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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Out of the Blue

Tired of going green? Try blue. Spearheaded by Julie Gilhart, Barneys New York has joined forces with Elle to create Project Blue, a shop-for-charity initiative to benefit the clean-water advocacy group Oceana.

Eight designers—including Rodarte, Stella McCartney, Versace and Alexander Wang—were given a pile of old donated denim to play with. From this mass of acid-washed, mom-jean rejects, they were asked to create totally new garments, to be auctioned off on eBay.

The results, which aren't the patchwork-denim Franken-frights you might expect, range from a tailored dress from Bottega Veneta to Rogan's long-sleeved hooded dress. The bidding has started (Ann Demeulemeester is currently fetching $135, which won't last) and continues through May 10.

—Pia Catton


Versace, Rogan, Rodarte

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 6

By Pia Catton...

Sao Paulo Fashion Week ended with an homage to the days of modeling past. Instead of a runway show, the designers of Neon sent out models two by two and had them strike poses from Paris couture houses circa 1954. But it's fair to assume that nothing this bright—the kaleidoscopic prints were trimmed in black beading—ever swanned its way down the Avenue Montaigne. And at the end of a long week, this vogue-a-thon was a welcome change.


Neon

In the category of Things That Make You Go Hmmm, several shows here incorporated the brand's sponsors in ways that wouldn't fly in New York or Paris. At Gloria Coelho, the collection (long on texture and intricate detail) was preceeded by her uniforms for Mercure hotels. And at Andre Lima, the show started with a model eating a Magnum ice cream bar at the end of the runway—holding the foil package so no shot could miss it. Crass commercialism? Maybe. But it's also a sign of an economy with some buzz and creativity. Brazil's consumer brands are trying out new ways of partnering. And they're spending money to do it. (Plus free Magnum bars—yum!)

When it's all tallied up, there must be some hefty bills from Sao Paulo Fashion Week. Just the props and set designs alone included snow machines above fake trees, plus runways lined with treadmills, balloons, sand and life-size surrealist puppets. (And everyone tells me this was tame compared to years past.) Not only that, the big denim brands spend big on top models: Gisele at Colcci, Agyness at Ellus.

But let's not overlook the designers doing an honest day's work. Alexandre Herchcovitch turned out collections for men and women that combined creativity and real life. His raincoats for men might be the hottest ticket in town, and those fur shoulder coverings on the women's suits are all about a power surge. Isabela Capeto was one of the few designers who really seemed to capture a sense of Brazil-in-winter: colorful and fully accessorized. If I had my way, I'd import Do Estilista, Huis Clos and Uma Raquel Davidowicz pronto. But for now, I'll settle for heading back to New York and ducking into the Osklen shop in Soho when I need a Brazil fix.


Isabel Capeto

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 5

By Pia Catton...

Raquel Zimmermann worked the space-age suits at Animale last night. Her fierce look and take-no-prisoners walk was just right for the go-go Star Trek collection. Though the palette was nude and subtle, there was nothing vulnerable in the Sydney Opera House-like shoulders.


Animale

Another Raquel—Davidowicz, she of the ultra-chic house party I mentioned yesterday—delivered her collection for Uma. It was one of the few that made me think: I want that dress—in this case a sheath with a deep-blue sculpted skirt.

Between that dress and my newly Brazilified hair, I could pass for a local. My black-brown tresses are now a soft honey-brown with sunkissed touches of blonde. It took only four hours, three processes and two weeks of hair envy, but Luciano at L'Officiel III gave me exactly what I wanted. Obrigado, Luciano!

Though I haven't had much time to dig into Sao Paulo's cultural offerings, I was able to hit a show of previously unpublished Rankin photographs, presented by the glossy shopping mall Iguatemi. The portraits included Heidi Klum giving the finger and wearing leather jeans, Kate Moss in boots (and maybe a hat, but nothing else) and Gisele on all fours covered in a digitally manipulated substance made to look like diamonds. The bulk of the show was devoted to rock stars, but the best was an extreme close-up of Mary-Kate and Ashley, somehow made to look like beautiful, mythical creatures.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 4

By Pia Catton...

When our car pulled up outside the home of Brazilian designer Raquel Davidowicz, the place looked and sounded like a night club on a tight cul-de-sac. A burly security guard stood in front of an opening in a flat cement wall that led to a secret garden of chic. The modernist house was surrounded by 15-foot palm trees and lush greenery—so glamorous that only a Sao Paulo fashion designer could handle it. The party, thrown for the international fashion press and attended by assorted industry types, had the kind of relaxed fancy that Hamptons hostesses dream about and New Yorkers are too neurotic to deliver on.

