Gentle pastels colour Chanel haute couture collection
Chanel favoured sensual pastel pinks and greys on Tuesday in a distinctly feminine summer haute couture collection that rejected crass sexuality.
Inspired this season by the early 20th century palette of the French painter Marie Laurencin, a contemporary of Pablo Picasso, designer Karl Lagerfeld sent out what he described as a "very 'pudique'" (demure) collection.
"We are living amid such an invasion of the flesh that we yearn for refinement, for restraint," Lagerfeld told AFP backstage.
"But this mysterious side doesn't have to get in the way of being sparkling. There can be mystery in freshness."
For day wear, Chanel offered its most exclusive clients a spectrum of colours that avoid the pitfall of looking too sugary.
Embroidered tweed jackets were matched with straight-leg black or silver pants, sometimes with a scarf tied around the waist. "That's how our clients wear them today," Lagerfeld explained.
Details included black ribbon chokers worn high on the neck.
For the evening, pink hues prevailed, adorned with sophisticated embroidery involving "at least 10 million" sequins, crystals and glass beads, Lagerfeld said, paying homage to the anonymous artisans who brought the pieces to life.
To model the sleeveless pearly wedding gown that closed the show at the Pavillion Cambon, a stone's throw from Coco Chanel's historic boutique, Lagerfeld called upon veteran top model Kristen McMenamy.
"These days, there are brides of all ages and women who remarry," he said, recalling how he personally accompanied the then-pregnant McMenamy, 45, up the aisle when she married British photographer Miles Aldridge in November 1997.
Celebrities in the front rows included the US actress Kirsten Dunst and Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar, while Lagerfeld's male muse Baptiste Giabiconi -- launching a pop-music career -- sang a cappella for the cameras.
Later on Tuesday, Gustavos Lin, alias Gustavolins, celebrated his promotion into the elite Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture with an intimate show amid the art deco surroundings of the Harcourt photography studios.
Drawing from his training as an architect, Lin injected an oriental element into his distinctive geometric designs, alluding to the Japanese kimono in several of his looks.
With the tango-flavoured Gotan Project version of "Whatever Lola Wants" as the soundtrack, Lin sent out such alluring looks as a knitted cardigan coat with a blue-ink jersey dress slit high up the left leg.
Emerging as wearable art were hand-painted dresses that, Lins told AFP after the show, he personally created upon learning just a few weeks ago that he now ranks alongside Chanel, Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier as an haute couturier.
"Look at my hands, they are horrible!" he laughed. "When I received the call ... I thought, oh, come on, you must do something strong because you cannot be there just with silly dresses."
Stephane Rolland, presenting at the Palais de Chaillot, across from the Eiffel Tower, sent out creations that recalled Greek robes of antiquity with drapes that fell from structured shoulders and hung from necklines.
Oversized metallic-gold pieces ornamented the outfits of rich tans, creams, blacks and browns that one viewer called "surprising." In one piece, thick gold metallic bands had been formed into an intricate bolero jacket.
"I wanted to give light with this collection," explained the young designer, whose creations reflected his sun-kissed upbringing in the south of France, Argentina and the West Indies.
© 2011 AFP