Paris, Sep 28 (AP/UNB) — The ever-inventive Rick Owens nearly cooked his front row at Paris Fashion Week thanks to a giant burning sculpture, while Indian designer Manish Arora brought the colors of a carnival and Carnival to a zany spring collection that stylishly followed no rules.
Here are some highlights from Fashion Week events on Thursday:
Was it the flame of hell? A cult's symbol? The Tower of Babel?
Editors sitting in the front row for the Rick Owens runway show were certain of one thing: the gargantuan five-legged pyramid that Owens set ablaze suddenly got really, really hot.
Flames ascended meters into the air as smoke created clouds that rose well above the Palais de Tokyo venue.
When the show began, not much explanation was given for the inferno that kept on burning. But it didn't seem to matter, given the reputation for the unfathomable the talented Californian designer has garnered over the years.
Insectoid figures, fashioned from sculptural pieces of garments such as sleeves tied around the body, filed by with cube-shaped antennae.
The stripes of a blackened American flag fluttered off the back of a model in a long black skirt.
Loose filaments that dangled down from straps on supple mini-dresses created fluidity and added to the nice organic feel that many of the designs possessed.
The only element that seemed to hark to the fire theme were some dystopian goddess looks: models dressed in shredded geometric column dresses walking solemnly down stone steps holding burning torches.
In short, it was a typically creative display from Owens.
MANISH ARORA CELEBRATES COLOR AND SOCCER
It was time for Carnival, soccer and celebration at color-loving Manish Arora.
The India-based designer's bright and exuberant creations came alive with wild face paints, incandescent sequins, glimmering silks, giant jewelry and multicolor lacing and stitching.
They were showcased on an outdoor runway just as the sun happened to appear — adding another note of joy.
Myriad ideas came together successfully in a mad sort of runway collage.
Limited edition tops created in homage to France's multicultural Paris Saint-Germain soccer team launched the show.
The faces and names of Brazil's Thiago Silva and France's Kylian Mbappe, who has Cameroonian and Algerian roots, became prints on T-shirts or gathered and loose-fitting sweaters.
Then, bright wraps that might have been worn by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo appeared, followed by African-style jackets with swirling motifs.
Giant bows adorned skirts that would have been appropriate for Carnival in Silva's hometown of Rio de Janeiro.
GAULTIER: THE MUSICAL
Since ending his ready-to-wear line in 2014, Jean Paul Gaultier has been missed on the Fashion Week calendar.
So some editors jumped when the famed French couturier returned this season in a different guise, clearing their afternoons to attend press previews for his new musical-review "Fashion Freak Show."
All the corsets, sparkle and provocation of the 66-year-old's colorful life have gone into the spectacle that chronicles his journey from a nascent designer in 1976 to achieving world-wide fame via Madonna's iconic conical bra in 1990.
It also touches on the darker moments that shaped Gaultier, including the death of his partner, Francis Menuge, from complications from AIDS.
The show is set to open Oct. 2 at the Folies Pigalle theater in Paris.
There's a fresh buzz at Paco Rabanne.
There are two-fold reasons: firstly, because the 1960s space age designs the Spanish-born designer was co-credited with popularizing are again ubiquitous on the Paris runways.
And secondly, momentum has been generated by a series of strong shows by the Puig-owned house's current designer Julien Dossena.
In Thursday's ambitious runway show, there was much to like.
The chainmail and disc link dresses that were signatures of the retired Basque couturier were referenced in golden discs on belts and pendants, and in one hot bejeweled chainmail wrap.
Complex designs with contrasting materials had a nice ornamented feel and conjured up references to the Renaissance in patterning and layering, and even to Imperial China.
Perforated lace collars and long baroque cuffs on a crisp white shirt cut a stylish silhouette with a heavy, glistening black slit skirt.
A tight black minidress with chain hanging had contrasting patterns in the skirt.
The only question is: might these looks be a little hard to wear on the street?
Paris, Sep 25 (AP/UNB) — Dance and theatricality were at the heart of Paris Fashion Week's first day of spring shows, as American stars Blake Lively and Shailene Woodley gushed over Dior's balletic presentation at the famed Longchamps racecourse. While, Gucci held its evening spectacle at France's answer to Studio 54, the iconic Le Palace — once the club that showcased fashion's most dramatic looks.