As the designer of the brand Uma, Raquel has her show on Thursday (watch this space), but was somehow together enough to warmly greet her 200 plus guests. Some of them milled around the pool, which glowed green under a spotlight above the roof. Many crowded around the bar, where one's champagne addiction could be sorely tested by passion-fruit caipirhinias and where even the schmoozing had a light touch. But talking about fashion seemed too work-y in a setting like this. Raquel said that the house had never been photographed for a shelter magazine, but give that about ten minutes. The bathroom counter, for instance, was loaded with about fifty Jeff Koons-esque rubber duckies in different styles.

Dinner was served in small tin boxes with napkins tied around them. Inside was tasty sauted beef and rice with vegetables, followed by chocolate mousse, truffles and a Romeo & Juliet (a fruit puree and soft cheese). The DJ played heavily from the requisite Hard Candy remixes—and to ward off hangovers, coconut water was in large supply. Despite the light rain (a constant presence in this city) a most divine time was had by all.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 3

By Pia Catton...

There's plenty to play with in the realm of British punk-- with its mix of royality references and its 80's sex appeal. Triton did just that, and in a rather fun way, if not groundbreaking. Need a plaid bodysuit? Got it. Pouf skirt with a T-shirt? Got that, too. The show reconfirmed (as almost every show has) that the low-crotch baggy pants look is not going away any time soon.


Triton

One thing that the British punk theme allows for is a mix of the masculine and feminine. Sharp military jackets and boyfriend jackets worked well with soft skirts, but the Brazilian brands seem to stay closer to femininity, even when they're using fabrics from menswear. At 2nd Floor, there were puffy mini-skirts in materials that could have been used for a man's suit—with a layer of glittery cutouts and strings peeking out from underneath. So not so much femininity as girls going to a balloon-theme birthday party.


2nd Floor

Cavalera mixed everything from Buffalo-plaid shirts to yellow leopard-print pants to pointy rock-star shoes to dresses with ruffles from the American West. A little much when all together, but there's something there for every self-made stylist.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 2

By Pia Catton...

Monday was anything but dull here at Sao Paulo Fashion Week, starting with Forum Tufi Duek, who apparently wanted to revive Madonna's horse fetish from her Confessions tour. Painted-on black leather pants and flowing capes were accented by an undercurrent of horse motifs: belts with silver bits as closures, extended ponytails and a video of horses frolicking in the background. Vamp, vamp and more vamp. And yet much of it could be worn as the straight-up New York uniform of black-on-black—without causing heart attacks.

Alexandre Herchcovitch scored highest with his pile-it-on attitude that seemed closer to a Russian aesthetic than Brazilian. Black suits and jackets had multiple fabrics on lapels and panels; some had what looked like fur caplets on top, but in fact were panels of fur at the shoulders and chest. Color was not absent, and it was topped by extreme beading. Several pieces were so heavy that in fact they appeared light; the weight of the beading made the loose shirts sway from the body and then swing back again to cling seductively to every curve.


Alexandre Herchcovitch

At Do Estilista, Marcelo Sommer seemed to be having a "Sound of Music" moment—are those dresses made out of curtains? No wait, just prints inspired by blue-and-white kitchen tile. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but in fact the prints were fantastic and many of the cuts were more velvet-rope than Home Depot. And to make it all totally incomprehensible, a row of treadmills was placed on the runway and several of the male models were made to exercise on them—even during the finale.

Hometown favorite Isabela Capeto presented layer-upon-layer of salable, feminine charm. Nothing was simple here—even a little black dress came with hundreds of tiny metallic beads.

I'm quite sure that Ronaldo Franga's collection—mostly black and white structured jackets with leggings—will delight his flock, but the show's theatrics trumped the clothes. On the runway were several six-feet tall surrealist puppets operated by Little Miss (and Mr.) Muffets. The models were elderly men and women, plus very young children. It all had something to do with oblivion, abandonment and a poem by Avaro Apocalypse. Like I said, quite a day.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 1

By Pia Catton...

