PARIS – From the dizzying heights of the Pompidou Center to the lofty halls of the Musee d’Orsay, Paris fashion houses showed off the city’s most monumental art museums on Monday as they near the finish line of ready-to-wear collections.
Guests watched as vibrant fall-winter styles snaked in between marble sculptures, avant-garde installations and Oscar-winning celebrities on the season’s penultimate day.
Not only was Stella McCartney one of the first brands to stage a show atop the French National Museum of Modern Art — but the collection itself was inspired by a contemporary artist.
Louis Vuitton, meanwhile, attracted the stars — including actors Emma Stone, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Connelly and Alicia Vikander — to designer Nicolas Ghesquiere’s study in adolescent experimentations.
Here are some highlights:
A TALE OF TWO STELLAS
Stella McCartney leaned into a '70s aesthetic with pizazz for fall-winter by using a namesake — U.S. artist Frank Stella, known for his geometric patterns — as creative springboard.
A faux-fur striped coat in cream and brown resembling a dressing gown — and channeling the artist Stella’s linear motifs — introduced a retro tone from the outset. It was a rare foray for the normally sporty and contemporary brand but was handled with fun. This first look sported giant statement shoulders and tubular arms, while its big flappy belt looked almost poised to tug the coat open sensually.
Rounded shoulders and large labels — key '70s details — graced more sober-than-normal McCartney styles, appearing in one instance on a long dark coat with generous proportions that evoked the geometric lines of the 85-year-old Stella, who had to sign off on all the runway looks.
McCartney said the process was “really funny because Frank’s really moody and we love him for it.”
Experimentations in fabric were also of note, including a sheeny material (“not latex, not leather”) which appeared on a series of fabulous '70s gowns with shoulder drapes that moved weightlessly. Editors understandably asked the designer what the material was.
“It was made by coating the fabric. I don’t think if you could ever get that kind of movement in real leather, but in faux leather. I was really excited when I found that fabric as it reacted to color so nicely,” McCartney said.
McCARTNEY ON UKRAINE
A message of protest against the war in Ukraine boomed around the Pompidou Center. It was a recording of President John F. Kennedy iconic “A Strategy of Peace” speech given at the American University in Washington D.C. in 1963.
“We do not want a war,” it repeated, prompting McCartney’s front row guests to discuss the dire geo-political events. The show also ended with a song by Paul McCartney’s former bandmate, John Lennon: “Give Peace a Chance.”
“I wanted to let everyone know that, here at Stella, we are anti-war,” Stella told AP after the show. “We feel tremendous sadness for what the people of Ukraine are going through.”
McCartney said that she wanted to address the conflict since continuing with the razzmatazz of fashion seems “a very strange thing to do in the circumstances. So we wanted to make a statement against war and against what’s happened.”
The fashion show was dedicated to the people affected by the conflict, while Stella McCartney made a donation to CARE, an organization providing emergency crisis support to 4 million Ukrainians.
“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what we’re all witnessing in the world,” she added.
MINNIE MOUSE GETS STELLA MAKEOVER
One of the celebrity guests at the Pompidou Center show who was definitely not doing interviews was Minnie Mouse. The loveable Disney rodent made a rare appearance, posing with guests with Notre Dame cathedral visible in the distance, to show off her new fashion look designed by Stella McCartney.
Gone were the famed white bloomers created in 1928. In their place was a sheeny navy blue tuxedo pantsuit created to celebrate empowerment and Women’s History Month.
“Minnie Mouse’s was crafted with responsible materials – offering a new take on her signature polka dots, and dressing her to be a symbol of empowerment for a new generation,” the house said.
The pantsuit will be worn by Minnie at special Disney events.
LOUIS VUITTON’S DRESSING-UP BOX
It was the wilderness of adolescence inspiring Monday’s show by Louis Vuitton — a vibrant ode to romanticism, or the fleeting moments of youth when character is forged for life.
Clashing, grumpy and vibrant looks cut fun, unexpected styles. At times it looked as if the model had grabbed whatever she had in her mom and dad’s closet — some new, some vintage — and put them together to create ensembles with strange, often oversized, trapeze silhouettes.
If it all sounds scruffy, it was not — held together by both creative director Nicolas Ghesquiere’s deft styling, and his eye for balance in shape and bright color. There was also more than a dose of humor and surrealism to the 48-strong display.
In a series of preppy looks, an oversize patterned tie in yellow clashed intentionally with billowing gray woolen high waisted pants. Further on, Ghesquiere got creative with a theatrical gold apron style that had fringed cascading sections that evoked both a scarf and an Elizabethan full skirt. Underneath, to complete the contradictions, lay a gray schoolgirl’s skirt and colorful leather sneakers.
Silhouette-wise, fall introduced a wide and flattened lower midriff — that shot out either side dramatically, as pockets or whooshes of fabric.
Louis Vuitton, of the LVMH group, used the occasion to reveal it has sealed a new long-term partnership with the Musee d’Orsay, which holds the world’s largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art. Louis Vuitton will use its formidable coffers to promote the museum and its associated art collections — that span 1848 to 1914 and dovetail with the birth of Louis Vuitton, originally a trunk maker, in the 19th century.
The fall-winter event marked the first time in history that the museum and former railway station hosted a fashion show. Speaking of the partnership, Ghesquiere said it “resonates with me in so many ways. It’s a museum built on embracing innovation over time, be it through its iconic clock; once-radical technology, such as photography; paintings by modern masters, and its unique place in Paris as one of the most emblematic cultural destinations.”
GIAMBATTISTA VALLI IS LEOPARD FABULOUS
Another designer, another art museum. This time it was the turn of the talented Giambattista Valli, who showcased his winter wares, which riffed on the '60s, at the Musee d’Art Moderne.
The main creative flourish was a brilliant take on prints. Valli stretched a leopard print — like it had literally been elongated on a printer — putting it on an exaggeratedly long pea coat that looked itself as if it had been stretched.
On another look, this stretched leopard print appeared flat on a mini dress like paper printed straight from the machine. And then again in a look with a black bar over the bust area — in a humorous nod to censorship.
The collection also featured historic musing, such as the leopard print that pollinated across some dropped Elizabethan-style cuffs that cut a chic style contradiction with a '60s miniskirt.