By THOMAS ADAMSON
PARIS (AP) — It was debuts and fresh faces at Paris Fashion Week Wednesday as Lanvin’s new designer unveiled his first collection and Lacoste returned to the French capital.
Here are the highlights of the 2018 spring-summer ready-to-wear shows.
LANVIN’S PLAY-IT-SAFE DEBUT
The son of famed French designer Ted Lapidus, Olivier Lapidus had a lot to prove for his debut show at Lanvin, one of Paris’ most respected, yet keenly-critiqued, fashion houses.
Understandably, the 59-year-old played it safe.
Riffing on Grecian themes, models with ribboned ponytails marched down the runway with knee-length strap boots and crisscross belting.
In the clothes, black silken gowns rippled across the body contours — as one draped dress, sporting an asymmetrical voluminous sleeve, evoked Ancient Greece.
Elsewhere, crossover miniskirts in coral red or black read more like “Xena: Warrior Princess” than classic antiquity. They were a tad unoriginal — as was the use of the text “LANVIN” emblazoned blurrily across myriad dresses.
Still, the collection improved toward the finale with a diaphanous black silk column dress that was set off figuratively with a 1-foot white flower resting on each shoulder like a cloud.
“This year is the beginning,” said French actor Jean Reno of the collection, from the front row. “Next year, will be the Big Bang.”
JEAN RENO SEDUCED BY LANVIN
Sixty-nine year old Reno, a relative stranger to the Paris fashion industry, attended Lanvin’s Grand Palais display in his signature spectacles and a dark suit musing about the art of attraction.
“I believe I’m a little advanced in age, but I think seduction is almost the foundation of 98% of our doings,” he said, perhaps summing up the way many assume Parisians approach daily life.
“(Fashion) is — how can I put this? — almost a weapon of seduction,” he added.
The avuncular “Leon” star said he was attending the ready-to-wear debut to support his friend, Lapidus, whom he described as “a fantastic man as well as an artist.”
After a 13-year run in New York, storied French clothing company Lacoste returned to Paris to celebrate 85 years since it was co-founded by tennis player Rene Lacoste in 1933.
Moving city is no small feat.
First of all, Paris is a more expensive place to host a show, and, secondly, sports brands like Lacoste are more readily associated with New York and less so with the couture-dominant French capital.
But the French brand is taking the risk — hoping to capitalize on the current Paris trend for sneakers and luxury sportswear.
And they did so seamlessly in Wednesday’s sporty-meets-luxury display that packed some clever fashion twists.
A clean white T-shirt was twinned with a floppy sleeveless navy jacket — its sharp collar and shiny buttons were a take on a man’s sportswear blazer. It was paired with heels.
Meanwhile, a classy cobalt blue shoulderless dress with no frills had a great sporty minimalism.
The best moment came when a boring men’s striped sports shirt was blown up, deconstructed and twisted into a loose and feminine one-shoulder sweater.
DEBUTS, DEBUTS, DEBUTS
The fashion industry is synonymous with change — with creative heads rolling regularly at the top Paris houses, and new designers — and labels — sprouting forth.
But the buds of these spring shows are particularly new with several incoming designers of established houses unveiling much-anticipated first collections.
In addition to Wednesday’s Lapidus debut at Lanvin, Serge Ruffieux will debut at Carven, Richard Rene at Guy Laroche, Clare Waight Keller at Givenchy and Natacha Ramsey-Levi will unveil her first collection for Chloe.
And as well as Lacoste, other houses — Altuzarra, Thom Browne and Wendy Jim — will hold collections at Paris’ ready-to-wear week for the first time ever.
DRIES VAN NOTEN’S FOULARD
Superlatives are in order for Dries Van Noten.
The Belgian designer with a keen eye for color treated Wednesday’s guests to a sumptuous silken display that was pure visual pleasure.
The silk scarf, or foulard, was the muse.
Browns, purples and siennas set off touches of yellow and green in the vibrant collection of loosely fitting gowns — and a touch of menswear — that played with contrasts.
Blown up foulards were constructed as gowns, shirts and inset beautifully in dresses.
This produced the show’s best look — a one-shoulder black sweater that enveloped a shimmering bronze skirt, with two giant multicolored foulards billowing out from the waist in a kinetic explosion.
But where would the designer be without his signature flowers?
To tick that box, there was a stylish boxy menswear suit that teemed with yellow chrysanthemums.
KOURTNEY KARDASHIAN IN PARIS
The eldest of the Kardashian sisters, Kourtney Kardashian, has arrived in Paris for Fashion Week, one year after her sister Kim was the victim of a gunman heist.
The 38-year-old was in the City of Light with her partner, 24-year-old Younes Bendjima, where she visited luxury boutiques, flanked by her bodyguard.
Members of the Kardashian clan, once a fixture of the ready-to-wear and couture shows, have mainly kept away from Paris ever since last October’s theft of more than $10 million worth of jewelry from Kim Kardashian West.
Kardashian West has not returned to Paris since.
Having shown the principle female designs during menswear week, Kenzo let its hair down this season and educated guests in the art of a traditional Japanese dance. Designers Carol Lim and Humberto Leon also used the opportunity to launch a Kenzo denim collection named La Collection Memento No 2.
As guests chomped on Japanese street food, a Japanese Kagura troupe performed a theatrical dance dedicated to the Shinto gods.
The troupe enacted the dragon legend “Yamata no Orochi” but with the middle act retailored to the theme of clothes they were also showcasing: “Remembrance of Denim Past.”
There were chuckles aplenty.
The program notes explained that while “a ceremonial art, Kagura has evolved in many ways since its first performances over 1000 years ago. While initially its rituals were linked to the agricultural calendar, nowadays it is a form of entertainment typical in urban cities such as Hiroshima.”
Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K
By THOMAS ADAMSON