Sao Paulo Fashion Week opened with a day of extreme variety. Early on the roster was Osklen, which I've been looking forward to since I stumbled into his shop in Soho. Backstage before the show, Brazilian model Drielly Oliveira adjusted the fake dreadlocks woven into her hair and quickly summed up the appeal of Oskar Metsavaht's popular brand: "It's street style. It's easy to wear."

This collection, in particular, will be just that. Much of it was made from thick gray fleece. And although there was one classic PE department sweatshirt, the design kept it all far away from the locker room. Long dresses had full exaggerated skirts and several mini-skirts were cut with undulating ruffles—both had plenty of swish. A men's suit cut in an athletic-looking fabric could give Casual Friday a new lease on life.

But design was only half the story. Metsavaht has used his massive popularity for good by creating the Instituto e (E-Institute), which bestows an environmental seal of approval to fabrics made with sustainable methods. To get the seal, the production must be eco-friendly and do some variation of social good. Five e-fabrics were used in the collection, including vegetal leather, which is made from a natural latex extracted from rubber trees. The production employs rubber trappers and no toxins are used in the process. So how does it look? In the show, a stiff and sculptural raincoat was made from the stuff. Upon closer inspection backstage, the fabric felt pretty much like thin rubber. More interesting was the feel of a skirt made from coated fleece, which was so soft you could use it as a blanket.

As for those fake dreads, all the models (male and female) wore them, as well as nerd glasses that made them all look like booksmart Rastafarians.


Osklen

But the mood changed drastically at Mario Queiroz. This men's designer took up heraldic motifs: repeated crests were printed on oversized hoodies and plaid capes were draped across the shoulders. But the best part was the beefcake factor. A bare-chested, long-haired warrior king strode the runway wearing pants, a leather helmet and leather straps holding his shoulder armor in place. Braveheart in Brazil? Yum.

For Cori, Dudu Bertholini and Rita Comparato (who also design bathing suits and more for Neon) turned out a chic and sophisticated collection. Though it was decidedly "Brazil"—a little too much use of colorful leather stripes—it was well-tailored and not boring.

The day ended with Gisele swishing her hips down the runway for Colcci and its skinny jeans. Gisele's shape is just as outrageous as it appears in photos, so why did someone add a fluffy mini-train of black tulle to the back of her jeans? Way to block the view, Colcci.


Colcci

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Goodbye, Rio. Hello, Sao Paulo!

By Pia Catton...

Between the coxinha (chicken croquettes) and fresh acai (the anti-oxidant super fruit), Rio isn't a bad place to nurse a hangover. The beach, however, is. So off I headed to the leafy, bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa. Though I was informed repeatedly that I faced certain mugging, I felt safe in knowing I was meeting a local, a friend of a friend of a friend who lives in the area—nothing like three degrees of separation. Nothing bad happened.

Santa Teresa, once a haven for aristocrats, has crumbling buildings, decorative wrought iron and cobblestone streets that give it a French Quarter feel. We popped into the museum dedicated to Raimundo Otoni Castro Maya, an art collector who built a modernist house overlooking the city. The best of the art was neither the minor Picasso nor the Modigliani, but the 500 scenes (displayed in drawers) of early 19th-century Rio de Janeiro painted by the Frenchman Jean Baptiste de Debret. The lithographs served as snapshots of the New World for the folks back in Paris. And judging from these images, Rio has always been as bustling, fast and exotic as it is today.


Jean Baptiste de Debret

After a restorative lunch of feijoada, the traditional Brazilian black-bean stew, I headed back to the tents of Fashion Rio, where I learned two things: I had to depart at 5 am for my 8 am flight to Sao Paulo and "You can't leave Rio without going out to samba!" As it's impossible to argue with a Carioca celebrating her birthday at a samba club, a merry crew was duly rounded up. We made our way to a rustic club, Antiqua Sappore, in the neighborhood of Lapa, where the drinks are about $3 and the samba band keeps going all night. I had a full body sweat going all night, too, but I did make my flight.

Within hours I landed in Sao Paulo, had a quick nap at the hotel and feasted on another round of feijoada. This one was along the Praca Benedito Calixto, a park with a fantastic flea market on Saturdays. Prices are low, and the variety is enticing. Handmade scarves and jewelry range from 5 to 25 Real, but the remnants of technologies past—brightly colored telephones, a purple refrigerator and what must have been the first television in South America—are the more amusing attractions. Silver, too, was in large supply. So if you need that extra place setting, hop on a flight to Sao Paulo. As for fashion, stay tuned. First, another nap.


