By THOMAS ADAMSON
PARIS (AP) — Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren were the toast of Paris as the two septuagenarian actresses modelled for L’Oreal. The cosmetics giant transformed the Champs-Elysees avenue into a dazzling open-air fashion runway for a one-off event on Sunday.
Other sought-after Hollywood actresses flew in to the French capital to see the collection marking a new chapter of a storied fashion house.
Designer Clare Waight Keller’s debut show for Givenchy was one of the hottest tickets at this month’s Paris Fashion Week. Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Julianne Moore were in the audience. The actresses marveled at the seductive monochrome and flashes of color, applauding from the front row.
Here are some highlights of Sunday’s spring-summer ready-to-wear collections.
GIVENCHY’S NEW CHAPTER
In a season of debuts, Givenchy’s was surely the crowning show.
In a testament to its continuing prestige, the Parisian house was granted rare permission to hold its spring-summer show Sunday inside the secretive stone walls of the Palace of Justice, the former royal palace on the Seine River where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned before the guillotine.
The palace’s grand stone steps were wrapped for the occasion in a regal wrought iron shell — with “GIVENCHY” glimmering in gold above a gate.
Inside, celebrities and fashion critics held court. Film maker Pedro Almodovor, whose white Givenchy shoes matched his bright white hair, chatted animatedly with Moore, who matched in a stylish white tuxedo. Blanchett and Mara, both dressed head to toe in black, applauded vigorously as the collection’s 68 pieces went by.
“I’m very excited,” Mara said.
“It was extraordinary… The sleeves, and the fabrics, and the subtle use of color,” Blanchett said. “I’m excited for women and I’m really excited for Givenchy … She’s just taken it to a whole new level.”
WAIGHT KELLER DEBUT AT GIVENCHY
In a hand-written note signed “Clare,” Givenchy’s new designer gave guests some hints at her styling.
“Seduction is key. The most seductive things are not seen, but merely imagined,” she wrote.
This subtle yet powerful mantra was used with grace by the British designer who created a collection of fluttery, sensual gowns that moved the once-dark, brooding house into distinctly more feminine terrain.
Black and white were the touchstones as the display began with a printed silk dress with frothy panels around the shoulder and the leg. A blurry three-leaf clover motif shifted sizes. The visual confusion captured perfectly this sense of seduction, as it did away with the body contours beneath and left the spectator guessing.
In another stylish printed gown, a shoulder was exposed with uneven segments of silk gently cascading down the body. In a midnight blue peaked shoulder coat, color was introduced with a sexy, sheer décolleté and a 70s jabot collar.
For men, a shimmering metallic tuxedo led the looks that signaled that Waight Keller aims to lead the house in a saleable, more classical direction.
L’OREAL’S CHAMPS-ELYSEES FASHION SHOW
Tourists munching hamburgers on the first floor of the Champs-Elysees MacDonald’s couldn’t believe their luck as they peered down with a perfect view of one of Paris Fashion Week’s most anticipated events.
L’Oreal had transformed the Champs-Elysees into a one-off outside runway — enlisting 18 fashion houses, as well as countless stars and models to showcase clothes, makeup and hair trends.
The beauty giant billed it as a “once-in-a-fashion lifetime celebration.”
“It’s amazing,” purred model Irina Shayk backstage against the backdrop of the Arc de Triomphe.
Seventy looks from French design houses such as Balmain, Giambattista Valli and Isabel Marant were showcased to thumping music and cheered on by a VIP audience including supermodel Naomi Campbell.
But the biggest stars, for once, were on the runway.
Jane Fonda, 79, provoked screams from onlookers as she became the oldest model to walk the runway this Paris season — blowing out air-kisses in a figure-hugging bronze zebra dress and stopping at one point to hug Campbell in the audience.
“Well, it was exciting. It’s hard to believe I just did that on the Champs Elysees,” Fonda said after her turn as a model. “I liked it very much. I did not fall over.”
Helen Mirren, 72, also garnered excitement, walking down with bright red lips in a tailored royal blue coat and a cane that she theatrically waved.
Celebrating diversity and “beauty for everyone,” was the mantra of the luxury show that also featured normal-sized models.
THE EVER-CREATIVE CELINE
It was the suit, but not as you know it. Celine’s ever-imaginative designer Phoebe Philo was at the top of her game Sunday in a collection that took the everyday sartorial styles of London’s Saville Row and abstracted them.
A laurel green suit suddenly lost its buttons, lapels and fit — and hung loosely in a minimalist style from a model with a man’s hair style.
Suit pants in battleship gray were fashioned so baggy they lost the model underneath. A sage coat inspired by a trench coat had 3-meter (9-foot) tubular arms that hooped round at the bottom.
Elsewhere, oversize waistcoats hung asymmetrically down with a surreal, flat minimalist front and cascading undergarments that added a visual kinesis. Voluminous black leather wading-boot-heels gave the look a inimitable trendy feel.
Theatrical peplums, dropped white fringe skirts and rippling stripes, which appeared as the show progressed, distracted slightly from the abstract musing. But the Celine show was one of the most creative displays seen this season.
VALENTINO’S NEW LOOK
It was dramatic new-look Valentino.
Designer Pierpaolo Piccioli let the Valentino girl’s hair down this season with a more relaxed street-wise style with a sporty kick.
An eggshell coat with a plastic sheen and deconstructed feel opened the show. It covered a rippled mini dress that finished daringly at the upper thigh, and was followed by short culottes and sports vests that exposed glimpses of skin.
The sports-infused looks were the collection’s high points.
A short turtleneck gown in light gray with sporty lines cut a beautiful style as it hung loosely in a boxy silhouette.
Elsewhere, sporty shoulder straps added a fashion-forward feel to a vermilion floor-length gown that was gathered by a toggle at the hem.
The buttoned-up reputation that Piccioli garnered for Valentino with former design partner Maria Grazia Chiuri — who now is at Dior — is gone.
NO CAR DAY: SOUND FOR ECOLOGY, HEADACHE FOR FASHION WEEK
Paris wanted to reduce pollution by banning cars across the city from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
The move, while great for air quality and facilitating L’Oreal’s Champs-Elysees show, was a strain for some fashion houses. Worried brands like Valentino sent out myriad email reminders to car-driven guests to organize alternative transportation.
The car ban, the city’s third event under Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, has been an issue for fashion organizers who rely on trucks to install and remove the lavish, sky’s-the-limit shows. But the Paris couture federation, which supports the initiative, has spent months working with police and local authorities to ensure events run smoothly.
Paris has struggled recently with the highest levels of air pollution of any European capital.