PARIS – Naomi Campbell and Carla Bruni returned to the Paris runway to feverish screams to help Olivier Rousteing celebrate his 10-year anniversary at the creative helm of Balmain.
Thousands of camera-snapping guests — mostly from the general public — crammed inside the concert complex La Seine Musicale on the outskirts of the city in anticipation of one of the biggest Paris Fashion Week shows this season.
In fact, on Wednesday the exuberant designer went far beyond a show. He put on a veritable fashion-music festival over two days, complete with merchandise stands, food and champagne stalls and performances. But it all began by a special homage by one of Rousteing’s celebrity admirers.
Here are some highlights of Spring 2022 collections in the City of Light:
HIS DECADE AT BALMAIN
An emotional recorded message by Beyoncé opened the evening show, paying tribute to the 36-year-old French designer who she said strove to put diversity at the heart of his fashion.
You “brought a new mindset to help persuade fashion to finally begin to reflect the real true beauty of today’s streets, the beauty that you and your team see a daily on the diverse impressive boulevards and avenues of your beloved Paris,” she said. ”For ten years you have been determined to keep pushing that door open... wide open."
To her smash hit “Halo,” Campbell, 51, and Bruni, 53, strutted out at the high-octane show celebrating a decade of inclusive designs.
Rousteing has been known to use his displays as opportunities to increase awareness. Last year during couture, he notably threw his weight behind the Black Lives Matter movement.
But Wednesday was about celebration. From the stiff, structured '80s silhouettes of his beginning steps, via slinky gold and metal gowns, the exhaustive collection walked through archives pieces from all the Rousteing years. Hoods, low slung waists, long flapping straps, cinched waists, jewels and those famous giant shoulders featured in scores of looks that merged together encyclopedically. In signature form, the clothes featured on myriad models of all colors, ages and sizes.
The fashion production electrified the room — an audience made up of fashion editors as well thousands of members of the public. Its sheer length was uncomfortable for some, delivered amid the sweltering auditorium heat. But thousands waited well into the night to see the festivities continue — including a concert by British band Franz Ferdinand.
ROCHAS IS ECLECTIC
The golden columns of the gilded Mona Bismarck Hotel set the mood for the oft-resplendent Rochas display to a reduced crowd of fashion insiders.
It began with a shimmering ruched gold dress and statement giant gold pirate boots. It was the piece de resistance. This was designer Charles de Vilmorin in bold, eclectic form.
The show's notes spoke of a “strange beauty” and “cinematic vignettes” that this collection would try to evoke. It was successful in that. Rochas' floating forms, including tumbling parachute skirts, captured an ethereal, otherworldly vibe.
Loose, oversized proportions in skirts and pants, and ubiquitous ruching and ruffles endowed this show with a light, floaty feel. On more than one occasion, spiny detailing gave de Vilmorin’s designs a feel for Dutch couture designer Iris Van Herpen.
However, there were perhaps too many creative ideas here, including a Balkan-style leather tunic dress followed by Glam Rock boots.
THE ART OF THE INVITATION
Paris Fashion Week is back — after a year of going mainly digital. And with it are the gasoline-guzzling couriers who crisscross Paris to personally deliver ever-elaborate, often handmade, show invitations.
The age of email and rising environmental awareness doesn’t seem to have left much of a mark on the fashion industry’s antiquated system of invitations. Top houses vie for the wackiest or most imaginative idea, which often bears a clue as to the theme of its runway collection.
Valentino’s invite featured artistic slides of images of Parisian cafes, models and excerpts of French poetry.
Yves Saint Laurent’s was a black snake leather holster with a huge “YSL” logo weighing it down in gold metal. Embossed inside were the initials of the invited guest, also in gold.
COURREGES IS SPORTY AT 60
On its 60th anniversary year, the Space Age house of Courreges was in fine form, touting the sophomore collection of its latest designer Nicolas Di Felice.
In a season where the 1960s seem to be in, the generation-defining brand founded in 1961 by André Courrèges and his wife Coqueline may well be having its moment.
Flashes of that era’s slim silhouette, and its retro mini dress, were in abundant supply on Wednesday. Those mixed with the signature Space Age sheen — seen in wading boots that made for a very sexy statement indeed.
But the show’s setting of a grassy field was the main clue to its direction this season: The sporty equestrian. A baseball cap was a take on a horse-riding helmet alongside a flared pant with a fringed hem cleverly resembling a shire horse’s leg. Oversize earrings resembled a quick release knot from a stable.
The pared down palette contrasted nicely with the odd flash of bright cadmium yellow or azure to give this slick collection a youthful feel.
FASHION FOR ALL BODIES
Raising money and awareness for the victims of war, French first lady Brigitte Macron will join Defense Minister Florence Parly and other top officials at the Hotel des Invalides on Wednesday evening for an unusual Paris Fashion Week show.
A new collection by Italian designer Fabio Porlod will feature female amputees and women who have been injured. They will walk at the monument, which is the final resting place of Napoleon.
France’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday that “the initiative is part of a charity evening whose funds raised will improve the living environment of seriously wounded war victims, victims of attacks and people hospitalized at the National Institution of Invalides.”
Thomas Adamson can be Twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K