Vuitton tops off fashion season with a museum mash-up

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Paris Fashion Week

PARIS — Louis Vuitton brought Paris Fashion Week to a close with a novel catwalk gimmick last week, building a replica of the pipes and scaffolding exterior of the Pompidou modern art center within the heart of the Louvre.

Vuitton, originally a luggage maker now famed for its handbags, is one in a stable of LVMH-owned brands that put on lavish shows in recent days.


Others include Givenchy and Celine, a label which the luxury goods conglomerate is investing in heavily as it expands into menswear too under new designer Hedi Slimane.

Vuitton’s womanswear designer Nicolas Ghesquiere has stamped a futuristic slant on the brand’s look since the start of his tenure in 2014.

His latest collection carried on that trend, with an urban, punk vibe in parts and flashbacks to the 1980s, with bold shoulders and jarring colors.

Highlights over Paris fashion week — which closes a month of shows that ran through New York, London and Milan — included the catwalk extravaganzas at Kering’s Saint Laurent, which showcased disco-worthy glow-in-the-dark dresses on a runway under the Eiffel Tower.

International fashion houses were also on show in Paris, including MiuMiu, an offshoot of Italy’s Prada.

Its latest range featured dark, gothic-styled outfits with the occasional pop of color in the form of a floral pattern or a brightly colored accessory.

As the show went on, furs and khaki design were introduced, to the sound of a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”

CHANEL BIDS FAREWELL TO LAGERFELD IN LAST GLITZY SHOW
Karl Lagerfeld’s last collection for Chanel opened with a minute’s silence for the late designer last Tuesday, as friends, collaborators and fans turned out in Paris to remember his 35 years as the creative force behind the French couture house.

Conceived before his death at 85 in late February, the extravaganza transformed the catwalk into a typically over-the-top winter wonderland, complete with wooden chalets and smoking chimneys, sealing Lagerfeld’s reputation at the pinnacle of fashion showmanship.

Actress Penelope Cruz, one of the faces of the brand, took to the snowy runway in a white, feathery puffball dress, followed by 17-year-old teen supermodel Kaia Gerber, who collaborated with Lagerfeld on designs for his eponymous brand.

Cara Delevingne, who has credited Lagerfeld for “changing her life,” took a last lap of the catwalk along with other teary-eyed models after opening the show.

Guests also heard from “Kaiser Karl” himself, with an account of how he first took the job at Chanel in 1983 played over the speakers inside the Grand Palais exhibition hall.

“When I was asked a second time, I accepted, because everyone told me don’t do it, it won’t work,” the German designer said, speaking in French.

“It’s the first time that a brand managed to become fashionable again, to turn itself into something desirable,” Lagerfeld added.

Lagerfeld, who also designed collections for Italy’s Fendi, helped transform Chanel into a luxury industry titan with $10 billion in annual sales during his tenure, and injected fresh life into Coco Chanel’s once eminent but fading couture house.

“It was a moment of communion for everyone who was here,” Caroline Lebar, who runs communications for Lagerfeld’s namesake brand, said after the show. “He was not just a fashion creator, he was a photographer, an editor, he made films, designed Coca Cola bottles, car interiors.. He leaves a real void.”

THE BEAT GOES ON
Included with show notes was a sketch by Lagerfeld — one of an increasingly rare group of designers who drew his own designs by hand — featuring himself and Coco Chanel, with the words “the beat goes on.”

Lagerfeld was instantly recognizable, thanks to the white, pony-tailed hair, black suits and round-the-clock sunglasses he favored in his later years.

His twists on the brand’s famed tweed suits, season after season, earned him a faithful following. Tuesday’s collection included bubblegum pink looks, fuzzy, woolen skirts to cozy up in and furry snow boots.

Lagerfeld’s second-in-command Virginie Viard, named to take over the creative direction of the brand, worked on the collection alongside him, Chanel said.

Several sources have told Reuters that the appointment was transitional and that another successor could yet be announced. Former Celine designer Phoebe Philo has been cited as a potential candidate, though Chanel has previously dismissed this.

Second-hand luxury platforms have reported a spike in sales of items associated with the designer since his death, with US-based ThredUp saying purchases of Karl Lagerfeld-branded wares surged almost 60% on the day he died.

‘UPCYCLED’ AT STELLA MCCARTNEY
British designer Stella McCartney showcased multi-colored “upcycled” dresses made of vintage T-shirts at her Parisian catwalk show last Monday, where US media mogul Oprah Winfrey put in a rare appearance on the front row.

The TV talk show star, who has repeatedly quashed speculation she could run for president, is supporting McCartney’s campaign to protect trees in the endangered Leuser Ecosystem, a forest in Indonesia.

Her appearance at the runway show, held in Paris’ sumptuous Opera Garnier, left even the British designer starstruck. “Oprah Winfrey is just mindblowing, she gives me goose bumps … A couple of days ago, she texted me to say she was in Paris and coming to the show. My blood drained from my body,” McCartney told Reuters after the show.

The designer — who is buying back full control of her eponymous brand from French luxury group Kering — is well-known as a pioneer in using recycled or sustainable fabrics and in shunning animal fur in an industry that is increasingly following that lead.

The autumn/winter 2019-2020 collection, described in show notes “as a contrast of strength and softness,” featured dresses made of old T-shirts that were stripped and knotted together.

Coats in autumn colors came with oversized shoulders, while models also flaunted flowing dresses in bottle-green, pink or yellow hues.

Others wore burgundy-brown faux-fur coats and were tattooed for the occasion with statements such as “There is no planet B” and “Earth day every day.”

McCartney’s style also privileges comfort and practical looks, such as a khaki jumpsuit cynched at the waist and worn by teen supermodel Kaia Gerber. Others sported clunky, reliable rain shoes.

ISSEY MIYAKE’S KALEIDOSCOPE
Issey Miyake turned a school gymnasium into a catwalk for Paris Fashion Week presenting women’s winter wardrobes in a kaleidoscope of colors.

Designer Yoshiyuki Miyamae sent out models in a mainly dark palette of gray and black coats, jackets and dresses, at times printed, before apple green, purple, yellow and aquamarine creations burst onto the runway.

The brand is known for its pleats as well as use of technology and Miyamae played with volumes and textures in the Autumn/Winter 2019 line, making tops, skirts and coats seem multi-dimensional.

Show notes said the creations were made with a new resin printed “Blink” fabric, meant to resemble a kaleidoscope-like pattern of colors.

“One of the characteristics of this new fabric… is that it starts from something two-dimensional but then when someone wears it, something 3D-like goes into the clothes,” Miyamae said backstage. “So it starts to move and change shape according to someone’s movement or body shapes.”

Prints came in abstract patterns with geometric shapes and swirls, which Miyamae said were inspired by everyday sensations.

A moldable “Dough” fabric, which can be styled and shaped by the wearer, came as a softer, wool-like version in the collection.

Colorful printed coats as well as long-sleeved tops had large or high loose collars. Trousers were loose, legging-like or cropped above the ankle.

“I wanted to achieve this mixture of color, that you sometimes get by chance. For instance, this morning, it was raining quite heavily, but later it became really sunny, so the quality and color of light keeps changing,” Miyamae said.

“I wanted to get this particular instance of lighting, in creating color layers and express what is almost like serendipity, that I get this amazing color like a montage.”

Paris Fashion Week, the last leg of the month-long catwalk season which began in New York before moving to London and Milan, ended on March 5. — Reuters