Paris, Sep 25 (AP/UNB) — Dance and theatricality were at the heart of Paris Fashion Week's first day of spring shows, as American stars Blake Lively and Shailene Woodley gushed over Dior's balletic presentation at the famed Longchamps racecourse. While, Gucci held its evening spectacle at France's answer to Studio 54, the iconic Le Palace — once the club that showcased fashion's most dramatic looks.
Here are some highlights from Monday:
DIOR'S ODE TO DANCE
To clouds of falling white petals, dancers clad in patterned bodysuits twisted gracefully to the clicking sound of a metronome.
This season, Dior turned to dance to produce the music and visuals for its spring-summer collection, infused with diaphanous, tulle-rich gowns.
The house enlisted the talents of choreographer Sharon Eyal for a sublime and balletic contemporary dance performance that ran throughout the spring-summer show.
It had the star of "Divergent" and "Big Little Lies," Shailene Woodley, floored.
"You marry dance with fashion and movement and you have a visceral, overwhelming experience," Woodley told The Associated Press.
The runway hall was spacious enough to house the dozen roving dancers thanks to a marquee constructed in the grounds of the historic Longchamps racecourse, which dates to the 19th century and has been the site of some of former Dior designer John Galliano's most memorable couture shows.
As ethereal as a layer of tulle, with the corset replaced by a simple tank top.
That's how the House of Dior described the key idea behind designer Maria Grazia Chiuri's soft and supple 87-piece show in monochrome and nude.
Few risks were taken in this display.
But this didn't matter since the fashion, inspired by a dancer's wardrobe, was primarily aimed at being simple and feminine.
Jumpsuits, straps and cords featured on silhouettes that were either tight on the torso, evoking a leotard, or diaphanous and floaty, channeling a tutu.
Ballet slippers evoked the dance tradition very literally, while open toe heels featured crisscross strapping in a take on a ballerina's shoe.
There was a softness to the entire show, accentuated by the gentle round shoulders that were set off romantically by dappled and misty lighting.
GUCCI AT LE PALACE
Following on from Gucci's May resort show in The Alyscamps, a famed Roman necropolis near Arles, the Milan-based powerhouse continued its year-long love affair with France by hosting its spring show in Paris, exceptionally.
The one-off venue was carefully chosen: Le Palace, the iconic club-turned-theater that was inaugurated in 1978 by Grace Jones who sang La Vie en Rose atop a pink Harley Davidson.
The opportunity to show in this legendary space wasn't squandered by superlatively flamboyant designer Alessandro Michele.
Actress Salma Hayek stared through opera binoculars at the stage from her balcony seat, as a surreal arthouse film was projected on the stage.
Mid-way through the collection, French-English singer Jane Birkin rose suddenly from one of the seats and began singing, then sat back down.
The colorful and wacky men's and women's looks well captured the exuberance of the place dubbed France's Studio 54. It was once the stomping ground for figures such as Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol and Yves Saint Laurent.
The time dial was set to styles from between 1978 and 1985 — the heyday of the club.
Shades, large hats, oversize beads, sequins and glitter were ubiquitous.
Peaked-shoulder tuxedo jackets in white followed a loose leopard print gown with silver shoes.
Demonstrating that the collection didn't take itself too seriously, at one point a model in a gray tuxedo and sneakers strutted out with a real parrot sitting on her shoulder.
Then, a male model with long '70s hair in a preppy striped knit sweater walked out with nothing but pink briefs on his bottom half.
This was perhaps the only instance in this indulgent collection, when less was more.
It was a sight to match even Grace Jones.
LVMH TO REVIVE JEAN PATOU
France's luxury giant LVMH has told the AP it will revive the iconic fashion house of Jean Patou.
One of France's most famous couturiers in between the two World Wars, Patou was credited with popularizing the cardigan, inventing the tennis skirt and killing the flapper style. His house was most closely associated with the perfume "Joy," a rival to Chanel's No. 5 as one of the world's most popular fragrances.
For the relaunch, designer Guillaume Henry, who once revived Carven and worked recently at Nina Ricci, has been appointed as artistic director.
It's the latest in a series of iconic French house relaunches in recent years, including Schiaparelli, Courreges and Poiret.
Striped bikinis and giant hessian bags provided the fun at Jacquemus' simple clothes collection.
It was perhaps less fun for the scantily-clad models who braved the cold September weather on the outdoor catwalk in Paris' Italian Embassy.
Loose silhouettes and large hoopla earrings gave the collection a confident swagger — a little like the 28-year-old wunderkind designer Simon Porte Jacquemus himself.
Oversized pieces of draped fabric that descended from the bust to floor, and giant skirt frills that ran diagonally down the body, provided the collection's more creative moments.
The show perhaps lacked the feeling of luxury normally associated with the Paris catwalks, but it felt fresh and youthful.
London, Sept 16 (AP/UNB) — Victoria Beckham has brought her fashion brand home to London Fashion Week for the first time to mark a decade in the business.
The former Spice Girl celebrated the brand she built up with a glamorous catwalk show early Sunday in an elegant gallery next door to her store in London's tony Mayfair district.
The collection features some of her signature looks and greatest hits, including masculine tailoring, wide leg and slim flare trousers, and fluid, minimal backless gowns.
