PARIS (AP) — The stars mingled among the tailors, dressmakers and seamstresses at the Chanel couture fashion show Tuesday that saw Karl Lagerfeld transport the behind-the-scenes ateliers to the catwalk floor for their 15 minutes of fame. It proved that the fashion industry does, occasionally, give back the love.
Here are some highlights of the fall-winter 2016 collections.
Will Smith and daughter Willow were among headlining front row VIPs at Chanel’s Grand Palais show, swooping in to thank Lagerfeld effusively after the show. The couturier held court after the collection next to the myriad artisan tables, sewing machines, mirrors, silk and cotton bobs, mannequin busts and real-life atelier seamstresses who worked diligently in front of guests even as the show took place.
Fashion Week regular, Oscar-nominated actress Jessica Chastain, praised Lagerfeld for championing the workers who rarely get a piece of the glory, yet who have often been with the house for decades.
“Sometimes, with each piece you forget how many hours are spent on the beading and the intricacy of the embroidery of each piece,” Chastain told The Associated Press, wearing a pale embroidered Chanel jacket and sheer silk blouse.
“It was very special to have that showcased. I love these women. I love the work that they do. And I think that this collection actually really personified the Chanel house and also the work that goes behind everything,” she added.
Lagerfeld said that since the famed rue Cambon atelier was too big to transport in its entirety, tailors and dressmakers who didn’t get a chance to attend the morning show would have their moment in the spotlight during a second showing.
Chanel’s designer added that despite huge advances in technology such as laser cutting and enhanced embroidery, much of the design work “is still made in the way it was made a hundred years ago.”
It was a graphic and highly structured collection this season for Chanel that riffed nicely off the steely architecture of the Grand Palais venue.
Large angular — often tubular — arms defined the clothes’ architecture, worn by waif-like models in chic black high-heel boots that rode high up the leg like ruffled pants.
Piled-up ethereal hairstyles added to the play on shapes.
Lagerfeld’s fashion mastery was on full display — to produce what he called his “modern graphic effect.”
Shoulders were beveled and cut at extreme angles to create an optical “standing up” style that gave the illusion of a flat-front to many of the looks. They were delivered, as ever, in fastidiously beaded clusters on autumnal shades, or else embroidered in shimmering threads.
Eveningwear was, so said Lagerfeld, inspired by the work of 19th-century English illustrator Aubrey Beardsley — whose graphic drawings were evident in shoulders and hems sporting crests of feathers, and dresses that flared out in soft cages.
Square shoulders against geometric patterned jackets, skirts and pants were the essential formula for Giorgio Armani’s rather mature fall couture show.
The Italian couturier is such a master that it doesn’t seem to matter if he doesn’t reference the trends and fads associated with wearable styles that have hit runways.
He’s bigger than that.
The 81-year-old deftly produces, season after season, timeless sheeny designs.
Tuesday’s show saw plays with hound’s-tooth and crisscross motifs on peaked jackets.
They merged into ball and dot motifs on long coats and pant looks, with raised 30s hairstyles that evoked Katharine Hepburn.
Brand ambassador Cate Blanchett, one of Hollywood’s most classical-looking stars who also immortalized Hepburn in “The Aviator,” aptly held the front row in a dark floral Armani dress.
KENZO LAUNCHES PERFUME
Actor Bradley Cooper was among celebrity guests who partied the night away with canapes and champagne at the storied 19th-century town house the Hotel Salomon de Rothschild.
The uber-cool strobe-lit event marked the launch of Kenzo’s new fragrance — the first created by the current designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim.
Leon and Lim said the scent mixes the freshness of their home state of California with a dash of French flowers.
The soiree also saw a screening of Spike Jonze’s new modern dance-themed Kenzo campaign film, and the night also featured a totally wacky dance class led by the choreographer of Sia’s hit music video “Chandelier,” Ryan Heffington.
New York’s J.Mendel presented his first official couture collection in Paris, showing that couture as an industry is alive and kicking and can boast an ever-expanding calendar.
The intimate 39-piece collection showcased private fur designs that the couturier, whose real name is Gilles Mendel, has been making for many years.
It was all about the shoulders.
Truncated upper-chest silhouettes, that sensually exposed the shoulders, created a sense of delicate femininity. This was complemented by mid- to floor-length gowns that featured subtle plays on perforation, or else showcased delicate sheer silks embroidered with fine beads.
Not since Karl Lagerfeld’s Fendi couture presentation, which triggered controversy last year, has there been such a decadent display of fur in Paris couture.
A black fur coat, with cut out sections, had a decadent weighty feel as its hem stroked the historic wooden show venue floor. Elsewhere, a brown fur coat had a deftly sensual shape, with shoulders that opened up and dropped, as if in a state of seductive undress.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP