Feathers and fountains at Chanel, romance at Valentino
Karl Lagerfeld conjured the spirit of Versailles for Chanel Tuesday in a glamorous procession of feathers, faux-tweed, rips and lace, while at Valentino the mood was all delicate, diaphanous romance.
Under the vast glass domes of Paris' Grand Palais exhibition hall, models walked out on white gravel between fountains and black rock "hedges", a wintry French garden effect to showcase Chanel's ready-to-wear look for next summer.
Actress Keira Knightley and singers Lily Allen and Courtney Love were among the famous faces who graced the front rows as the hall filled with a symphonic orchestra's renditions of pop anthems from Bjork to Oasis.
"It's Versailles. It's -- quote -- 'dead French'," the designer quipped after the show.
Models wore silver or gold platform ankle boots or platform sandals that morphed into black leather thigh boots, their hair pulled back into slick pony tails or cut short and boyish.
Chanel classics were there -- but sexed-up and revisited -- like faux-tweed skirt suits in pastel yellow and pink, or jackets twinned with risque mini-shorts in black, ivory or lime green.
A navy blue knitted dress flowed into a see-through pencil skirt that left the top of the thighs -- and even a bit more -- completely bare.
Ostrich feathers puffed out a jacket, spiced up the hem of a tweed-effect dress, or clothed a model head to toe, in a coral sleeveless dress that swept caressingly around the legs.
Both the decor and feathers, Lagerfeld said, were a tribute to the enigmatic 1961 film "Last Year in Marienbad", set partly in a French chateau garden, for which Coco Chanel designed the costumes.
Dayside fabrics were given a roughing-up, with ripped holes piercing black and white jackets, while a baby-pink satin dress had rectangular panels of slashed strips like shredded paper.
Skinny grey jeans had ripped featuring too, creating tiny holes that gave a peek at the pink or yellow underneath.
"Fashion changes, fabrics change -- that's what is fascinating. But there has to be a certain mystery in novelty," Lagerfeld told reporters of the show's trompe l'oeil tweed, rips and other quirks.
For evening, Chanel's trademark black was back en force, with 1980s top model and former face of Chanel, Ines de la Fressange, closing the display in a black lace gown of opaque and see-through stripes.
"We've seen enough of 15-year-old Russians," he told AFP after the show. "Fashion shouldn't be reserved to teenagers."
There was not a pair of pants in sight at Valentino, where a diaphanous blouse was the starting point for an ultra-feminine summer look that layered organza, tulle and chiffon in subtle, tone-on-tone plays on transparency.
Walking in step to an electro version of Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings", the models wore romantic knee-length dresses, or jackets paired with shorts and skirts -- all variations on a vintage blouse.
Cut sleek and close to the body, light-as-air knee-length dresses layered sheer organza, flecked with delicate polka dots in black and white, over caramel or dusty pink petticoats to create a sensual nude effect.
Collars were modestly high, fastened by small ribbon bows, flounced, or rounded with fine black hemming, while sleeves were either short, with flounces, or long and draped over the wrists.
Hair was loosely plaited, there were gentle ruches at the breast, wrists and shoulders, while elegant closed-toe heels in nude pink or sand completed the look imagined by designer duo Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli.
Mini-shorts -- a strong trend this season -- were black silk, overlaid with a sheer black blouse with a tiny leather handbag, or cut from a denim effect fabric, with red stitching and matching double-breasted jacket.
Come cocktail time, there were intricately embroidered dresses, with a black organza knee-length skirt and long-sleeved top in white.
And for evening the dresses -- still sheer white or black see-through over caramel -- grew long, diaphanous skirts, ornate flounces and details like an organza flower adorning one shoulder.
© 2010 AFP