CHANEL: BUCOLIC BEIGE
The set: Every season, the Grand Palais is transformed into a spectacular show set dreamt up by Karl Lagerfeld. Each set is a meticulous manifestation of his vision for the collection, the women that wear his pieces, and the world in which they inhabit. For couture fall 2015, it was a casino filled with poker tables and spinning roulettes. But for spring 2016, a zen-like Japanese garden with a central three-tiered wooden pavilion — flanked by real trees and encircled by a moat of white lilies under a stylised azure blue sky — served as the backdrop for the Kaiser's latest couture creations.
Inspiration: "The starting point for this collection was the silhouette," declared Lagerfeld. And with that, delivered a springtime wardrobe cast in dreamy shades of bucolic beige — ranging from ecru and ivory to taupe and mocha — that played with inverted volumes: Short tweed jackets with oval sleeves worn with long pencil skirts, or fitted jackets anchored by full skirts or flared culottes.
The collection: Baptiste Giabiconi (Lagerfeld's male muse) started proceedings by walking silently onto set before pressing a door remote to open the central panel of the wooden pavilion. Female models then stepped out with their hair pulled back in an elegant coiled chignon (strikingly reminiscent of a young Princess Leia when viewed from the front) and sporting smartphone pouches (each decorated to match their corresponding outfits) strapped asymmetrically around the waist. For a couture outing, it was all very genteel, ebbing and flowing with a rather down-to-earth vibe as top models the likes of Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Lindsey Wixson (who was featured in the Chanel press release placed on all the seats) studiously pacing the garden in two-tone cork platforms — parading the signature Chanel tweed and bouclé jackets alongside ethereal dresses and separates in pleated chiffon, lamé organza and tulle — all routinely embroidered with bee motifs and fragments and shavings of wood. Yes, wood. (Explains the wooden show invite.)
Favourite looks: The whimsical sand-coloured dress with puffed sleeves in pleated chiffon and a tiered zig-zag skirt, contrasted against a bodice of appliquéd wood chips (look 40); the elegant allure of that strapless gown embroidered with silver paillettes shouldered by a collared cape cut from glittering lamé (look 60); and the structured beauty of the circular-shouldered dress intricately embellished with little flowers, beads and rhinestones (look 67).
The wedding gown: As is custom, the final exit was a breathtaking bridal look. This season, Lagerfeld proferred a tufted hooded jacket worn over a geometric lace strapless dress and train; all crafted from wild cotton and embroidered with chiffon, leather, wood shavings, beads and rhinestones. One for the ecologically minded spring bride.
FROW: Diane Kruger, Cara Delevingne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Monica Bellucci and French actress and model, Marine Vacth.
YIQING YIN: DARE TO BARE
The collection: Unlike most in the craft of couture, designer Yiqing Yin holds court with her skin-baring ways — sensuality has definitely become one of the tropes of her collections. Draped flowing fabrics compensated for the translucent barely-there camisoles (looks 1, 3 & 4), and rope work (looks 11 & 22) fostered the parade of skin.
Opposites attract: Interspersed with the audacious ensembles were modest creations spun from fur and leather: An off-shoulder fur gown (look 25), a fur vest with an assymetrical hem (look 26), and a trench layered over a cinched leather outer (look 27). And, for effect of contrast, the well-lit runway at the Ecole de Médecine turned pitch-black for the final look — all eyes were on the toga-cut black number layered under a wire structure illuminated with pin-dot bulbs (look 29).
Favourite look: The fluid sequin chain-mail suit jacket styled off-the-shoulder and over a braided risqué inner sash (look 5).
GIORGIO ARMANI PRIVÉ: ROYAL RESPLENDENCE
Purple fixation: Like his previous collection, Mr. Armani demonstrated loyalty to a select few hues. And for spring it seems, the designer was in a mood for purple — the colour of royalty. That, and the indespensible inky black and blues that contrasted his sweeping confections in lilac, lavender and mauve encrusted with beadwork and paillettes.
Silver screen sirens: Perfectly coiffed shoulder length curls, sooty lids and full lips — the trademark of the moving picture glamour girls from the first half of the 20th century. A couturier that many modern starlets — Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore and Naomi Watts — turn to for the red carpet, the hair and makeup of the designer's spring runway reinforced his stature as a couture craftsman to the cinematic celebrities.
Playing with proportions: Skirting the pizzazz of the empire-waisted gown — the designer's signature silhoutte — and leaving that for last (looks 51, 55 & 57), Armani kicked off the collection on his own (brand new) terms. Bolero jackets with flowing sleeves in ombréd purples and metallic shorts (looks 4, 9 & 10) took the runway by psychedelic storm, while razor sharp suits — from fall 2015 — were replaced by sheer pant suits sugar-coated with ruffles (looks 8 & 23).
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