Chanel hosts pared-down show as virus keeps many VIPs away

International

Actors appear in costume at the Louis Vuitton fashion collection during Women’s fashion week Fall/Winter 2020/21 presented in Paris, Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

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PARIS (AP) — Louis Vuitton staged a dazzling cinematic fashion production to cap Paris Fashion Week on Tuesday, with a wall of around 200 human figures dressed in elite fashions spanning human history.

Chanel staged a comparatively low-key affair for Paris Fashion Week as the coronavirus outbreak kept many of the regular VIPs and fashion editors away. The stalwart Parisian design house streamed its show online. Some guests who came to see Chanel’s fall collection up close on Tuesday wore CC-branded face masks.

Restraint was also evoked in Chanel artistic director Virginie Viard’s collection in a marked departure from her showman predecessor and mentor, the late Karl Lagerfeld. Although the display took place at the Grand Palais exhibition hall on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, simplicity was the Chanel “mot du jour” — from the set of tiered white steps to the pared-down aesthetic of monochrome.

Here are some highlights on the last day of Paris Fashion Week for fall-winter 2020 ready-to-wear.

CHANEL SEEKS SIMPLICITY

Chanel artistic director Virginie Viard’s collection for Paris Fashion Week this season was a marked departure from her showman predecessor and mentor, the late Karl Lagerfeld.

“A very simple, very pure momentum. Romanticism, but without any flourishes,” is how Viard described her designs.

Evoking French film director Claude Chabrol’s 1968 film “The Does,” a drama about seduction that focused on bisexual lovers, female models walked the runway together and chatted like intimates for the first looks. The models wore stylish retro black leather boots, ones with a brandy bell-shaped collar at the mid-calf that turned out to be the collection’s leitmotif.

Viard’s simplest designs were the most effective: A black silk bodice dress with the top lobbed off and dropped Juliette sleeves. Modeled by Cindy Crawford’s daughter, Kaia Gerber, it had guests clicking their cameras. Voluminous studded jodhpurs that opened up at the bottom cut a beautiful silhouette.

This design, Viard said, was an homage to Lagerfeld’s personal style. A loose wool jacket in Chanel’s emblematic pink with a soft-spiky collar was also a high point.

The one drawback of the tasteful showing were some of the overly flashy jewelry that often distracted the eye from the show’s central aesthetic.

FUN AT MIU MIU

There has been renewed focus on Miuccia Prada after she announced during Milan Fashion Week that she had hired Belgian designer Raf Simons as co-creative director of the family house that she directed to icon status.

The first show since then for Prada’s little-sister brand, Miu Miu, did not disappoint creatively. The “intellectual” fashion display was a pastiche of itself.

Bright colors, intentionally contrasting checks, faux animal fur and sumptuous shimmering silk gowns merged in divergent ways for disruptive, quirky effects.

Old school glamour came in an emerald green crinkled silk column dress, modeled with 1930s-style wavy hair that looked like it had been left in curlers a little too long.

As expected from Miu Miu, the fun vibe was everywhere: from the patterned runway that confused the eye when a model in a plaid split-leg dress walked it to the knit Cetacean blue bathing suit sweater and bright red furry heels worn by model Bella Hadid.

LOUIS VUITTON’S WALL OF HISTORY

Elizabethan ruffs glistened in the lights alongside medieval two-point hats, pantaloons, exaggerated wigs and crinolines Tuesday at Louis Vuitton’s fall collection in Paris.

Guests marveled as the show began inside the Louvre’s Court Carree to reveal a “wall” full of 200 singers dressed in historic garb — in costumes ranging from the 15th century to the 1950s. Music sounded in a beautiful, stirring harmony.

The “historic grandstand” was the work of Milena Canonero, Stanley Kubrick’s costume designer, who worked on “A Clockwork Orange” and “The Shining.”

Designer Nicolas Ghesquiere called his collection “Collisions of Time” — as the house posed the question: “What if all of the innumerable eras that nourish fashion could come together?”

Sometimes, historic-looking puff skirts with layers in gold gave certain looks a period air, as did bejeweled and embroidered jackets with a semi-circular lapel. But the front row of stars, including Alicia Vikander, Lea Seydoux and Lupita Nyong’o, attested that this show was rooted firmly in the present.

Despite the exorbitantly-priced set piece, and a few garments, the journey through design history in this Ghesquiere showing was unfortunately limited.

Ghesquiere himself described the designs as an “anti-total-look.” Multicolored ski jackets followed pin-striped pants, loose silk knee-length dresses in sparkling tiger prints, black leather ankle boots with a geometric flash of color, and tailored plaid jackets with strong black lapels.

The collection, albeit finely executed, was rather hard to pin down.

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