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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Gold Digging

Haidee Findlay-Levin...

One of the shiniest stars of Paris Fashion Week was shine itself. One would predict that in this current political and economic doom and gloom, designers would reflect this with something pretty sober, conservative or at the very least classic. On the contrary, designers have opted for all the glittery, excessive posturing of the 80s. And I am not just referring to a color or surface treatment; I mean this quite literally. Precious metals, to be exact.

Sophia Kokosalaki usually mines her Greek heritage for inspiration, but this time she traveled a little farther east, specifically the Middle East. Perched on the head of most of the girls was a miniature gold fez. Fabrics were mostly organza in black, beige orange and bright blue, accented with gold lamé, of course. Gold earrings swung loosely from their ears while a gold bustier peeked out from under a jacket and a gold bra could be seen under a cutaway jumpsuit. And like a moth to a flame, my eye was drawn from the fez to the feet, with their sculptural platinum heels in any number of strappy combinations.


Sophia Kokosalaki

Dries Van Noten showed a far more subtle, poetic and elegant collection, which is hard to imagine when graphics and geometry are the inspiration. Black and white grid prints on boxy shirts and jackets were followed by faded and dégradé versions in blue, saffron and sunset yellow on relaxed shifts, replacing his standard floral and ethnic prints. But once again, the metals sparkled most—first in the setting, the Palais Royal sculpture garden, where Pol Bury's giant silver ball fountains took center stage. They were the perfect connect to the bulbous necklaces and bracelets in both silver and gold, suspended on long black ribbons that fell down the back, while an ankle-grazing gold jersey skirt was paired with a crisp white shirt. Dries got my gold star not only for being one of the rare designers to give women something other than a showgirl outfit, but also for offering us a glass of tea and macaroons from Ladurée during a 12-hour day of nonstop shows.


Dries Van Noten

Sparkle came in many forms this season, not least of them crystals. Large jet or mirror crystals dripped from the shoulders of black and flesh-pink capes in Givenchy’s homage to the rodeo. Or take Bollywood to the circus and you have an understanding of Indian designer Manish Arora's recent rise and shine. Meanwhile, disco must have been on Alber Albaz’s playlist long before the girls strutted down his Lanvin runway to late 70’s soundtracks, as glittery crystals adorned large sunglasses and stiletto heels in an otherwise dark collection.

And Alexander McQueen, showman extraordinaire, sent out a veritable Noah’s Ark of creatures against a 3D video projection of a revolving earth. There were some incredible beauties, but I hate to say, this time there were some beasts. Never one for restraint, he closed the show with girls in shiny crystal-covered dresses with an imaginary deep décolleté. These looks seemed more Ice Capades than exotic. But perhaps this was his point: in order to save the earth we need to save the polar ice caps. He closed the show with an unforgettable skintight and short-sleeved catsuit, completely covered in amber crystals down to the heels—clearly, going for gold.


Alexander McQueen

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