Celine's Slimane unveils 70s show in Paris as Balmain rebels
PARIS -- Fashion rebel and designer Hedi Slimane returned to Paris Fashion Week to present his sophomore womenswear show Friday for storied brand Celine that riffed on the 70s.
The sky was the limit for the 15-minute display, staged in a purpose-built Japanese-style building branded "CELINE" by the glimmering monument, Les Invalides.
In the styles, however, after a lukewarm reaction to his September debut, Slimane played it safe.
Here are some highlights of fall-winter 2019 ready-to-wear collections.
CELINE'S 70s VIBE
This season, there was no Lady Gaga.
But the Celine show produced flashing lights of its own as a huge glass atrium with bright panels that seemed to hover through the air, was lowered slowly to the runway.
A model who had been trapped "frozen" inside, wearing a 70s silk scarf, suddenly came to life and strutted out to begin the show.
The love-him-or-hate-him designer changed tack on Friday from his stomping, messy, 80s styles of last season.
In its place, a more bourgeois and sophisticated - indeed, more Celine - side to Slimane was revealed.
The style dial was turned firmly to the 70s.
Silk jabot collars met pleated check culottes, sumptuous thigh-high tan boots with fur fringe, ponchos, capes, dazzling gold jackets and pimp-style fur coats.
Garments were beautifully finessed, like the slightly crumpled-yet-luxuriant look of the ubiquitous leather boots.
It nicely captured the spirit of the house that was founded in 1945 and has become synonymous with a relaxed luxury style that is not try-hard.
The main downside was that the collection, at times, seemed to lack a little punch.
Metal boot tassels whipped fiercely against the models' legs as they walked.
Spikes on stiff A-line skirts then led to menacing studs, kinky long black leather gloves and see-through or black PVC.
The fall-winter woman, Balmain said, was born of the recent need to don "new defensive armor for battles that we hoped were already won."
Whether or not this was a veiled reference to the post-#MeToo era, designer Olivier Rousteing was definitely in a fighting and rebellious spirit.
With signature excess, large 80s shoulders and ultra-cinched corset-like waists captured a notion of hyper-femininity, pushed to its limits.
One truncated dress, with a sheer spliced waist, sported black and white horizontal stripes - nature's patterning to indicate danger. It had guests snapping from their cameras.
American actress Shailene Woodley - wearing a peaked-shouldered Balmain look of her own - watched from the front row.
Though designs clearly aimed to strengthen a woman's natural form, some of the dropped-waist looks had problems in their proportion and made the six foot gazelle-like models appear square.
MIYAKE: IN IT FOR THE "DOUGH DOUGH"
The Franco-Japanese house of Issey Miyake prides itself on the use of cutting-edge "techno-fabrics."
Their collection, held in a spacious college hall in Paris' northwest, began with a bounce and a ripple thanks to a flexible textile called dough dough. (The name pertains to the malleability of the clothes, not their high-end price tag.)
The material, the brand said, has shape memory that turns its wearer into "artist and creator."
An oversize lapel on a gray wool coat-dress was scrunched into the shape of a cloud. A collar on a loose coat descended like a wilting tulip. A looseness defined many of the key looks.
Geometry was also a major theme.
It came in black and white, and in (overly) bold shards of contrasting color in another resin-like material called blink.
Designer Yoshiyuki Miyamae still has some way to go in refining the silhouettes in his womenswear styles that sometimes got lost in the techno-fabric-inspired push to attain bounce and fluidity.
BAD PARIS WEATHER POSES "FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS"
It could be global warming, French media suggests, or just changeable winds.
But the unpredictable Paris weather has posed a host of problems for fashionistas.
Air pollution reached danger levels earlier in the week as temperatures soared, prompting authorities to ban the most polluting vehicles inside the French capital Wednesday.
The fashion industry's response was seen at runway shows: designer respiratory masks, and one that was bejeweled, was donned by guests who found it uncomfortable to breathe.
Then, bright sunny spells morphed, in a matter of a few minutes, into heavy rain and caused wardrobe issues for front-row guests in summer garb who got drenched.
Front row guests at the Rick Owens and Issey Miyake shows complained they had to go home and change into winter coats between shows. It was tough, they said, given the grueling calendar of 11 back-to-back daily collections that's already tearing at the seams.
These were "first world problems," one wise guest remarked.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at www.twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K