Kimonos and colossal bows at Valentino’s catwalk

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PARIS — Italian designer Pierpaolo Piccioli went for an explosion of bold colors at Valentino’s Haute Couture collection late Wednesday, switching from mustard yellow to fuchsia to azure with supermodel Gigi Hadid walking in purple.

Clashing textures with silks, woolen fringes and pom poms also gave the outfits a subtle complexity. Some models wore ornate beaded hats in the style of traditional tribal headpieces.

Hadid sported a kimono-inspired lilac gown, complete with gemstone-encrusted white, jade and orange embroidery and a colossal bow resting askew on her shoulders.

Piccioli has been Valentino’s sole creative director since 2016 but has been with the label since 1999. His bouffant dresses and vibrant use of color have garnered the brand fresh acclaim after founder Valentino Garavani retired in 2007.

One surprise on the runway came in a green dress and glittering trench coat, as 75-year-old model Lauren Hutton wowed the crowd in four-inch mustard heels and sparkling fuchsia gloves.

The fashion house said in a note that the collection aimed to celebrate individuality, diversity and inclusivity.




After the finale, Piccioli walked the runway hand-in-hand with the team of women and seamstresses who crafted the intricate pieces.

The show wrapped up this season’s Couture Fashion Week, where an elite club of top-end designers show off elaborate, hand-made creations.

GAULTIER’S WILD SIDE
Models stormed the runway in animal prints, neon dresses and designs that played with optical illusions at Jean Paul Gaultier’s Haute Couture collection on Wednesday, set to a banging 1990s euro dance soundtrack.

Gaultier — who joined the fur-free trend late last year at a time when brands like Burberry or Gucci are also dropping pelts — evoked an array of wildlife with animal prints including a panther coat and geometric, zebra-striped dresses.

In a warm, party atmosphere, the audience cheered on French model Cindy Bruna, dressed in a pleated aniseed-colored chiffon dress and Coco Rocha in her monochrome dress and vest, a mix of wool and a python pattern.

Notable stand-outs included a quilted cape made of neon green satin, laid on the model’s head like a tent, oversized long collars used as sleeveless jackets and enormous, faux-fur chapka hats.

Presented in Gaultier’s Paris headquarters, the collection included dresses with endless dots of color, creating the optical illusion of movement.

Gaultier, whose brand is owned by Spanish perfumer Puig, chose to stop his prêt-à-porter line, usually a more profitable segment of the fashion market, to focus only on Haute Couture Week as well as his perfume ranges.

ARMANI PRIVÉ’S RAINBOW
Gems, tulle, rainbow feathers and sparkling details illuminated the runway in Giorgio Armani Privé’s dreamy haute couture collection on Tuesday.

Unfurling in the Petit Palais exhibition hall in Paris, the Italian designer’s show featured intricate, feminine looks in shades of pastel — shown off by models who twirled three times in the runway in the whimsical display.

The collection hinted at the past with the gelled, waved hairstyles of the 1920s, fascinator-inspired headpieces and playful polka-dots — while rooting itself firmly in the present with totally transparent tops and skirts.

Eighty-four-year-old Armani also presented dusty rose, baby blue, and light jade versions of his familiar tailored jackets and accessory-heavy looks, while texture was given by pieces woven with flashing gemstones and pearls.

The final look featured a billowing layered skirt in rainbow hues with a black bandeau and a layer of shimmering lace that covered it in its entirety.

The 82-piece Autumn/Winter collection marks the veteran designer’s 30th haute couture collection.

Still owned and led by Armani himself, the Armani Group is two years into a series of internal restructuring initiatives, streamlining its portfolio into three labels.

LAGERFELD’S LIBRARIANS
Buttoned up looks fit for a studious afternoon in the library filled Chanel’s Haute Couture runway show on Tuesday, as models paraded around an enormous bookcase in designer Virginie Viard’s second, closely watched solo outing for the French brand.

Viard, a long time collaborator of Chanel’s veteran creative chief Karl Lagerfeld, took on the design reigns at the luxury label after the German fashion star died in February at 85.

The brand has so far preserved many of the elements that have drawn fans and rich clients back over the years, including new twists every season on its famed tweed suits, and several guests said they were taken with Viard’s interpretation of them.

“It did feel a little bit different with the new designer… maybe a little younger,” said Chinese customer Regina Chen, 30.

Tuesday’s collection — part of Paris’ Haute Couture week, a presentation of one-of-a-kind outfits considered the height of fashion prowess — featured elaborate takes on the Chanel classic, including a mauve trouser suit with wide legs.

Model Kaia Gerber showed off a bright pink, skirted version with flowery, white shoulders, while others wore longer versions of the tweed skirts.

The collection also included intricately beaded gowns, a shimmering fuschia number and a more sultry, velvet evening dress.

Viard’s show plunged spectators deep into the inner sanctum of a spectacular, circular library. Several models wore glasses, and prim looks dominated the runway, with high, Edwardian-style collars or dresses evoking ladies riding outfits.

BACK TO BLACK AT DIOR
With a series of all-black bustier gowns that would not have looked out of place on Grace Kelly, a vintage mood reigned on the catwalk at Christian Dior on Monday — although even the historic setting for the show came with modern twists.

Held in the French label’s headquarters in Paris, where founder Christian Dior presented his designs until his death in 1957, the brand’s latest Haute Couture collection was rich in nods to that era, with capes and A-line silhouettes galore.

But rather than a ’50s-era salon, celebrity guests wound their way through rooms adorned with smoke patterns in the darkened, revamped townhouse, while a huge artificial tree with creeping roots invaded the central staircase.

The styles on show also mixed the old and the new, with lightweight materials giving some of the black dresses a diaphanous air.

“Now we can make a corset that is comfortable too,” designer Maria Grazia Chiuri said of the collection, inspired in part by the work of late architect Bernard Rudofsky, who explored the relationship between buildings and couture.

Skirts adorned with feathers, touches of velvet or lace were subtly structured to add volume; belted jackets came with exaggerated, bouffant sleeves.

Chiuri said she had focused on black for this collection in part not to distract from the design. “If you want to speak about the line, black helps,” she added in an interview.

Silvery, Grecian-style dresses provided a few flashes of color, in looks inspired by caryatid — the sculpted female figures used as columns, and which adorn many buildings in Paris.

One model took the architectural theme even further, closing the show with a dollhouse for a dress, in a golden version of Dior’s 30 Avenue Montaigne townhouse. The house-dress was designed by artist Penny Slinger, who made the set for the show.

NO RUNWAY FOR VALLI
Known for his ultra-feminine, silhouette-driven gowns, couturier Giambattista Valli shook up Haute Couture fashion week in Paris on Monday with a botanic-inspired collection displayed not on models, but on mannequins.

In the place of a traditional runway show, his Maison Valli brand showcased the designer’s romantic, breezy looks in a multi-room exhibit.

A handful of floral prints added to Valli’s usual monochromatic gowns of tulle, chiffon and taffeta.

“I wanted the people finally to look at… the artwork of making Haute Couture — and not from far and not in movement,” Valli said, emphasizing the private moment afforded by personal inspection of each piece.

“I think privacy is the ultimate luxury.”

One bright fuchsia ballgown, with voluminous ruffles on the shoulders, around the hips, and on the hem represented a lotus. Another gown was a forget-me-not, one a wild pansy, others peonies.

The exhibition follows the Italian-born designer’s collaboration last month with Stockholm-based clothing label H&M Hennes, in a mash-up of high-end fashion and affordable retail publicized by model Kendall Jenner. — Reuters