Paris catwalks mirror the world, go digital

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Associated Press

Posted on September 30, 2013 at 2:00 AM

Updated Monday, Sep 30 at 2:00 AM

PARIS (AP) — As the world goes digital so too does fashion.

Paris' ready-to-wear shows on Sunday saw top houses open up their normally exclusive catwalk collections to Twitter followers. Arriving at its spring-summer 2014 show's warehouse venue, Givenchy's guests did not quite know what to make of the unexplained spectacle: A huge recreated car crash with six smashed up black Mercedes Benz and BMW's piled on top of each other. One fashion editor said the clothes might spell out the car crash symbolism.

But they didn't: Though Riccardo Tisci was certainly inventive in merging Masai-shaped draping with Asian warrior garb, there wasn't car metaphor in sight.

It was Givenchy's Twitter account that explained: "Car crash between Africa and Japan for the SS14 show."

It was a rare and cheeky ploy to get fashion insiders using Twitter to help understand the collection's inspiration.

In Chloe's show, though the loose clothes were easy and relaxed, camera production teams raced around with heavy apparatus, at moments distracting attention from the show, all to perfect a much-publicized live stream of the collection on Twitter and the internet. It's a laudably democratic move for an industry often accused of elitism. But one day will fashion editors even need to attend the shows?

GIVENCHY

Structured paneling, draping and silhouettes that hung from the neck defined Ticsi's complex show for Givenchy.

The 50-look-strong display married Japanese Samurai elements in black squares — as well as multitudinous layers and large Asiatic sleeves — with ethic African looks. They featured rope-like architectural details hanging in circles around the torso.

The models' faces were often fully adorned with sparkling face-paints in bright colors in a twist on a tribal style — and, indeed, the African elements of this collection were the most successful.

One model whose face was painted purple with bright red exaggerated lips sported a constructed vermilion dress with circular, triangular and diagonal straps and ropes hanging from the back of the neck. They opened up to a wide corset-like cummerbund and a symmetrically balanced draped skirt.

It cut a striking figure.

Tisci did not just continue with ideas introduced in his spring's Givenchy menswear show — unlike in other seasons — here in the womenswear he moved his ideas on to another creative level.

CHLOE

"Airy opulence" was one of the descriptions designer Clare Waight Keller used to sum up her comfortable ready-to-wear collection for Chloe.

Certainly, an airy, loose, unfitted softness pervaded the collection, which travelled gently from muted earth colors into minimal tailoring silk whites and then blues.

Comfort and ease are almost bywords for Chloe, the age-old house who afterall invented "pret-a-porter" in the first place — clothes that were designed ready to be worn straight off the catwalk and into real life.

Earth brown is making a comeback in the Paris collections, here, seen on a finely ribbed silk that produced an enviable fluidity on dress fronts.

Blue patchworked jacquard looked beautiful, but slightly too warm to capture that "high summer feeling" as described in the program notes.

KENZO

Kenzo was all about making waves in a collection that was inspired by the open ocean.

Myriad rippled prints resembling frothing currents appeared first on truncated bodices then down tight and voluminous silhouettes. Hems on oversized tops and short shirts then caught the surf with dramatic wavy cuts.

It was the life aquatic.

Fatigued guests who had traveled far out of Paris got some relief at the early Sunday morning show on realizing there was some good old-fashioned fun to be had.

One section embraced printed patterned ultra-marine blue — the hue of the great open waters — as well as a bold mid blue and red, reminiscent of underwater sea life.

The prints worked well on some of the dresses, like a blue purple and white tight mid-thigh dress that was accessorized with a floppy blue beach hat. But elsewhere the prints seemed to lose their definition.

The "it" designers have had a series of critically successful color-rich seasons, and those are a hard act to follow.

CELINE

It was in strong, abstract strokes of color that Celine's Phoebe Philo expressed her spring-summer vibe.

The inspiration was a collection of photographs taken by famed photographer Brassai that captured surreal wall graffiti.

Defined by the primary red, blue and black of graffiti prints, many of the looks of the strong show had a distinctly 1980s feel.

But elsewhere, the oversized proportions in sleeves and surreal accessories, such a squared-circle necklace and must-have stilettos with a giant ball bearing, made sure that Philo kept her avant-garde edge.

Philo is a sensitive designer.

Pleats — a design feature seen on high rotation this Paris season — were used excessively skirts giving a textural contrast to the spread out torso and flat graffiti prints.

It balanced silhouettes, giving them a gentle tension.

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Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

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