My Paris Fashion Week Picks

For me, the Valentino show rocked the runway at last week’s Paris Fashion Week, and I can’t wait for these fashion designs to impact interior design. The Vogue review described the collection as containing “some dresses that made time stand still,” and it was no exaggeration.

Not to be upstaged, other designers debuted enough over-the-top, outrageous and daringly down-to-earth “design” to keep both the ready-to-wear and home décor industries busy until next runway season.

Valentino’s romantic exotica

Yannis Vlamos

Vogue described this collection as “Venetian-pagan romanticism.” That’s pretty close. Every model wore a snaky tiara, and body chains finished many dresses. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Cleopatra herself had walked in with Mark Antony at her side.

And what wasn’t Egyptian looked painterly—pre-Raphaelite painterly. The embellishment on all the fabrics was to-die-for—romantic velvets and brocades in lush jewel tones, overlaid with applique and embroidery, shot with light-catching metallic threads. The fabric in the gown on the right reminded me of a Klimt painting, and I’m pretty sure if I ever got close enough I’d make a grab for that coat in the photo next to it.

Join the cover-up

Yannis Vlamos

Speaking of coats, Jean Paul Gaultier’s collection was all about layered tailoring as models worked dusters, smoking jackets and vests against outfits made for nightclubbing. Like the Valentino collection, fabrics were highly embellished, shot with metallic, and often encrusted with sequins.

I loved the Snorkel Blue jacket on the left with the corseted black midriff and animal print styled from sequins. Ties appeared in more than one outfit, as did hues of copper—the metal of the moment. I especially loved the fun with checks and stripes in the outfit second from right.

Parade of attitude

Kim Weston Arnold

I loved Ulyana Sergeenko’s collection for its attitude and for featuring the beauty of the models. So many of the couture collections either dress their models in identical clown makeup and wigs or parade them as half-starved, drug-addicted waifs with no makeup and stringy hair. I guess the point is to focus on the clothes, but that’s like saying you can only admire a great painting in an empty room.

All Sergeenko’s models wore black leather newsboy caps (in a nod to her native Russia) with wisps of hair romantically escaping. Designs were form-flattering rather than form-flattening, and the makeup was, well, just pretty. Vogue thought the collection full of excesses and a tad costumey. While there was that side to it, I found a lot to love. The outfits pictured here are easily transferrable to ready-to-wear. I am, in particular, crushing on that evening bag in the first photo—a cat? A small dog? And, of course, the pale yellow fur coat with just a shot of pink, which reminds me of a pillow I need to order.

Earth, wind and fire

Yannis Vlamos/Monica Feudi/Kristy Sparow/Vlamos/Vlamos

I’m green with envy over the lush shades of peridot that dotted many of the collections. Givenchy gets rave reviews for the gorgeous Grecian wrapped gown, pictured second. It took a walk on another runway over the weekend—dressing actress Julianne Moore at the SAG Awards. The tailored black gown with the ebullient green tie in the next photo is from the Dice Kayek collection. The other three gowns are by Valentino, all swoonworthy in my book, all very pre-Raphaelite again.

Yannis Vlamos/Yiqing Yin/Vlamos/Vlamos/Vlamos

Reds, oranges and crossovers coral and rust made showings as well. Not that they dominated any collection, but when they “spoke,” all heard and saw. More Egyptian cum pre-Raphaelite from Valentino on the left, followed by an intricately wrapped gown by Yiqing Yin, and three spectacular layered outfits by Jean Paul Gaultier. The “face design” on the dress second from right is strategically placed, like a haute couture string bikini, but overall the picture is so striking in black and red, especially topped off by that sequined cigarette-girl hat and embellished heels.

The runways were also full of warm neutrals—taupe, champagne, gold, and coppery bronzes, as well as classic black—a reflection of what’s already happening in interior design.

A nod or a wink to Picasso et al?

Alessandro Garofalo

Viktor & Rolf, self-described “fashion artists” who regularly test the limits of wearability, added a note of spontaneity and fun to the week. All 22 of its creations were Cubist variations on a white pique polo dress. It started out cute and wearable (left) and progressed gradually to outrageous to impossible to wear (right). No models tripped or fell, thankfully.

“The collection would have amounted to little more than an exercise in well-executed appropriation were it not for the 3-D construction and impressive pattern work,” Vogue wrote. “[Rolf] Snoeren used the word rigorous to describe the process and explained how the all-white lineup permitted a likeness to plaster or marble.”

As you can see, the earlier dresses weren’t too out of reach for everyday wear, and a capsule collection of 100 tops and tunics was already available for order at Moda Operandi on Saturday.

Just say no!

Ronald van der Kemp/Pascal Le Segretain/Yannis Vlamos/Kim Weston Arnol

These dresses are more like interior design trends that worked their way backwards to fashion, where they weren’t nearly as functional or attractive. Toile never really goes out of style in wallpaper, draperies or upholstery, but this Ronald van der Kemp toile design (left) looks like the curtains Scarlett O’Hara might have fashioned into a dress had the bedroom draperies survived Sherman’s march rather than the green velvet ones from the parlor. Didn’t someone try toile clothes a decade or so ago? It’s still a bad idea.

The Schiaparelli in the next photo is worse still. Was it someone’s tablecloth or kitchen wall mural? And what’s with the Raggedy Ann fright-wig hair all the Schiaparelli models sported? I actually love the fabric in the Christian Dior dress next in line but am tired of waist-plunging necklines few women would try and fewer still could pull off. Some of us CAN’T go without bras, and we consider it a plus rather than a fashion flaw. This dress has lovely covered buttons up one side of the neckline, so how about adding some matching loops on the other side to give the wearer options? The barely-there, may-as-well-be naked look was rampant in many of the collections and made me shiver—not in shock, but because I’m always cold and can’t imagine wearing so little.

Zuhair Murad, who designed the dress on the far right, debuted a collection with more than one ultra-feminine, graciously girly gown, but I couldn’t go with this birdcage skirt that showed up in too, too many of his short styles. “You could say I wanted to put women in a gilded cage,” he admitted to Vogue backstage. Ahem. Not going there, Zuhair. Sorry. Too bad about these dresses, though, because the fabric, construction and embellishment were stunning.

Murad’s atelier does a big business in the bridal industry, which shows. But many of his gowns, though gorgeous, would be best worn by a Barbie doll. Although Rose Quartz and Serenity was certainly around during fashion week, it swamped this collection.

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