Louis V, Miu Miu and Elie Saab wrap French fashion week
PARIS -- Marc Jacobs, more than anyone, knows that it's not what you say but how you say it. The Louis Vuitton showman thus capped an incredibly strong Paris fashion week -- with help from artist Daniel Buren -- by building a life-size shopping mall inside the Louvre.
Understatement is not a word in Jacobs' vocabulary, so a collaboration with the minimalist artist -- who made the famed striped columns in Paris' Palais Royal -- might have raised eyebrows. But Buren rose to the occasion.
"(The Louvre) was already big, all I did was make it bigger," said Buren, with trademark humor. "It was others that called me a minimalist, not me."
The sky's the limit when you're backed by Europe's richest man and LVMH-owner Bernard Arnault, with whom he mingled before the show.
Meanwhile, Miuccia Prada, who herself presides over a lucrative fashion empire, felled a small forest in aid of her presentation for Miu Miu, one of the final day's other big shows. Fashion insiders clutched wooden invitations as they walked down a wooden "red carpet" and into the auditorium with a 30-meter (yard) wooden runway, and the show's huge wooden-tiered seating.
There was some irony that the collection was held at Paris' grand Environmental Council.
Paris Fashion Week designers are often described as show-stopping, but none more than Elie Saab. The Lebanese designer threw huge graphic chunks of moon rock down the catwalk as set, to evoke his more geometric theme. Unfortunately, one attendee didn't pick up on the visual props and tripped head over heels -- slightly delaying the show.
Trends on the ninth exhausting day of the season included prints -- both graphic and colored -- as well as sheer transparencies and cutouts.
What do you get if you mix up the world's most famous checks and Paris' most famous stripes? The answer: Louis Vuitton, whose 1960s style spring-summer fashion show twinned the iconic checked Damier pattern with a set designed by artist Daniel Buren.
Buren created four full-scale escalators, featuring his signature 8.7cm stripes, which wowed spectators inside.
"It's exquisite, beautiful," said 29-year-old Christina Malaki. "What a spectacle."
In fashion terms it was strong, with most of the 64 retro looks delivered in Mary Quant-style checks that made a bold optical statement in black and white, as well as browns, gray and leaf green.
Slightly puffed rounded shoulders, miniskirts, beehives and a few exposed midriffs pointed to one thing: The swinging 60s are back.
The silhouettes -- often flat and loose-- prioritized the Damier above the female form, which rippled nicely in skirts as the models, who walked in pairs, filed by with handbags.
Louis Vuitton is a house that is proud of its tradition, but also likes to evolve. The collection saw the ubiquitous monogram banished for the first time.
Instead, one recurrent feature was, so say the program notes, "the smallest sequins ever produced."
Thousands of microscopic sequins brought a dazzling metallic shimmer to dresses and skirt suits, though when it was used on the blocked Damier pattern it was slightly too much.
"It's all about being graphic. (Buren's escalators) are a mathematical equation," Jacobs told journalists after the show.
Another math equation will come from the buoyant receipts from this, a highly saleable collection.
It's a fair bet that by next year this bold check will be everywhere.
Miu Miu's spring-summer 2013 show in Paris had a wintery vibe.
Despite the slightly off-kilter season it was a slick display, with lashings of faux fur on coats and stoles with dyed patterning at the brand often seen as Miuccia Prada's baby sister offshoot.
It picked up nicely on this season's fascination with prints as contrasting explosions on loose skirt suits -- sometimes resembling the negative of a photograph.
As ever, it remained demure, but interesting back features graced a few reversed boxy tops. Alongside looks in denim and the prints, it gave the clothes a distinctly cool edge which reached its peak in a few eclectic, asymmetrical pieces.
Only a master like Prada can make a tiny strapped cropped camisole work underneath a thick fur coat, accessorized with leather gloves and jeweled Roman sandals.
Uber-cool actress -- and Miu Miu spokesperson -- Chloe Sevigny watched from the front row.
Elie Saab, master of the va-va-voom silhouette, broke out of his strict mold for his spring-summer 2013 show in Paris.
The Lebanese designer must have been feeling in an adventurous mood: He dabbled in graphic details and floral prints in Wednesday's show.
But never fear, his bread-and-butter traffic stopping dresses and sequins were still there -- in cerulean blue and vermilion. After all, it's what his buyers and celebrity wearers such as singer Taylor Swift on the front row expect and love.
But the palette this season was updated to include a beautiful cobalt, which in turn exploded into fluorescent color prints on gowns, some full length, others above the knee, that fluttered by in silk muslin.
Saab included the odd peplum and some `90s looks with black-and-white geometric lines.
The catwalk set of graphic angular moon rocks signaled to fashion insiders even before the show started that Saab would move in this direction.