Paris haute couture opens to high theatrics, glam

6th July 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 6, 2006 (AFP) - Paris haute couture week kicked off in star-studded, dramatic style on Wednesday, with John Galliano's theatrical vision of the Renaissance for Christian Dior and plenty of high-glam sheen at Valentino.

PARIS, July 6, 2006 (AFP) - Paris haute couture week kicked off in star-studded, dramatic style on Wednesday, with John Galliano's theatrical vision of the Renaissance for Christian Dior and plenty of high-glam sheen at Valentino.

With A-list Hollywood stars Liv Tyler, Drew Barrymore and Mischa Barton, as well as US singer Cher, making for a glamorous Dior front-row, the flamboyant British designer again dipped, in his inimitable way, into a bygone age.

And he came up with a series of medieval-inspired theatrical tableaux for autumn-winter 2006-07 verging at times on a costume drama, but he also captured a spirit of other-worldliness.

He chose a genteel Tuscan garden as his backdrop, zapping to different musical styles for each new episode, with themes that brought to mind mermaids, jesters, statues or even knights, not least because of helmet headresses.

And then he switched again to 1940s elegance, or the energy of punk.

As a starting point he had taken the 1942 French movie 'Les Visiteurs du Soir' by Marcel Carné set in the 15th century in which the Devil sends two minstrels to Earth to wreak havoc on hapless mortals.

According to the fashion house's style notes, the film had inspired Galliano to look again at the work of Renaissance artists, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli and Jan Van Eyck.

Gowns were masterfully built around bits of shiny armour, covering just one arm, shoulder or leg, or were reinforced to stand off the hip like a bustle, channelled into a fishtail.

Kicking off in metallic mode, the gowns moved into softer draping.

Then, heavy guitar signalled a new 'tableau,' and high-energy red and black took over, for a tiered skirt made up of folded plastic encircling and standing off the waist like a concertina.

Equally impressive was a voluminous green textured mass of cut-out fabric moulded into an oversized tulip-skirt. Nevertheless, a number of gowns were not far off being red-carpet ready.

At Valentino, the legendary Italian couturier had every glamorous eventuality covered, from warm smart daywear to chic cocktail hour, an evening at the opera, not forgetting, of course, floor-sweeping gowns.

Fitted jackets and rounded full skirts falling sweetly above the knee or sleek pencil skirts underscored Valentino's love of the feminine form. His eye for detail was evident in the fabrics and rich embroidery.

Russian culture was referenced in white embroidery on black wool, while gold was ever-present, such as in an eye-catchingly warm-hued, red wool tweed suit with gold flower embroidery and velvet inserts.

Valentino often accompanied his outfits with little bolero jackets; a tulle balloon-sleeved version was elegant on a satin strapless dress, one of three elegant black dresses to wrap up the show.

But overall the palette was lighter - champagne, beige, grey, gold and black with occasional bordeaux or white. Light luxurious fabrics created motion as the clothes moved.

Maison Martin Margiela's quirky take on couture saw garments and accessories such as ski gloves, 1950s knit twin sets and men's dress socks reworked by hand into highly original pieces.

With old ballet shoes gathered for a previous collection piled high, the fashion house showcased its 'artisanal' line for women and men in the store room of the person responsible for scouring the globe for the 'raw materials.'

Highlights included a frothy white blouse made of children's party frocks with one entire dress used to create each of the balloon sleeves, and sculpted jeans made from the belts of vintage leather trench coats.

Karl Lagerfeld unveils his latest haute couture collection for Chanel on Thursday, followed later in the day by shows from France's Christian Lacroix and Givenchy.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

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