Flea market

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Fashion Rio: Day 5

By Pia Catton...

The Juliana Jabour after-party had it all. Aside from adorable Brazilian guys making strawberry caipirinhas, there was an endless supply of champagne, poured by waiters who were more intrepid than hot. They muscled their way onto the dance floor to make sure every glass in the house was full. So, as you can imagine, the place was raining men, unlike many a New York party. The ratio of men to women was at least 2 to 1, which should have made everyone giddy, but which instead led to the longest game of gay-or-straight in the history of Fashion Rio. Muscles, bracelets and well-groomed hair are standard issue for the male Carioca. But ultimately, the straight-guy clothing trifecta —T-shirt, jeans and Pumas—is a giveaway.

Jabour's collection reflected the party in a way: modern, dark, fun and romantic. Strapless party dresses were balanced by tight jeans and intarsia sweaters in abstract designs.


Juliana Jabour

But of all the natural wonders that Jabour's party had to offer, there was one that was very unwelcome: a fire. What started as a little flame wound up consuming a curtain and started to burn the plastic of an air conditioner. The smell and smoke were enough to kill a normal party, but not this one. Crowds shifted from the buffet to the dance floor, people who couldn't find a seat earlier now enjoyed the 19th-century chaise lounges and those eager waiters made their rounds through the smoke.

Eventually, the lights did go up—a sad moment indeed. The gang hopped over to the slick Fasano hotel, where models routinely roam the stark, modern interior. And thanks to them, all the ladies (even the journos) got to skip the 100 Real cover charge. Fasano has that intense sort of modernism that can make anything and everything seem ten times cooler than it actually is—even the journos.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fashion Rio: Day 4

By Pia Catton...

They do breed 'em tall here. Tall, thin and beautiful—so much so that Brazil could legitimately claim models as a main export. With so many Brazilian models in their own country for Fashion Rio, it might as well be Old Home week. The line-up at Cantão—one of the more fun and energetic shows—brought together a Brazilian beauty-fest: Isabeli Fontana, Aline Weber, Daiane Conterato, Ana Claudia Michaels, Bruna Tenorio and Gracie Carvalino. Of course, there's buzz on all of them: Ana Claudia is back—from the '90s—and looking good; Isabeli is here, period; Aline also opened the Printing show; Daiane and Bruna are as bewitching as ever; and Gracie is in rapid ascendance.


Cantão

Why is it that Brazilians dominate the runways? Sure, it's in the mix of cultures—German, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Dutch—but there's more to it than just genes. "To be a great model, it's not enough to be pretty," says Vogue Brazil's fashion editor Maria Prata, who shoots Brazilian models almost exclusively for the magazine. "Brazilian people have an allure that people all over the world recognize. They're easy-going. You have to always be in a good mood."

For a model, it's usually a quick step from Vogue Brazil to the international scene. But when Fashion Rio calls, these girls toss their quilted Chanel bags on their shoulders and strap in on the first flight home. After all, they've got the beach and parties at The Week, plus they are the envy of every little girl in the country.

And now, a moment for personal style. In the same way that French women can tie a scarf just so, Brazilian women have a way of making the maxi-dress and an armful of bangles look utterly natural. When New York women try it, the whole thing just looks too misplaced, too Long Island. I thought about trying it out down here, but why be a poser?

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fashion Rio: Day 3

By Pia Catton...

Designers have been hot and bothered for the jumpsuit lately, making it an unlikely staple of collections in New York and Paris. Here, too, the adult onesie is on the runway and on the streets, but the shape is somehow more attractive in Rio. Cavendish, a popular Brazilian brand, showed strapless jumpsuits with pants that mimicked the wide-hip and tapered leg shape that's been going around. The cut is flattering and sexy, rather than look-I'm-wearing-a-jumpsuit. So if you've got to wear a jumpsuit, please, make it Brazilian.


Cavendish

One non-fashion high point of the day was a visit to the Roberto Burle Marx exhibit at the historic Paco Imperial, which, like many structures that once housed royalty, has been turned into an exhibition space. Marx is the artist who created the design for the beachfront sidewalk that runs along Rio's Avenida Atlantica. The squiggles and wavy shapes laid in Portugese tile are a pure example of form and function, landmark public art that thousands of people use every day. Sidewalks, though, were the least of it. His landscape design has been used for parks and public spaces all over the world, including Miami's Biscayne Boulevard, as well as hundreds of residential projects. The exhibit celebrated his 100th birthday and showed the extreme range of his output: large and small scale paintings, ceramics, jewelry and textiles—definitely worth getting off the beach for.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fashion Rio: Day 2

By Pia Catton...

