For his Dior cruise collection, held in the fabled principality of Monaco, Raf Simons continued his exploration of the house's glamorous, fairy-tale history that he began with his first couture collection for the house almost a year ago.
The calm, colorful, joyful collection couldn't have been more at odds with the foreboding view of a stormy Mediterranean Sea. Yet Simons sent out signature Bar jackets, jaunty skirts, and flouncy dresses over slacks, as he since becoming artistic director, but here much sportier and springier. His color palette was broadened to include summery yellows, pinks, and royal blues. And, for the first time, he showed lace—layers and layers of multi-colored lace.
The choice of Monaco was no accident. Stars including Marion Cotillard and Jessica Biel had only to make the short trip from Cannes, where Dior has also been busy dressing a multitude of actresses on the red carpet. Following the show, it was off to the Oceanographic Museum, where Prince Albert and his wife, Princess Charlene of Monaco, held a reception showcasing the many courtly pieces—many of them Dior—worn by his mother, Grace Kelly.
We couldn't have had a better spot at the incredible Louis Vuitton show today, facing curved walls that mimicked long corridors, with numbered doors and fabulous wallpaper. This was the Louis Vuitton hotel, and we eagerly awaited the delectable guests and the trouble they'd get into.
Piano music set the tone, with the haunting but romantic strains of Alexandre Desplat's Tree of Life soundtrack, and the doors started to open. Each door was left open until the girls made their way around, giving us enough time to absorb the beautiful LV trunks in their rooms, with carefully orchestrated video projections of domestic hotel scenes.
All the girls wore the same black flapper-style wig, and the look was haute Hitchcock glamour, with a dash of Desperate Housewives. The clothes looked like they had been slipped into for the purpose of seduction, and it was unclear whether our girls were coming home or going out. The truth emerged that the real party was in their rooms, as they paraded about in lingerie numbers paired with subverted men's coats, some sprouting marabou, others encrusted with crystals that crept up from the base. A jacket was worn with nothing but high heels and knickerbockers, and negligee maxi-dresses clung to braless bodies as our heroines flitted between each other’s rooms.
It was a beautiful presentation, with flawless execution, and we were entirely submersed in Marc Jacobs' world, full of exotic, glamorous vamps. We wanted to have a hotel slumber party! Of course Jacobs had the final laugh, emerging at the end in boldly patterned silk pyjamas, the only man in a hotel full of beautifully dressed women. Although apparently he only had eyes for his old friend who walked the show, Kate Moss, judging by their après-show bisou.
Karl Lagerfeld is a worldly man, and he doesn't need cornea-burning Indian embroideries or reassuring prints of Renaissance paintings to prove it. But apparently he does need a stage design consisting of a massive spinning globe in the center of the Grand Palais (as always) with sparkling dots marking all Chanel outlets—which look to be in the hundreds. The symbolism was rock-solid. Perhaps no other brand operates on the same scale as this. One thing is certain: the sun never sets on the Chanel empire.
While the clothes didn't veer greatly from the brand's trusted tropes, they confirmed Chanel's jetset status. The chic modernity of these tweeds, bouclés, and florets in a predominantly black-and-white palette, resembling a night sky, were light years away from Lagerfeld's Scottish romp just months ago, as minimal as a Chanel girl can possibly be. Bags were orbs on a chain and boots were decked out in rockstar studs and still more chains (and wouldn't have looked out of place on a certain designer's own feet).
And if anyone was still confused about Chanel's place in the world, the models wore brightly colored fur wigs that Lagerfeld said were based on Anna Wintour's signature bob. It's enough to wonder who's orbiting who.
Phoebe Philo is a family woman and makes no qualms about it. She does not pretend or aspire to be the late-partying, champagne-swilling girl she is wont to portray at Céline. Her fall collection, except for pale leather thigh-high boots a fashion-savvy dominatrix might wear, was more about warm and fuzzy than cool and aloof.
Her models seemed to float out in a creamy palette of eggshell, faint blue, and dusty peach, with only a hint of black on shoes or in a button. They were swaddled in snug sweaters or they swam in enormous diva coats—like something an opera-goer might have donned in the '50s, sans pearls—with equally enormous collars that fanned out to the edge of the shoulder, or with extra-wide cuffs that spanned the length of the forearm. These were sumptuous, sublime cocoons. In the models' grasp were fuzzy, flat clutches that, when held close to the body, took on a fortune-cookie shape. There were no loud colors or garish prints of any kind.
More challenging dresses had built-in sleeves sprouting from the shoulder or the waist and tied in front at the belly, as you might expect a woman to do if she were discreetly hiding a pregnancy. To the Céline woman, privacy is the ultimate luxury.