Oh, the indignities we suffer in the pursuit of fashion.
Pardon me. I just need to vent a little bit. Late Wednesday night, right before H&M took us to the moon with a set from space and a collection that included no less than French style authority Caroline de Maigret, author of the recent hit book How to Be a Parisian Wherever You Are, dressed in a silver jumpsuit while walking around tinfoil UFOs (below, right), your faithful correspondent was pushed aside rather rudely so the paparazzi could get a better picture of Solange Knowles. Ugh.
There is never a shortage of reminders of your place on planet fashion, though lately I suspect we are more likely hurtling toward the abyss of Krypton, what with all of the inanity going on at these shows. Push, shove, argue, bicker, grumble, sit, and stew over the latest p.r. salvo in a bid to treat people as inhumanely as cattle. I've heard this three times already this week: "You are seated appropriately amongst your peers."
Have you met these people?
I'm with de Maigret. Let’s all act Parisian and just enjoy the parade of clothes, while simultaneously acting above it all. At H&M, for the retailer's Studio collection, the Swedish designers of fast-fashion fantasies were caught in the 1960s and '70s revival that has been sweeping the runways, with flared pants and overall jumpsuits shown in shades of avocado, somehow sweetly optimistic about life and the future.
Thursday was a brand new day, and I decided to get up on the right side of the bed for Roland Mouret, who's skewing much younger this season with his kicky 1960s skirts, and also for Carven (above, left), which has a young-and-cute new look thanks to its recently appointed creative directors Alexis Martial and Adrien Caillaudaud. Don't ask me how to pronounce that. Just think of them as I do—clever, promising, pretty young guys who have a good sense of what's fun about fashion—sharp, short skirts, mini dresses and a blue sweatshirt covered in crystal blue beads.
Alas, my goodwill had completely worn off by the time of the afternoon Balmain show, where even Solange was getting fed up with all the pushy photographers. "Can I talk to you?" she asked the person sitting behind her—me!—just to avoid the phalanx of microphones being thrust in her face. I don't blame her. It was me, or Jared Leto with his white hair and no eyebrows. We had a nice chat before she gave up and hid backstage, at least until Kanye West and Kim Kardashian showed up (Kardashian also with white hair), to suck away the attention of the flashbulbs. Balmain this season was about flashy, glittering fringe, by the way (below, right), the kind of clothes that promise to instantly turn you into a Kim or a Solange. Be warned or be thrilled.
Moving on, affixed to the invitation to the Rick Owens show was a long strip of furry brown hair, which proceeded to affix itself to the breath mints in my pocket. Ugh. The Owens collection this season included several models whose faces had been varnished with gold, silver, or green patina foil, which called to mind the characters of Wicked, which I'm sure was not at all what the designer had in mind. His clothes were the sort of heavily draped, exotically embroidered, caftan-cum-obi-robes that only frail people and Dan Brown villains can carry off successfully, though surprisingly enough, this was actually one of his more accessible collections. At least I picked out a few items for possible personal orders, particularly an off-white coat with gold ribbon streamers woven into the panels (above, left). We can all be street style stars yet.
Thank goodness for Alber Elbaz at Lanvin (pictured, top). I'd hate to go to bed after a temper tantrum, and even though Solange, Kim, Kanye, Kris, and Jared, once again, held up the start of show with their drawn-out arrivals, the intensity and brazenness of this collection left me elated. First drumbeats, like the kind from Whiplash, heralded a thrilling performance of hyper-decorated gowns, coats, and even beaded baseball caps. Then came the a capella voice of Diana Ross singing the lyrics of "I Hear a Symphony." I’m lost in a world...made for you and me...
While I was particularly taken with the simplest of dresses, a rusty brown sleeveless gown that had been belted and banded with leather that wrapped its way up to the shoulder, like a naughty harness or holster, it was the exotic, gilded textiles and passementerie on peasant blouses, jackets, and dresses toward the end of the show, evoking the landscapes and military attire of northern Africa, that made you want to stand up, see more, and even be happy for a moment that you're stuck here for the week on planet fashion.