Fashion Camp: Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Hermès




The final day of the Paris collections, which marks the end of the month-long European and American spring 2011 fashion marathon, ended with a blast of shiny color from two of the world’s most powerful houses: Louis Vuitton and Prada’s Miu Miu. Hermès, in its final season with Jean-Paul Gaultier, explored the feminine gaucho in black and white and honey colored leather.  
The bright satin hourglass cheongsams in Marc Jacobs show for Louis Vuitton are like glittery party hats on New Year’s Eve: guaranteed to put a festive spin on any occasion. Jacobs obviously hasn’t forgotten the dressing-down he received a few seasons back, when his namesake show got to a late start in New York. He launched this one on the dot as promised, leaving more than a few surprised editors to stagger to their seats in the dark.  With a backdrop of three taxidermied tigers and a faux black-and-white marble runway, the Suzie Wongs of Louis Vuitton had tinsel tassels dangling from their stilettos and shimmied in bright tinsel tassel flapper dresses.  This night in old Shanghai gave Jacobs ample opportunity to indulge in all the glitter, shocking color combinations and shiny textures which appeared this season like a fashion pick-me-up. The Chinese party girl is an archetype in fashion; she’s voluptuous, strident and also slightly androgynous. Towards the end of the show, Jacobs sent out a white satin pantsuit covered with an appliqué of giraffes which made the Susan Sontag quote, placed on everyone’s seat, crystal clear: “The relation between boredom and camp taste cannot be overestimated.  Camp taste is by its nature possible only in affluent societies, in societies or circles capable of experiencing the psychopathology of affluence.”
Miuccia Prada can’t stand sitting still either, and at Miu Miu, she sent out a posse of surrealist rodeo girls as a comment on our obsession with stardom.  Prada’s cowgirls are dressed for performance, in shocking satin color block dresses and wild western-tooled leather jackets in metallics and brights. What is particularly wonderful about this is the contrast between the garish fabrics and classic shape: scoop collars, polite knee lengths, soft waists and box pleats. In Prada’s wicked style twist, the box pleat, a symbol for Sunday-best good-girl dressing from time immemorial, reveals its naughty, garish possibilites.
Jean-Paul Gaultier went riding in Spain for his last season at Hermès, with gaucho tailoring in a mellow palette of honey-colored leathers with black and white. Gaultier is a master tailor, and this show played up all his skills in the lightest leathers, which he treated like fabric.  The best pieces in the show were the banded cardigan-jackets and the crossover jacket-tailored leather shirts tucked into man-tailored leather trousers or shorts.