Nothing as it seems at Paris Fashion Week

With 3D-printed jackets, medieval capes and boys dressed as girls, the designers of Paris's haute couture shows kept the glitterati guessing this week as they presented their fantastical vision of autumn and winter trends.

Not that most people will be wearing them.

Chanel, Paris Haute Couture FW15/16 - PixelFormula

The painstakingly handcrafted creations are only for a very select few, until touches of their creator's inspiration filter down through the fashion industry and into the wardrobes of the masses.

But first, for five days as it does twice a year for the couture shows, Paris withdrew from reality into a gilded club of celebrities and the upper crust meeting in theatres of the designer's imagination -- whether medieval palace or the French seaside.

- Jet set go -

Some slink into their seats seconds from showtime while others wander to the venue du jour hoping to catch the eye of a street-style photographer. Some may even feign confusion to make several turns back-and-forth in front of the cameras.

One thing is certain at fashion week: there will be stars and socialites.

Karl Lagerfeld brought his muses into the show, with US actresses Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore playing roulette in his elaborate casino setting for Chanel.

Actress Meg Ryan, Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong'o and Michelle Rodriguez popped up at shows around town.

Nicky Hilton raised eyebrows with a bottom-baring dress while Czech model Petra Nemcova, bored with the nearly hour-long wait for Elie Saab's show to get started, spent much of the time snapping selfies.

Fendi, Paris Haute Couture FW15/16 - PixelFormula

- Fur the love of fashion -

He may be 81, but fashion legend Lagerfeld managed to put on couture shows for both Chanel and Fendi.

He braved the anger of animal activists to stage a "haute fourrure" all-fur show to celebrate 50 years of collaboration with Italy's Fendi.

French film icon and ardent animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot even wrote a letter imploring Choupette Lagerfeld, the designer's pampered feline companion, to "purr into the ear" of the designer and stop the show.

But to Lagerfeld, in a world where people eat meat and wear leather, the anti-fur message makes no sense.

"It is an industry. Do the people against fur have the means to provide an income for the hunters who have no other way to make a living?" he told AFP.

The ever-controversial material was ubiquitous during the week, seen in cropped sleeves, handbags and collars by Lebanese designer Saab, or in waistcoats splashed with pink at Schiaparelli.

- Tickled pink -

The bright hue known as Schiaparelli pink was seen throughout the eponymous collection as well as at Armani Prive where it took a punk edge with models sporting spiky black hair and fuschia lips.

French designer Bertrand Guyon, who debuted his first collection for Schiaparelli, was one of several designers who took V-necklines plunging to the navel.
Christian Dior, Paris Haute Couture FW15/16 - PixelFormula

Talking about pink, who said dresses and make-up were only for girls?

John Galliano -- working for Maison Margiela after being sacked from Dior -- served up a collection that looked different from every angle, and in some cases a closer look showed that under the make-up and heels was a male model.

- Winter is coming -

Christian Dior was inspired by the Old Masters of Flemish painting and fashion in the Middle Ages, while Elie Saab harked back to Byzantine palaces with a mostly gold collection.

Either way the sheer high-waisted dresses with plunging necklines, the billowing sleeves, Dior's chainmail jewellery and capes, mantles and trains galore offered up several outfits that wouldn't have been out of place in an episode of Game of Thrones.

But while some looked into the past for inspiration, Lagerfeld catapulted the classic Chanel suit into the future, eschewing sewing for 3D printing to laser the iconic look into being.

The fiercely protected haute couture or "high dressmaking" designation exists exclusively in Paris where only a handful of houses who comply with strict guidelines can take part in the shows.

The spectacle may be over but the style calendar ticks on. All eyes will now turn to New York for menswear collections followed by spring and summer ready-to-wear in September.
 

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