounded necklines of some dresses, flowing silk styles, or a kimono-style cloak.
The brand said it had also drawn on Chinese lacquer as an inspiration and to enhance some looks.
CHANEL RECREATES SUMMERY BLISS, MINUS LAGERFELD
Chanel hosted guests in a mocked-up Mediterranean garden for its Haute Couture show last week though Karl Lagerfeld, the octogenarian designer responsible for the collection and extravagant set, failed to show up for his customary bow.
“For the traditional greeting at the end of the show, Mr. Lagerfeld (…) , who was feeling tired, asked Virginie Viard, director of the creative studio of the house, to represent him and greet the guests,” the brand said in a statement.
Mr. Lagerfeld — one of fashion’s most prolific designers who also creates looks for LVMH’s Fendi label as well as his eponymous brand — has been Chanel’s artistic director since the early 1980s and is known for his striking visual displays.
His latest show transported onlookers to the palm-tree lined garden and pool of a Tuscan-style villa, contrasting with the wintry surroundings in Paris as snow fell on the venue’s glass ceiling inside the Grand Palais exhibition hall.
In a collection inspired by Mr. Lagerfeld’s favorite period, the 18th century, feathers adorned new twists on the brand’s classic tweed suits, which came with ankle length or fishtail skirts.
Some models wore pastel colored prom-style dresses. One strutted down the catwalk in a pale green number embellished with life-like flowers as celebrities including film director Sofia Coppola and actress Tilda Swinton looked on from deck chairs.
The fashion show closed with a glittering silver swimsuit as the brand’s bridal look, complete with a veil trailing from a swimming cap.
Mr. Lagerfeld, who has long maintained a mystery about his exact age, had been expected to put in an appearance after the second run-through of the collection.
The German designer is credited with helping jazz up the label founded by Coco Chanel in 1910 and attract younger clients. And at a time when fashion labels are relying ever more on creating a buzz on social media, Mr. Lagerfeld’s over-the-top catwalk settings have proved a hit too.
Chanel’s statement said Viard and Director of Image Eric Pfrunder “would continue to work with (Lagerfeld) and follow through with the brand’s collections and image campaigns.”
Haute Couture Fashion Week, which ran until Jan. 24, allows an elite club of top-end designers to show off elaborate creations, which are not mass-produced for stores but tend to be sold to a single client. — Reuters