PARIS – The funfair lights at Louis Vuitton shone as brightly as the starry front row Tuesday for the vibrant and infectious spring collection from Nicolas Ghesquiere that capped Paris Fashion Week.
Dramatic bursts from a tribal drum echoed across the storied cobbles of the Louvre, leading guests to a surreal world of circus mirrors, Las Vegas lights and myriad lattices of tent-like red latex -- where clothes were blown up.
Earlier in the day, a more understated collection awaited guests attending Chanel at the Grand Palais Ephemere for one of the season finale’s other big draws.
Here are some highlights of Tuesday’s spring-summer 2023 collections:
HONEY, I SHRUNK THE MODELS
If Nicolas Ghesquiere raised excitement with the circus-like set that curved like a theater in the round, the fun designs did not disappoint.
This season, the 51-year-old Louis Vuitton designer let his childhood imagination run wild with the theme of blowing up.
Giant zippers accompanied even bigger Monogram “hand”-bags, humongous bow collars, clown-like buttons and enormous unfurling leather sections that evoked the hit movie “Honey I Shrunk The Kids.”
Beyond the obvious gimmicks, there were some accomplished looks in the colorful and youthful collection that was also a playful, contemporary take on regal dress.
Blown up Elizabethan collars -- or were they lifebuoys? -- were given a sporty revamp on loose, ruched gowns and black stomping boots. Elsewhere, the Renaissance collar silhouette traveled down the body playfully on another look at hip level.
There was method in the madness -- the designs’ sheer vibrancy giving a coherence to the collection as a whole.
Ghesquiere perhaps went too far with a leather print series of blown-up zippers, but stand out pieces like an embroidered multicolored apron dress surely made up for it.
Pop icon Janet Jackson looked the model of calm as the cameras jostled around her inside the former royal palace’s oldest courtyard, the Cour Carre, amid the dazzling set lights.
Jennifer Connelly breezed through backstage. Lea Seydoux posed for photographers near fashion’s richest CEO, Bernard Arnault of LVMH, and “House of the Dragon” star Milly Alcock soaked up her new found fame -- a recent addition to the front row crowd. The Australian actress who played childhood Princess Rhaenyra did not forget her humor, lamenting it was “terrible” that her character had to grow up and she be replaced in the hit prequel.
There were so many celebrities that some bewildered fashion journalists just sat down, beaten, with their VIP cheatsheet on their lap.
High-octane scenes like these are the norm at Louis Vuitton -- which since Karl Lagerfeld‘s death at Chanel has become the undisputed highlight of Paris ready-to-wear’s final day. It’s a glamorous bookend to the entire fashion season that travels through New York, London and Milan and always ends in the City of Light.
The Parisian stalwart’s designer, Virginie Viard, gently riffed on the 1980s in an overall simple collection doused in black and white that seemed as if it had nothing to prove.
There were some minor thrills.
A-line minis led the eyes down to flashes of tease -- like white-lattice thigh-high socks. Irina Shayk ravished in a shoulder-less, capped-sleeve marbled gown with ruffled tiering. Jersey was created to be like scales.
And a polka dot leather dress with stiff rippled peplum provided historic musing for the house founded in 1910, nicely borrowing from turn-of-the-century styles.
But the looks that the house compared to “a collage” were very -- sometimes, too — subtly delivered by Viard, who took over from the exuberant Lagerfeld following his death in 2019. The beating heart of this display was understatement.
The decor’s black and white images spanning the ages, including empty historic gardens from the slow-moving 1961 movie “Last Year in Marienbad,” may not have helped the mood — but the 71-look collection felt lacking in energy at times.
Still, accessories provided welcome shots of vibrancy. Jeweled clasps, swinging pearl and jewel pendants and cascading gold necklaces gave pared-down looks an on-trend ’80s feel.
MIU MIU GOES UTILITARIAN
The little sister brand of Miuccia Prada, Miu Miu, went utilitarian for a collection featuring takes on anoraks and handyman pockets — watched by an it-crowd including Poppy Delevingne, Alexa Chung and Pixie Geldof.
With fewer daring design features than normal, Prada used anoraks, zippers and toggles to explore the theme of unfurling and turning things back-to-front.
The front of an amorphous alabaster coat flapped unzipped at the top and bottom. Vests had the label on the front, as if they had been put on the wrong way. And one ecru toggled dress was created to look as if it had been worn back to front.
Later in the 63-look collection, leather designs used the double pockets associated with handymen to fashion low-slung belts, or placed dotted haphazardly across an apron.