Here are some highlights from Monday:
DIOR'S ODE TO DANCE
To clouds of falling white petals, dancers clad in patterned bodysuits twisted gracefully to the clicking sound of a metronome.
This season, Dior turned to dance to produce the music and visuals for its spring-summer collection, infused with diaphanous, tulle-rich gowns.
The house enlisted the talents of choreographer Sharon Eyal for a sublime and balletic contemporary dance performance that ran throughout the spring-summer show.
It had the star of "Divergent" and "Big Little Lies," Shailene Woodley, floored.
"You marry dance with fashion and movement and you have a visceral, overwhelming experience," Woodley told The Associated Press.
The runway hall was spacious enough to house the dozen roving dancers thanks to a marquee constructed in the grounds of the historic Longchamps racecourse, which dates to the 19th century and has been the site of some of former Dior designer John Galliano's most memorable couture shows.
As ethereal as a layer of tulle, with the corset replaced by a simple tank top.
That's how the House of Dior described the key idea behind designer Maria Grazia Chiuri's soft and supple 87-piece show in monochrome and nude.
Few risks were taken in this display.
But this didn't matter since the fashion, inspired by a dancer's wardrobe, was primarily aimed at being simple and feminine.
Jumpsuits, straps and cords featured on silhouettes that were either tight on the torso, evoking a leotard, or diaphanous and floaty, channeling a tutu.
Ballet slippers evoked the dance tradition very literally, while open toe heels featured crisscross strapping in a take on a ballerina's shoe.
There was a softness to the entire show, accentuated by the gentle round shoulders that were set off romantically by dappled and misty lighting.
GUCCI AT LE PALACE
Following on from Gucci's May resort show in The Alyscamps, a famed Roman necropolis near Arles, the Milan-based powerhouse continued its year-long love affair with France by hosting its spring show in Paris, exceptionally.
The one-off venue was carefully chosen: Le Palace, the iconic club-turned-theater that was inaugurated in 1978 by Grace Jones who sang La Vie en Rose atop a pink Harley Davidson.
The opportunity to show in this legendary space wasn't squandered by superlatively flamboyant designer Alessandro Michele.
Actress Salma Hayek stared through opera binoculars at the stage from her balcony seat, as a surreal arthouse film was projected on the stage.
Mid-way through the collection, French-English singer Jane Birkin rose suddenly from one of the seats and began singing, then sat back down.
The colorful and wacky men's and women's looks well captured the exuberance of the place dubbed France's Studio 54. It was once the stomping ground for figures such as Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol and Yves Saint Laurent.
The time dial was set to styles from between 1978 and 1985 — the heyday of the club.
Shades, large hats, oversize beads, sequins and glitter were ubiquitous.
Peaked-shoulder tuxedo jackets in white followed a loose leopard print gown with silver shoes.
Demonstrating that the collection didn't take itself too seriously, at one point a model in a gray tuxedo and sneakers strutted out with a real parrot sitting on her shoulder.
Then, a male model with long '70s hair in a preppy striped knit sweater walked out with nothing but pink briefs on his bottom half.
This was perhaps the only instance in this indulgent collection, when less was more.
It was a sight to match even Grace Jones.
LVMH TO REVIVE JEAN PATOU
France's luxury giant LVMH has told the AP it will revive the iconic fashion house of Jean Patou.
One of France's most famous couturiers in between the two World Wars, Patou was credited with popularizing the cardigan, inventing the tennis skirt and killing the flapper style. His house was most closely associated with the perfume "Joy," a rival to Chanel's No. 5 as one of the world's most popular fragrances.
For the relaunch, designer Guillaume Henry, who once revived Carven and worked recently at Nina Ricci, has been appointed as artistic director.
It's the latest in a series of iconic French house relaunches in recent years, including Schiaparelli, Courreges and Poiret.
Striped bikinis and giant hessian bags provided the fun at Jacquemus' simple clothes collection.
