A Weekend in Paris: Lanvin Snakes Forward

Published October 3, 2011

 

Today’s Hussein Chalayan is clean and luxurious. The days when he used to bury clothes to see how the fabric would decay are long gone—at least for now. The show, accompanied by a live choir, opened with minimalist skirt suits of varying volumes in nude and colors. Subsequently, nude turnd into slices of skin revealed, with bits of Turkish folkloric embroidery that were alluring and never decorative.

The fun was in the champagne flutes the models, supposedly at some gallery opening, were drinking—and the mysterious and melancholy waiter. Turns out there were cameras in the flutes, and each time a girl raised hers for a sip, the contents were reflected in a video backdrop. At show’s end, all was revealed: it was Chalayan himself playing the waiter.
 
Chitose Abe, Sacai’s founder and designer, has presented her collections in Paris with beautiful presentations for the past few seasons. This time she put on a real live show. And what a treat to see Abe’s clever mix-ups bustling down the runway. She started with a multi-tiered baby-doll tent dress in eyelet lace, which on closer inspection looked a bit like a trench coat. Dress fronts with lingerie backs, or strap-on skirt fronts, solve the problem of what to wear when you want to wear a little bit of everything at once—or more precisely when you want to look covered up, but slightly revealing, too.

HAIDER ACKERMANN; LANVIN

 

Haider Ackermann is fashion’s current golden boy, but he’s been a favorite of style aficionados for a long time. What is it about Ackermann’s style that has everybody watching him now? It’s elegant, but also very real, and when he talks about his work, he invariably conjures up a mysterious muse of indeterminate age, someone beyond trends and beyond conventions. This time, he dressed her in boyish tailoring. That is boyish if you were a luxuriously dressed street urchin in a souk in Istanbul, or Marrakech. Ackermann’s cinched-waist dressing gowns, square jackets, and slouchy trousers, show in gilt brocade and liquid metallic silks to wear with nothing underneath. This is about as sexy as boyswear for ladies gets.
 
Meanwhile, over at Lanvin, the play of transparence with hourglass skirts that seemed to have creases built-in were evocative. This season, Elbaz is like a sculptor. It was all very minimal until snakes showed up to coil on satin prints and twist around the curves lof one spectacular dress like a 3-D reptilian jewel. Ah, this dress reminds me of Nastassja Kinski and the snake by Richard Avedon for Vogue 1981. . . Today, all you need is Lanvin’s snake dress, but back then, as Avedon tells it, Kinski spent “two hours on a cement floor naked.”