Down in the Valli: Paris Day 6

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Published March 10, 2009

Stefano Pilati took Yves Saint Laurent to the Palais de Tokyo, Paris’s très gauche caviar contemporary art museum with its dramatically exposed wiring and slabs of rough concrete. There we unwound to jazz while sitting on elegant lacquered benches for two to view the most contemporary and wearable collection he’s produced for YSL to date. Funnily enough, I had a bird’s eye view of the back of Anna Piaggi’s head. The doyenne of Italian exquisitely eccentric fashion editors has always made for good eye candy, but what I didn’t realize before is that with her, no two angles are alike. Her backless derby, probably a Stephen Jones, has a nonstop headband. (LEFT: PERFECTO AT YSL)

Pilati got right down to business with a thick black leather perfecto biker jacket over tailored grey knee pants. He kept the perfectos coming: one with a silver ball studded collar and another that turned into a short jumpsuit. Then it was all about white puffy sleeve blouses, black leather pants and a grey chalk stripe men’s blazer, all superfluous detailing gone, over a very short slit skirt. The glitter here is the gritty kind seen in asphalt for a no-nonsense scoop neck dress with elbow-length sleeves.

With lightning speed Giambattista Valli has attracted a following of it girls from Paris to New York for his eponymous label while he’s single-handedly chicified the down jacket as artistic director for Moncler. Nan Kempner would have been pleased as punch with a collection that veered from sculptured cocoon coats to peacock feather skirts, black and white check marabou chubbys and blue tint fur with sculptural, baroque bijoux from Rome’s Luigi Scialanga. These are all grand-standing clothes and some erred on the stiffly authentic side, but the beauties Valli dresses will wear them younger. (LEFT: AT GIAMBATTISTA VALLI)

Sir Paul was the main paparazzi attraction before Stella McCartney’s show and it must have been humbling for Kanyé West, fashion’s self-appointed MC, seated a little further down the front row in flash bulb Siberia with his current squeeze, the skintight Amber Rose. McCartney is turning into a major designer who knows how to make the clothes women really want (without resorting to fur or leather). Her chubby coat is cinched over needle-heel stretch leatherette leggings that McCartney showed with almost everything. Jackets and coats are minimally detailed and cinched with skinny non-leather belts. And the dressy dresses, patched together from colorful silk, Chantilly lace, and transparent black voile, are sliced this way and that to flash maximum flesh…

Manish Arora is the crown Prince of Indian fashion and the first Indian designer to show in Paris. He’s loosened up since making his debut here a few seasons ago in the ballroom of the Grand hotel. This show was held in an airy Marais parking garage. Set to the pounding rhythms of the soundtrack from Slumdog Millionaire, Arora incorporated all the embroidery and beading India is famous for in clothes that operate like mechanical toys from a jacket with flapping wings for shoulders to the finale; a dress covered in a tangle of carnivorous plants having a feeding frenzy. (LEFT LEATHERETTES, NOT LEATHER, LEGGINGS AT STELLA MCCARTNEY)