PARIS (AP) — Celebrities met designs replete with sparkle and tailoring at the start of Paris Couture Week Monday. Here are some highlights of the fall-winter 2016 collections including show reports from Dior, Atelier Versace, Giambattista Valli and Schiaparelli:
DION AT DIOR
Seldom seen at the Paris fashion shows, francophone superstar Celine Dion triggered media mayhem on arrival at Christian Dior’s couture atelier show Monday dressed in a demure Dior charcoal pantsuit.
The singer, who’s performing in France as part of her European tour, made an emotional return to the stage last month and was all smiles at the fall-winter couture show despite having endured a difficult year in which she lost both her husband and her brother.
The 48-year-old singer patiently posed for photos with fans before hanging off the bannister of Dior’s iconic atelier at 30 Avenue Montaigne, the venue for the show, to soak up the adulation and iridescent flashes.
The attention even eclipsed that of Johnny Hallyday, France’s answer to Elvis, who also attended and had one screaming woman, in advanced years, trying to scale a barricade just to get close.
DIOR RETURNS TO THE ATELIER
It is twilight season for Christian Dior, a house which has still not replaced its lauded designer Raf Simons.
Fittingly, the theme of Monday’s show was a return to the atelier — both geographically and creatively — in a collection almost exclusively realized in black and white.
It was, so said the program notes, a color juxtaposition that the late Monsieur Dior himself loved.
But it was, at heart, just a strong care-taker show that played it safe.
Interim designers Serge Ruffieux and Lucie Meier linked the monochrome to their personal creative elemental duality, masculine and feminine, in a show that riffed on menswear tailoring and draping. It was delivered on rather low-key sandal flats with reductive Cleopatra-style eye make-up.
There were experimentations with the archives in the 45 looks. They included modern variations on the New Look, the style that made Dior’s name in 1947 and reintroduced material lengths to European audiences following the restrictions of World War II.
It made for a creative play in one loose, delicate Bar Jacket embroidered with sequins and silver thread and elsewhere on a skirt in ecru wool silk that had a creative, dropped voluminous feel.
VERSACE FRONT ROW
Season after season, Donatella Versace wields her enviable address book at Paris Fashion Week to add magic to the Versace brand. Sunday’s late show was testament to this, boasting actors Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Garner and model Naomi Campbell on the front row — kitted out, of course, in Versace.
All eyes were on Garner, who rocked an Atelier Versace silk cady dress from the fall 2016 collection with pale blue inserts and a high slit, as she chatted engagingly with her “Alias” co-star, Cooper, who looked relaxed in a black hooded bomber.
Campbell had the best look, though, revealing enviable inches of leg in a fully beaded Versace micro dress — that at times impeded her mobility — and a matching beaded bomber.
“It’s too short,” Campbell exclaimed at one point, as she tried to negotiate herself around the front row to chat with some acquaintances.
VERSACE IS CAUGHT IN THE MOMENT
Atelier Versace experimented with dramatic form in its twisty, crisscrossed and draped ode to female empowerment.
Though this was a carefully planned spectacle and with models who walked more slowly than we’ve come to expect from Donatella — the aim of the designs, including silk gowns and pant looks, was to evoke spontaneity.
This was achieved with some success via draping and volume play with details of the clothes caught still in time.
Draped duchesse satin was dramatically twisted, for instance, as if frozen in a moment.
The program notes called it “an exploration of form that runs through the collection.” It was seen again in creative twisted knots of leather in high heels that fell with purposeful nonchalance. At times, they perhaps seemed overly floppy.
Elsewhere, clusters of Swarovski crystals glistened on a cashmere coat with back draping.
“I love the elegance, sophistication and drama of today’s woman,” Versace said of her show.
The 34 looks were all of that, but could have perhaps benefited from a small shot of energy.
SCHIAPARELLI’S CIRCUS SHOW
Bertrand Guyon’s third collection for Schiaparelli delved into the history of the storied house, drawing inspiration from the couturier’s influential Circus collection of 1938.
It lent itself well to a show full of sheen, shoulder and eccentricity.
Large surrealistic embroidered motifs sparkled with images of butterflies, circus balls, eyes, lips and one silver gown shimmered elegantly with a Ferris wheel set amid a funfair.
Elsa Schiaparelli, who died in 1973, famously mixed into her designs references to her great surrealist friends who included Salvador Dali.
Guyon stayed close to this heritage.
Like a flamboyant circus costume, a midnight velvet column dress sported exquisite straight, stiff arms that stood up squarely above the model’s physical shoulder. It cut a unique silhouette against a sheer midriff and a gold bar covering the nipples.
But the real devil was in the back detail.
Like in the ’30s, Schiaparelli’s heyday, backs were scooped, draped and accentuated in eveningwear, drawing in the eye. It was a simple, yet effective formula.
GIAMBATTISTA’S VALLI GIRLS
Fashion master Giambattista Valli played with size, proportion and dimension in a typically perfected couture display.
The Italian-born designer began with figurative versions of the Babydoll silhouette — the famed ’50s nightie style that flares out at the hip with puffy sleeves.
The first in a series of white gowns had creatively gathered — and purposefully off-kilter — segments in the sleeves that came across as abstract, yet feminine.
They soon merged into floor-length diaphanous silken gowns with Grecian-style gathered, or segmented, detail around the bust.
As ever, the color palette was reductive — with white, black, pale blue with flashes of bold red.
But it was handled with panache and subtlety.
It made some fashion critics wonder why he has not reportedly been touted for the Christian Dior top job.
IRIS VAN HERPEN
Science again met fashion for Iris Van Herpen Monday, a designer who delved into ready-to-wear but has come back with a vengeance on the couture calendar.
And the Dutch wunderkind produced a fantastical 3-D couture display worthy of her many recent creative accolades.
Seeking to show sound waves as evolving patterns in the 12 gown display, the 32-year-old’s designs, as ever, possessed an organic, sensual feel.
The creations seemed to riff off blown up inner-flesh — or else, sea-dwelling crustaceans parading in a coral reef.
New techniques of material-making were on display in fabrics that were created via Swarovski water drop crystals covered in transparent silicon or thousands of hand-blown glass bubbles.
Needless to say, the ever-sexy gowns bore inches of leg.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP
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