After the show Beckham kissed and hugged her husband, retired soccer star David Beckham, and her children, who sat among the guests, and gave them a thumbs up.
London, Sept 14 (AP/UNB) — London is starting its stint at the center of the fashion universe as industry leaders express concerns about the potential impact of Brexit.
Top designers including Burberry, Christopher Kane, Victoria Beckham, Erdem and others will be showing new collections in a series of shows that start on Friday.
Anticipation is high, especially with a new creative director at Burberry and a rare London catwalk show by Beckham, the former Spice Girl who has won plaudits for her designs.
But British Fashion Council chairwoman Stephanie Phair told the BBC Friday there are wide concerns about the impact of Britain leaving the European Union.
She says the uncertainty of Brexit plans is making it difficult for the fashion industry to develop a strategy. Britain is scheduled to leave the EU in March.
New York, Sep 11 (AP/UNB) — After two seasons in Paris, Proenza Schouler designers Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough are back at New York Fashion Week— and emphatically so.
With their new collection they've gone all-American in spirit: denim, denim and more denim, with almost no embellishment — no embroidery, feathers or sequins. And though the fabric came from Japan, the collection was entirely made in the United States.
"In Paris you kind of get into all the embroideries and the feather work, and you're relying on all that technique," Hernandez said. "And going back to New York (we thought), 'Why don't we do the whole collection in one fabric, and what if that fabric was denim? What could we do with that? So we really limited the scope of material in a major way."
The collection featured voluminous denim dresses, jackets and skirts, with the latter often covering thigh-high boots. In the place of embellishment techniques, there was tie-dying and acid washing. As for accessories, there were Western-style, bandanna-like scarves across the neck, and tote bags so large it seemed one could fit another human inside them.
This season, the duo also collaborated with Berlin-based sculptor Isa Genzken — "one of our idols," Hernandez said — for inspiration for their designs. When guests entered Monday's show in downtown Manhattan, they were confronted with a large installation by the German artist of mannequins dressed in bits of Proenza garments.
"We sent her some pieces, she ended up making an installation, with the clothes, and we started riffing off the installation and putting it into the collection," McCollough said. "So it was two separate bodies of work, riffing off of each other, in a way."
While the duo was happy to be back in New York, the designers weren't ruling out showing again in Paris one day — or somewhere else.
"I think the beauty of the world we live in today is that things are just more fluid," McCollough said. "Especially a company like ours. We're an independent company. We don't have to be told what calendar to follow, we can bounce around, try things out. We learned a lot in Paris both good and bad, and you kind of build off that and evolve it, you leave the stuff that didn't work behind and keep the new stuff."
"I think what's cool is bouncing around, trying different things out and seeing where it lands."
An advantage of the new pared-down style is that some items are now more affordable than some of Proenza Schouler's more elaborately embellished garments.
McCollough noted that one of the biggest sellers of a recent Paris collection was a long-sleeved, tie-dyed dress priced lower than many bigger-ticket items — which also turned out to be the most attention-getting and most photographed look.
"It got us thinking about clothes in a different way," he said. "Maybe everything doesn't need to be so embellished. Maybe everything doesn't need to be $12,000.
New York, Sep 10 (AP/UNB) — A rosy hue washed over a room at the New York Public Library as models wearing vibrant pinks, greens and blues followed a winding silver line of glitter on a pink carpet. The shimmering line was an homage to late designer Kate Spade at the New York Fashion Week show of her former brand.
Spade, the creator of iconic handbags that became popular for their bright, playful style, killed herself in June after suffering from depression and anxiety for years. Though she and her husband, Andy Spade, had sold the company they co-founded, it still carries her name and wanted to honor its icon Friday as it presented its spring collection.
When guests arrived, there was a note on their seats saying "she left a little sparkle everywhere she went. in loving memory 1962-2018."
Spade, 55, walked away from the company in 2007 and its new owners — Coach, now known as Tapestry — tapped Nicola Glass as its new creative director. Glass' first collection is a modern twist on Spade classics with cheerful patterns of hearts, flowers and, of course, spades. Knee-high boots in unexpected colors that included lavender and sunny yellow popped against silk dresses and high collared blouses.
"So the inspiration really started by going back to looking at the core DNA of the brand. ... To me there was a purity of their design approach, the use of color but also there was always this kind of fun and fun joyfulness, very optimistic. ... I was trying to get the essence of that and interpret it in a new way," Glass said.
The brand known for accessories paired oversized sunglasses with glamorous silk headscarves that channeled Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Signature handbags included pink and purple clutches with bright red hearts, slouchy gingham totes, and yellow and green bucket bags with cutout leather shapes. Unconventional trench coats were sheer pink and flower-spotted. Platform shoes were aimed at style as well as comfort.
Several celebrities came out in support, including actresses Elizabeth Olsen, Suki Waterhouse and Kate Bosworth. Bosworth said she "absolutely loved" the designs.
"This is such a happy brand and she has breathed such beautiful life into the brand while respecting the heritage of it. It's fun, it's happy, it's playful, it's whimsical, and yet also it's high-end and thoughtful," Bosworth said.
Actress and fashion maven Priyanka Chopra said she loved the "spring vibe" of the show and the glittery tribute to Spade.
"I loved that the models were walking on the sparkle. It was so much fun. It was like fairy dust. Amazing," she said.