It was perhaps less fun for the scantily-clad models who braved the cold September weather on the outdoor catwalk in Paris' Italian Embassy.
Loose silhouettes and large hoopla earrings gave the collection a confident swagger — a little like the 28-year-old wunderkind designer Simon Porte Jacquemus himself.
Oversized pieces of draped fabric that descended from the bust to floor, and giant skirt frills that ran diagonally down the body, provided the collection's more creative moments.
The show perhaps lacked the feeling of luxury normally associated with the Paris catwalks, but it felt fresh and youthful.
London, Sept 16 (AP/UNB) — Victoria Beckham has brought her fashion brand home to London Fashion Week for the first time to mark a decade in the business.
The former Spice Girl celebrated the brand she built up with a glamorous catwalk show early Sunday in an elegant gallery next door to her store in London's tony Mayfair district.
The collection features some of her signature looks and greatest hits, including masculine tailoring, wide leg and slim flare trousers, and fluid, minimal backless gowns.
After the show Beckham kissed and hugged her husband, retired soccer star David Beckham, and her children, who sat among the guests, and gave them a thumbs up.
London, Sept 14 (AP/UNB) — London is starting its stint at the center of the fashion universe as industry leaders express concerns about the potential impact of Brexit.
Top designers including Burberry, Christopher Kane, Victoria Beckham, Erdem and others will be showing new collections in a series of shows that start on Friday.
Anticipation is high, especially with a new creative director at Burberry and a rare London catwalk show by Beckham, the former Spice Girl who has won plaudits for her designs.
But British Fashion Council chairwoman Stephanie Phair told the BBC Friday there are wide concerns about the impact of Britain leaving the European Union.
She says the uncertainty of Brexit plans is making it difficult for the fashion industry to develop a strategy. Britain is scheduled to leave the EU in March.
New York, Sep 11 (AP/UNB) — After two seasons in Paris, Proenza Schouler designers Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough are back at New York Fashion Week— and emphatically so.
With their new collection they've gone all-American in spirit: denim, denim and more denim, with almost no embellishment — no embroidery, feathers or sequins. And though the fabric came from Japan, the collection was entirely made in the United States.
"In Paris you kind of get into all the embroideries and the feather work, and you're relying on all that technique," Hernandez said. "And going back to New York (we thought), 'Why don't we do the whole collection in one fabric, and what if that fabric was denim? What could we do with that? So we really limited the scope of material in a major way."
The collection featured voluminous denim dresses, jackets and skirts, with the latter often covering thigh-high boots. In the place of embellishment techniques, there was tie-dying and acid washing. As for accessories, there were Western-style, bandanna-like scarves across the neck, and tote bags so large it seemed one could fit another human inside them.
This season, the duo also collaborated with Berlin-based sculptor Isa Genzken — "one of our idols," Hernandez said — for inspiration for their designs. When guests entered Monday's show in downtown Manhattan, they were confronted with a large installation by the German artist of mannequins dressed in bits of Proenza garments.
"We sent her some pieces, she ended up making an installation, with the clothes, and we started riffing off the installation and putting it into the collection," McCollough said. "So it was two separate bodies of work, riffing off of each other, in a way."
While the duo was happy to be back in New York, the designers weren't ruling out showing again in Paris one day — or somewhere else.
"I think the beauty of the world we live in today is that things are just more fluid," McCollough said. "Especially a company like ours. We're an independent company. We don't have to be told what calendar to follow, we can bounce around, try things out. We learned a lot in Paris both good and bad, and you kind of build off that and evolve it, you leave the stuff that didn't work behind and keep the new stuff."
"I think what's cool is bouncing around, trying different things out and seeing where it lands."
An advantage of the new pared-down style is that some items are now more affordable than some of Proenza Schouler's more elaborately embellished garments.
McCollough noted that one of the biggest sellers of a recent Paris collection was a long-sleeved, tie-dyed dress priced lower than many bigger-ticket items — which also turned out to be the most attention-getting and most photographed look.
"It got us thinking about clothes in a different way," he said. "Maybe everything doesn't need to be so embellished. Maybe everything doesn't need to be $12,000.