PARIS – The name Kim Jones dominated Paris fashion for a second week running as the indefatigable Briton who designs for Dior Men’s returned to the runway for his latest couture collection for Fendi.
Following in the steps of the late Karl Lagerfeld at the Roman house’s creative helm is no easy task — but Jones again worked his contemporary sensibility into luxuriant designs to channel the Eternal City.
Here are some highlights of the final day of spring 2022 couture collections:
Fragments of architecture, incandescently lit, were suspended on a dark runway inside the neoclassical Brongniart Palace. Above it, adding to the drama hovered a giant orb of white light. This was, Jones said, the realm of “the celestial Rome” -- reinterpreted by his irreverent eye.
This season’s inspiration seemed, at first, mundane enough: Jones’ walk to work at the Fendi atelier in Rome, where he passes by historic monuments only to arrive in a contemporary environment. Yet, the designs explored a juxtaposition between the his commute's “statuesque marbles” and its “ecclesiastical aesthetics” with another futuristic, very sensual vision.
Models walked out to a flash of a strobe light, in a slick effect suggesting they had just been produced by some heavenly seamstress.
The designs were equally slick. A shimmering black gown with turtleneck and cap evoked a priest’s cassock -- with the model holding a beaded cord. The skirt was slit, her leg exposed, and her head cocked downward provocatively.
Elsewhere, a black silk gown whose embroideries gleamed like armor looked part heavenly princess, part warrior. The model clutched a handbag resembling either a royal orb or spiked ball. The duality was great fashion staging, thrilling guests, including “Prometheus” star Noomi Rapace.
Religious imagery — sadly, sometimes a tad heavy handed — was splashed across duchesse silks and organzas that merged with inches of exposed flesh for this bold take on couture.
FUR FREE FENDI? NOT QUITE
The world’s largest luxury company, LVMH, which owns Fendi, has still not matched its smaller French rival Kering in its groundbreaking pledge to stop using fur.
It has opted instead to scale down the use of exotic skins and fur progressively, as opposed to banning it outright.
One house closely associated with fur historically is the Rome-based Fendi, whose longtime designer Karl Lagerfeld would heap fur onto his designs and coined the phrase “fun fur” to describe his hairy styles. Animal rights activists would perennially protest outside Fendi couture shows in Paris attended by AP.
Since Lagerfeld’s death in 2019, there has been some evolution on that theme at Fendi, although critics say that’s possibly because its younger clients are more sensitive to animal rights.
In Jones’ spring Fendi couture offering, there were no animal rights protesters, and on the runway itself only a relative speckling of fur.
The house said fur was used solely on five looks this season, including an embroidered fur coat and a cape in shaved mink.
Though it’s not fur-free, it’s certainly a case of being scaled back.
YUIMA NAKAZATO’S MONSTERS
Spooks were in the air at Paris Fashion Week, as Japan’s Yuima Nakazato delved into frightening chapters of Greek mythology.
The Chimera, the fire-breathing monster with lion’s head, goat’s body and serpent’s tail was the starting inspiration, transposed in Thursday’s couture by a smoke machine, haunting red light and two contemporary dancers who evoked a Greek Chorus.
Fantasy was ubiquitous.
Elf ears were worn on models with brightly colored wigs in loose tunic-style designs held by primitive cords.
Elsewhere, vivid multicolored prints adorned a Chinese white coat. The dazzling hues, an obvious reference to dragons and fire, seemed heavy handed at times, overpowering the aesthetic.
CHARLES DE VILMORIN SPOOKS
Halloween came early for wunderkind Charles de Vilmorin.
The French designer, who catapulted to fame after launching his couture collection in April 2020 and being quickly named Rochas creative director, was inspired this season by the Death Waltz — a legend from the Middle Ages that suggests you can never escape the grim reaper. Appropriately, “Beetlejuice” director Tim Burton was conscripted to collaborate with the designer this season for a couture display that used de Vilmorin’s signature puffy silhouettes and hand-painted artwork to deathly effect.
An enveloping blood-red satin gown on a model with devil stage makeup was embellished with shrunken skeletons — evoking the final scene of the 1988 movie classic.
Puffy pantaloons in silk, which evoked medieval dress and ended at the knee, conjured up images of the Italian theater. Its model, who wore ballet shoes, had an off-kilter air with red cheeks and was lit spookily in chiaroscuro.
Styles sometimes veered off into pure theatrics, such as in one a feathered hood in bluebonnet and gauche fringed jacket.
Bright color is a big couture theme this season, for better and for worse.
Russian couturier Yulia Yanina went over the rainbow — and possibly over the top — by taking the vivid hues of the rainbow to create her spring collection while forgetting subtlety.
It began with a dizzying tulle cape worn above a multicolored paneled mini dress.
The rest of the exuberant display continued this color theme, while picking up one other of the season’s trends: The 1970’s.
A one shoulder gown had loose proportioned, generous lengths of material and sported billowing retro sleeves.
As if this were not enough bling, a multi-tiered diamond necklace was added to the mix to make Yanina couture surely the most traffic-stopping show thus far.