PARIS (AP) — Valentino’s Paris fashion show on Sunday saw black cars snared for blocks dropping off battalions of celebrities who, amid the commotion, just couldn’t find the entrance.
Seated VIP guests were sweatily crammed in together inside the Le Marais’ Carreau du Temple venue, waiting as the show started an hour late. Outside, screaming members of the public braved the rain for hours just for a glimpse of their favorite stars.
Fever pitch like this at Paris ready-to-wear fashion shows is reminiscent of the French capital's pre-pandemic fashion scene — and one more visible sign the industry is buoyant again after the devastation caused by the coronavirus.
Here are some highlights of Sunday's spring-summer 2023 collections in Paris:
“Cuts and transparencies reveal the persona,” the brand said of designer Pierpaolo Piccioli’s glitzy spring collection that mixed gimmicks with moments of thoughtful fashion skill.
Models with faces and necks completely covered in disturbing interlocking “V” make-up began the show, introducing the theme of the reveal.
The exploration of inside-out or back-to-front continued in a beautiful nude skin-like top with matching nude pants speckled sparingly with diaphanous plumes on model Anna Cleveland.
A coat had ostrich feathers peaking out from inside through the hems. The sides of some dresses were scooped out, while a dazzling purple sequined floor-length gown revealed the model’s flesh only at the back.
Yet at times it felt as if the lauded Italian designer may have tried to fit too much in. By outfit number 91, it also felt exhausting -- with fashion insiders fidgeting for the show to wrap up.
The Valentino finale was the true reveal of the show, which was livestreamed: The models did not even walk past seated guests as usual, but straight outside to the cheering general public.
THE ART OF THE INVITATION
The art of the chic invite is still very much a staple of the Paris luxury industry.
The little works of art sometimes provide a hint as to what the collection has in store; other times, they are just plain wacky.
Balenciaga’s spring invite was -- unfathomably -- a real used leather wallet containing real French franc notes, a health security card, a photo of a pet cat, and credit cards as well as other things spilling out. Countless videos appeared on social media of surprised guests opening their “invite.”
One fashion inside exclaimed: “But how do you know how to get to the show?”
Valentino's invitation was a smooth black cube that opened to have nothing inside but a QR code. Chanel’s was a card of Kristen Stewart’s face that was so big it could not fit into letter boxes.
BARBARA BUI IS SMART
Low-key French designer Barbara Bui is a good example of how the pandemic affected the fashion industry -- for better and for worse.
Many houses went digital during the lockdowns, opting to show a fashion film instead of staging a show, which was for many months prohibited. In this spring Paris season -- like in Milan’s -- the industry seems to be very much back to pre-pandemic runways, yet Bui’s was one of a spattering of collections that continued with the fashion film format.
It’s a smart move: Smaller houses like Bui’s have benefited from the new flexibility as runway collections are clearly much more expensive to produce.
The collection's spring video featured a couple of lovers in a French country house seeking each other out and seemingly wearing each other’s clothes -- a good theme for a co-ed fashion show.
The film's use of light sat well with the fluidity of a loose white tuxedo suit on a bare chest, or a giant multicolored foulard thrown nonchalantly over the male model’s naked shoulder. A cobalt blue one-shoulder piece was set off by the male model’s long bright red and androgenous nail polish.