It all seemed so matter-of-fact when they told us the Redley show would be "in another part of town." That other neck of the woods turned out to be the actual woods of Tijuca, a 32-square-kilometer rainforest that also happens to be the largest urban forest in the world.


Redley

Tijuca contains the enormous statue of Christ the Redeemer that overlooks Rio. On this particular day, the forest also held about 500 fashion-goers. The four-designer team behind Redley opted to present its collection with models walking down a gently sloping stretch of road that cuts through the dense greenery. The show was called for 11 am, a time when sunlight is both dappled and beaming through the leaves, though a fog machine and music were added for ambiance, just in case.

As for the clothes, if you liked what they were wearing in that last Star Wars film, there's plenty here for you. It seems incongruous that a crunchy-sexy brand should make a collection with a military-of-the-future look, but that's what happens when you put sharp cotton jackets and gray pants with combat boots. Several knit dresses and leaf-print fabrics lightened the mood, but really, it was all about the forest. The icing on the nature cake was how perfectly our get-away was organized, so a big shout-out to the cheery walkie-talkie-wielding gals from the Brazilian Textile and Apparel Industry Association (ABIT), the group hosting us international press. And nothing makes me love Brazilian textiles like a van that's waiting and ready to roll.

Actually, designer Mara Mac also makes me happy about textiles, though I'm not sure where she finds them. Her collection, shown later in the day, was a veritable tea route that connected the fabric and designs of China, India and beyond. Models walked between huge mounds of green tea placed on a red lacquer runway, as sheer printed fabric evoked both the East and the Provencal countryside. Several pieces in a gray fabric looked just right for a long flight. But only first class would do for pants cut this chic.


Mara Mac

The best audience of the day was, by a long shot, at jeans brand TNG. Why? As a possible Backstreet Boy—who turned out to be soap opera star Caua Reymond—appeared on the runway, swaggering and flexing, his claque of adoring fans exploded. He beamed at them (a section of rowdy young boys who, if I had to guess, won some sort of contest for their seats) with a charm that seemed indigenous. Brazilian model Giane Albertoni and hot local newscaster Mariana Weiker also gave the show star power, but it was Reymond who made the kiddies lose it.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fashion Rio: Day 1

By Pia Catton...

It's Fashion Week in Rio de Janeiro (Fashion Rio) and it's already clear that the Cariocas have their own splashy way of doing things. On the banks of the Marina da Gloria (a large bay with a view of the massive Sugarloaf mountain with the Jesus statue), the city's fashion industry has set up a campus of tents that makes Bryant Park look like a shoe box. In addition to tents for the runway shows, there is a tent just for looking out onto the palm-tree-dotted harbor. It's the kind of set up that makes you want to declare residence.

And let's just pause to acknowledge one clever sponsor. Nivea has outfitted the men's and women's restrooms with not only soap and three kinds of hand lotion, but spray deodorant. And hell yes, I'm using it. It's 95 degrees here. But then again, sweating isn't something one has to apologize for in Rio. Mainly because no one apologizes for anything bodily here, not sweat, cellulite, body hair, spare tires, love handles—all of which was in full evidence on Ipanema Beach today, a Sunday in the middle of summer below the equator. The crush of humanity enjoying the waters provided plenty of people-watching, in not much clothing.

Sunday's few shows included Santa Ephigênia, a label so beloved by socialites that the well-dressed ladies of Rio packed the house and took up all the seats reserved for press. Entirely forgivable, though, as designers Marco Maia and Luciano Canale sent out an edgy but polished collection. Boxy, constructed jackets fell away from the body, and tapered pants seemed right on point. The metallic paillette dresses aren't going to be setting any new trends, but the collection was evidence that fashion here is thriving. Day 1 at Fashion Rio and things are looking good.


Santa Ephigênia

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Friday, December 12, 2008

In Memoriam

Elegance and whimsy may not go hand-in-hand, but French sculptor Francois-Xavier Lalanne, who died this week at the age of 81, bridged the gap—so much so that his work was collected by fashion and design luminaries including Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Tom Ford, Reed Krakoff and Peter Marino.

