Paris Fashion Week
Two by two, Louis Vuitton's models glided down a row of elevators onto a giant checked runway, as the luxury house headlined the last day of Paris Fashion Week with a look fed by conceptual art. Tending towards the 'counter-decorative', last week's Paris fashion brands clearly set themselves apart by showing a strong preference for a more-than-usual minimal style – silhouettes were long, lean and rather 'closed', as outfits had the flat-looking appearance of solid structures.
Curious designers thirsty for new inspirations ventured across the globe, to bring new ideas and exotic cultures to the runways. Bare feet, flip flops, sand, sun and tropical heat: designers brought a generous dose of summer to the catwalks, matching the glorious sunshine that warmed up day the six days of the fashion week. Lebanon's Kayrouz dubbed his latest ready-to-wear line simply Summertime, sending out models barefoot down a sandy runway, to the sound of crashing waves. Sheltering from the sun under wide-brimmed hats, an elegant gold band circling the head, models looked cool and comfortable in fluid tunic dresses of black or taupe silk, some slit discreetly on the spine to let in the breeze.
For the hottest days, designers came up with light chiffon dresses cut on the knee in front and curving down to a simple, fluttering train at the back. And for moderate temperatures, silk tank tops into roomy cotton pants with a drawstring waist, either sand-coloured bermuda short versions, or long pants in luminous mustard yellow were seen on the ramp.
India, home to over a billion people and one of the most colourful cultures in the world – is a limitless creative touchstone for designers. It was surprising to see the Mumbai-born Manish Arora to not delve into India's rich fashion encyclopedia. Arora presented a spicy and bohemian homage to his homeland for spring-summer 2013, with a vibrant infusion of traditional Indian dress and lavish regal jewellery.
US design duo Carol Lim and Humberto Leon set the scene with a giant video of jungle imagery, superimposed with prints inspired by it. As for their men's line unveiled in the summer, the pair drew inspiration from a recent trip to the rainforests of southeast Asia, bringing back a look they billed as "urban safari". With watertight wading boots and safari jackets, a handful of looks were cut to protect from a tropical shower. But most looked like what you would slip into for a stroll once the rain had stopped beating down.
Leather bolero jackets were matched with rustic linen pants for a summery daytime look, while for evening, slender silhouettes with twisted drapes of silk, like a pale lilac stole worn above black pants were a common feature at the fashion week.
Virginal chic was the watchword later as Givenchy unveiled a summer collection of monastic simplicity, demurely chic and deeply luxurious. With a scent of myrrh in the air, the design house set up a distinctly church-like scene. Under the watch of hip hop's Kanye West, among other celebrities present, models stepped out in ballerina chignons, almost nunnish in tops or dresses of layered organza.
Black and white also dominated the show, with flashes of baby blue or dove grey, and monochrome dresses were accentuated with vertical flounces on one shoulder. Balloon sleeves were opened up and fastened to the back with gold metal.
It might be the last fashion week of the season, but Paris always ends things with an explosion of new looks – biker jackets, flower appliqués, full skirts, pleats, and kaftans were some of the highlights of the show.