Paris Diary: Day Eight

Published March 7, 2012

The power of purple, or more precisely amethyst, and minerals at large, was the catalyst this season for Karl Lagerfeld, who turned Paris’s gigantic Grande Palais into a jagged crystal. He also divided up the audience, a veritable United Nations of fashion, into boxes of seats by country in pristine white bleachers. Lagerfeld’s ideas for Chanel are so far reaching they ignite his imagination from start to finish.

After spring’s pastel undersea world, he headed underground, mining metallic shine in saturated jewel tones with a penchant for amethyst violets purples and electric blues veering to raspberry, emerald green and anthracite gray. There were enough ideas here to launch several seasons starting with the dual personality shoes with ankle-strap Mary Jane exteriors with low boot interiors. Lagerfeld put leggings on every look for the new Chanel three-piece suit that can be a coat and dress, or a skirt and tunic or jacket all with second-skin pants often in panné velvet with a jewel buttoned cuff. The mining mood brought enough sparkle to brighten Chanel tweeds shot with Lurex and crystal-incrusted. These he combined with jagged-Cubist inspired intarsias on sweaters and in complex-seamed cubist tailoring. The bodice of one dress was covered with Cubist metallic mirrored vinyl piecing which was carrying it a bit far, but there’s always a high-spirited fashion diva out there for a piece de resistance. And as long as we’re on the OTT subject, the crystal-studded brows had just the right underground element. By the end of the show, Lagerfeld dipped into iridescent feathers in enveloping collars for jackets and blouses like a shaman’s magic cape.

When Valentino goes folkloric it’s almost a contradiction in terms and Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli played this meeting of opposites for everything it was worth. While others beat out a fashion message with a loud drum, Valentino whispers with an attention to detail that can only be appreciated up close which is the way clothes are really worn beyond the runway after all. The follklore began in black leather capes, shorts and tunic jackets connected with a spiderweb of embroidered lacework. This was followed with frog closures on pristine tailoring before Chiuri and Piccioli launched into ornate carpet pattern stripes with embroidery and beading for coats and dresses in the house’s demure scoop neck, fitted bodice style. Valentino red made an appearance notably in cutout floral leather for a dress and the most beautiful pieces in the show put naive folkloric flowers in embroidery and beading on nude tulle and black velvet.

Piece d’Anarchive’s Virginie Muys and sisters Priscilla and Deborah Royer know what elegant young Parisians want to wear and their collection in its second season continues its ascension from 17 pieces the first time out to a perfectly balanced 24 looks for fall. Although their inspiration this time is “Mad Max,” the Royers and Muys seem to have filtered out all the road rage for sleek anthracite gray knit tunics with button-on leather shoulder pieces embossed with chain link pattern to black leather boxer mini skirts, cute shorts and arm warmers or mittens with a zip to wear as an extra warming layer with a sweater or under a jacket. The flirty thick knit bias skirts and dresses look like Betty Boop in Paris and discrete shine comes through in Lurex bronze flocked intarsia roses on black for tops with hand-studded knit collars.