Paris couture week ended with a stock market display by Roman powerhouse marque Fendi, a Chinese debutant and a cinematic rockin’ ready-to-wear show in a former slaughterhouse from Mugler.
Fendi: Alberta Fendetti
Plenty of star power but not that many sparks at Fendi couture, which presented a perfectly okay collection on Thursday, the final day of the Paris haute couture season.
Lots of wattage expended by paparazzi and influence peddlers as the stars arrive, testifying to Fendi’s ability to draw the great and the good.
The grandees wading through a huge throng of fashionistas and fans outside La Bourse, the former stock market of Pairs. With actress Kerry Washington, looking very fetching in a parakeet green tailleur, along with House of Dragon star Milly Alcock in an artic blue look, the same shade worn by Courtney Love. All joining supe Amber Valletta, rapper Doja Cat, and actresses Emilia Jones and Sarah Paulson, sitting beside partner Holland Taylor.
To witness a collection presented in a perfect white oval with blue bench seating, the audience settling awkwardly to some very odd pre-show white noise. When, suddenly, the entrance from the backstage of Helene Arnault, wife of Europe’s richest man and Fendi owner Bernard Arnault, signalled that the show could begin. Attired in floral embroidered felt coat she sat next to Jean, the second of three sons.
A show that opened with a long series of gowns, cocktails, and mini dresses, with never a coat or jacket in sight. Slinky silvery semi-sheer sheathes and slip dresses, often accompanied by long silver leather gloves and diamanté clutches.
In two-and-a-half years, Fendi’s couturier Kim Jones has clearly learned how to manage a couture atelier, for there was plenty of craft and finish to admire. And a series of intricately woven micro plissé dresses that were elegantly draped reeked rich refinement.
However, in a wardrobe malfunction moment, a Black model stumbled repeatedly when she entered in a gray silk, forcing her to hitch up the gown with both hands for the entire tour of the runway. Not a good couture moment at all.
A couple of sensational looks in pale gray lace revived the mood, which needed to happen, given the weird soundtrack. Which sounded like the kind of droning and crashing cacophony a KGB man would employ to break down a British agent in a John Le Carré spy novel.
Plus, the decision to throw matching fabric swatches over one shoulder in several looks was an unbalanced styling trick. Too often the clothes didn’t really say ‘Fendi’. At times, you could have confused looks for mid-90s Valentino, or mid-aughties Elie Saab.
“It reminded me of Alberta Ferretti,” grimaced one Italian editor.
Objectively, Jones was hired to create a proper brand identity for Fendi, after the Karl Lagerfeld era where Fendi’s aesthetic seemed to change every other season. So far, he hasn’t really managed that in couture.
A far cry from his creativity at Dior Men, where his path-breaking ideas, dramatic shows and innovative tailoring have made him the single most influential designer in contemporary menswear.
Robert Wun debuts in Place Vendome
The winner of the most recent Special Prize in ANDAM, the closely watched young talent award, Robert Wun made his couture debut on Thursday night, and his first stab was couture in all caps.
Wun clearly has plenty of design chops, a rich imagination and the ability to create arresting images in a co-ed show.
Above all, he is an accomplished image maker – whose posh-English-chimney-sweep look in a crystalline mac, huge umbrella-giant-pinball-wizard boots was Dali worthy. As was Wun’s modern geisha in a giant silver crinoline and humongous pagoda hat.
Too often, however, the models could barely walk so tight were the dresses. There was little feminist vision in this show. However, it still had a tender side – all the way to the bride – a Black chap in a massive, hooded gown festooned with white feathers.
Mugler: Lights, camera, fashion
The revival of Mugler continues to gather pace, and rapidly, as the house’s energetic designer Casey Cadwallader staged his first live runway since the pandemic.
Cinematic, sexy, self-indulgent and featuring several historic runway stars, which founder Thierry would surely have loved. Since lockdown began, Casey had just done video presentations; this was a gutsy return to a live format,
Presented in the Grand Halles de la Villette, a huge former slaughterhouse, the show was pretty much a triumph. Each model marching out under arch lights followed by a camera crew on a dolly along the 50-meter catwalk, before they pirouetted at the photographers’ pit and disappeared into darkness. Returning on a parallel runway to mount another dolly and be projected onto a giant screen.
Amber Valletta in body-hugging column with see-through inserts; or Eva Herzigova in a dominatrix’s dress causing the biggest burst of applause.
All backed up by a driving soundtrack, as the co-ed cast, transitioning stars and gals with huge Adam’s apples stormed down the catwalk. Practically all made in black – leather, lace and stretch – with a dash of red – like Mariacarla Boscono owning the space in femme fatale lace slip dress.
“This is a ready-to-wear show in couture season, but not a couture collection. Mugler should not be a quiet brand. It has to be bold and have drama and be exciting. And do something iconic!” insisted Casey, after embracing Kylie Minogue.
“In the last few years, I learned a lot. How to unleash Mugler through film. So, I wanted those amazing people who can do more than walk in a straight line. I want them to look at the audience and the camera. And let’s try to have some fun, because Mugler is about fun, love and representation,” the designer said.
All wearing a fresh take on Mugler with more volume, texture and evening, but no gowns. The brand has clearly gathered momentum under Cadwallader, showing a brand-new curvy bag, with a shoe line and swimwear in the pipeline.
Business is clearly booming, as this fashion spectacular underlined, and as the jovial managing director Pascal Conte-Jodra was happy to stress
“We’ve enjoyed triple-digit growth for the past three years. How many other brands can say that!”
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