Lalanne and his wife Claude worked together to make animal sculptures that often doubled as functional objects. With their surreal yet modern aesthetic, the Lalannes created, for example, a cast-iron baboon whose chest opened to reveal a stove, a coffee table composed of two gilded antelopes holding up a glass surface and a bronze hippopotamus that serves as a bar.

But the most famous works were a series of life-size fluffy sheep whose only purpose is to graze safely in the chicest of living rooms. As Krakoff once said: "When I first encountered one of their sheep, in a book of European interiors, I didn't know what to make of them. There was something whimsical about them that struck me as so charming, but at the same time, they had this weight of serious sculpture."

Born in 1927, Lalanne was a creative light that will shine on.

—Pia Catton





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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Hermès

Pia Catton...

Go-go gauchos roamed the Hermès runway, a long and dusty road covered with sand and dotted with cacti. Nary a lonesome doll was without a cowboy hat. Fringe, ponchos, bananas—all the trappings of the Wild West were here. Leather jackets and ponchos came in creamy shades of butter and tan. Scarf gowns were cinched with belts that sparkled with bits of silver.

The show opened with Stephanie Seymour, followed by Naomi Campbell. They closed the show (in reverse order) wearing tiered halter gowns. Say what you will, their steady sex appeal made the other girls look like the walking dead from a gold-rush ghost town.

It's debatable that fringe on a classic Hermès bag is a wise move. But Jean Paul Gaultier has to put all those leather goods into context season after season. And really, the Western theme has been off the radar since the last time Madonna left the gym wearing a cowboy hat. Ralph Lauren does it, but in a more turquoise-studded Americana sort of way. Here, the undercurrent was a certain Latin lustiness. The combination of feminine allure and masculine touches, like cigars, produced a frisson of sexuality, à la Zoro, plus bad guy, plus the captive princess—all in one bright orange box.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Chanel

Pia Catton...

Karl Lagerfeld is known to be a music obsessive. And at the show today, the only thing that topped his guitar case made of white Chanel quilting was a pair Elvis sunglasses with plastic sideburns.

But the two models-as-rockers were only one part of the tableau. To the pop strains of "Our House" by Madness, models emerged from a giant replica of the house of Chanel at 31 rue Cambon. After leaving the façade, they walked down a gray runway painted to resemble a sidewalk. And the collection seemed to reflect the catch-all democracy of the street. There were classic suits (some in blown-out proportions) for the ladies, sweaters and leggings for les jeunes filles and a sublime gray evening gown for the princesses. Even a group of gents emerged, looking ever so Karl-like with their jeans, tuxedo jackets and high collars.

With the natural light flowing in from the glass ceilings of the Grand Palais, the show looked every bit the ideal day: a street of chic where everyone is coming from or going to Chanel.

Lagerfeld has a way of celebrating the tradition of Chanel without devolving into brand narcissism, if such a thing exists. After last year's carousel of giant-sized Chanel objects, this was an homage to—with apologies to Led Zeppelin—"Houses of the Holy."

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Dior

Pia Catton flirts back...

Oh, those swishy little skirts at Dior! John Galliano's diaphanous and pleated silk skirts—let's be accurate and call them minis—peaked out underneath studded, belted and fitted jackets, plus a few dramatic bodices. Too bad the Met's Superheroes exhibit closed already as this collection is prime material for the power-suited Wonder Woman in all of us—at least from the waist up. Below the belt, there was more flirty thigh-skimming on Dior's runway than a college cheerleading squad. Not that long skirts can't flirt: several sheer flowing skirts offered a view to the boy-cut underoos underneath.

Galliano's tribal inspiration included the use of bright yellow, orange and blue. (And it puts Carla Bruni’s all-plum ensembles into perspective. This is a rich Dior color spectrum.) But the tribalism raises a question: how much will a Park Avenue hostess want her Dior cocktail dresses bedazzled with the same seashells from her daughter's brush with dreadlocks at spring break? Whatever, no quibbling with genius, especially when it leads to halter tops embroidered so finely that they shine like mesh. Same goes for entire coats made of python. Same goes for the sheer gown embroidered with horizontal black stripes that contrasted against the flesh to imply an animalism.

By my count, there were two pairs of pants in 45 looks, and they were painted-on black jersey. Which makes a certain amount of sense in the Galliano-for-Dior worldview. Legs are there to be seen. Makes you wonder how long the baggy, boyfriend jean trend will last. After all, ZZ Top never wrote a song about ankles.

—Pia Catton

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