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06/03/2014

Nicolas Ghesquière brings joy to Louis Vuitton at Paris fashion week

 

The autumn/winter 2014 catwalk season ended today with the show everyone had been waiting for, as Nicolas Ghesquière closed Paris fashion week with his first collection for Louis Vuitton. Ghesquiere is one of the most revered, talented and innovative designers of his generation; Louis Vuitton is the world's biggest luxury brand. From both commercial and aesthetic perspectives this catwalk show was a hugely significant moment for contemporary fashion. And with Ghesquière stepping into the role previously held by Marc Jacobs, one of the great showmen of modern fashion, it was taken for granted that nothing less than a grand, theatrical debut would do.

 

In the event, instead of pyrotechnics, we got sunshine. Quite literally: after guests had taken their seats in a dimly lit marquee erected in an internal courtyard of the Louvre, the chrome slats lining the walls opened like Venetian blinds, allowing natural light to flood. It was a neat, palate-cleansing contrast with recent shows by Jacobs for Vuitton, which were held in the exact same spot, but whose marquees contained complicated secret worlds: a stage set of a hotel corridor one season, station platforms with models alighting from trains another.

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Everything about the presentation was happy, fresh and upbeat. Ghesquière seemed at pains to move on from the image that settled on him, during his years at Balenciaga, as a tortured genius creating clothes of savage beauty which only the bold would dare wear. That image was underscored, in the years since he left Balenciaga, by an ongoing dispute with his ex-employers, which will play out in a Paris court in four months' time. A letter was left on every seat, signed simply and informally from "Nicolas" and printed in a typewriter-style font, evoking a personal note rather than a business memo. "Today is a new day," it began. It expressed first the designer's "immense joy" on the occasion, and made warm mention of Jacobs, "whose legacy I wholeheartedly hope to honour." Tellingly, and highly unusually for a communiqué from a luxury powerhouse, the word "brand" did not appear once, with Ghesquière referring instead to "the Louis Vuitton philosophy". The natural light, the classically Parisian setting, the framing of the label as a home of great designers rather than as a brand: all these made a strong statement that Ghesquière's Louis Vuitton will hope to embody warmth and bring pride to French fashion. It is not incidental that Ghesquière's appointment has broken a run of plum design roles being awarded to foreign designers.

 

After the setting, came the clothes. Or rather, the bags, and the clothes worn by the models who carry them. Clothing accounts for only five per cent of Louis Vuitton sales, and even less of its profits, with leather goods alone accounting for 90%. The huge publicity generated by Jacobs' extraordinary catwalk outfits was channelled into generating desire not for the clothes themselves but for the more profitable handbags, wallets and suitcases. Analysts are watching with interest to see whether Ghesquière will try to raise the profile of ready-to-wear at Louis Vuitton as he did at Balenciaga, where the commercial success of It bags such as the Lariat was complemented by critical acclaim for clothes influential silhouettes and colours.

 

Ghesquière's first Vuitton bags were highly commercial. A cute miniature version of an old-fashioned suitcase, referring to Vuitton's heritage as a luggage label, was the key style for the season, appearing multiple times on the catwalk. The same style of bag also appeared worn in the front row, on the arm of Delphine Arnault, daughter of Bernard and second-in-command at Vuitton, and the supermodel Natalia Vodianova, who is engaged to Delphine's brother Antoine Arnault. Other tried-and-tested Vuitton shapes were prominent, including the cylindrical "Speedy", now with the Ghesquière touch of a futuristic prism print, and a scaled-down weekend holdall in panels of monogrammed and patent leather. Ghesquière has said of his time at Balenciaga that, contrary to the impression of him as an ivory-tower designer, "right from the start I wanted it to be commercial". At Vuitton, he appears to have the same plan.

 

But when it came to the clothes – traditionally more of a strong point for the designer rather than Vuitton - Ghesquiere's Vuitton started to look more experimental and interesting. Leather featured heavily, linking the clothes to the bags, but there was an abundance of cracked patent leather, rather than the more obviously luxurious soft version. An artificially raised waistline, and jackets with chunky square collars reminiscent of 1960s car salesmen also brought a frisson of oddness to the collection. Silk-and-leather, panelled-and-zippered cocktail dresses were a delight, avant-garde in their conception but executed with a light and feminine touch. In the front row, three generations of Boulevard Saint Germain style aristocracy – Catherine Deneuve and daughter Chiara Mastroianni, Charlotte Gainsbourg and her toddler daughter Joe - applauded these warmly.

 

Backstage after the show, the mood was positively joyous. A throng of well-wishers surrounded Ghesquière as he posed for photographs with Delphine Arnault, who was key in hiring him and with whom he is said to have a strong relationship. Ghesquière has said of Balenciaga that "I never had a [business] partner, and I ended up feeling too alone." At Vuitton, he is doing everything he can to set the stage for happiness.

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08:02 Publié dans News | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

04/03/2014

Neutral makeup and pushed-back hair top the best beauty statements from the red carpet

 

Simplicity was key when it came to hair and makeup at the 2014 Oscars. Natural texture, neutral makeup and glowing skin made for the biggest beauty statements of the night, with just a few punchy lip colours and smoky eyes appearing on the red carpet.

 

For hair, the trend of the night was a tie between the deep side part and no part at all. Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Portia de Rossi, Naomi Watts and Lupita Nyong’o were just a few of the stars to opt for the pushed-back look, keeping hair off their faces. For Lawrence, her finger-combed, almost-bouffant gave a grown-up feel to her fresh pixie cut while still being a hairstyle that wasn’t overly fussy. Adams had one of the more structured hairstyles on the Oscars red carpet, but the slight bump at the front of her very-lacquered updo gave it playful appeal, while Watts’ Grace Kelly-inspired hair made us want to run our fingers through our own throughout the night. Rounding out the pushed-back looks was Nyong’o, who wore a delicate headband that anchored her dramatic style.

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As for deep side parts, Cate Blanchett, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Garner and Sandra Bullock all rocked this classic red carpet style and they all also swapped out the usual Old Hollywood red lip for neutral tones. Blanchett’s light-pink makeup palette complemented her opalescent earrings—a strong contender for best accessory of the night!—with a light touch of mascara and rose-coloured lipstick to balancing the look out. Bullock also matched her makeup to her dress, making a subtle colour statement with teal eyeliner. It was just bright enough to add visual interest against her smoky eyeshadow but didn’t look too over the top on the red carpet. Also a lifelong fan of the smoky eye is Angelina Jolie, who amped up the look last night with some dramatic false lashes and shimmering taupe shadows.

 

And, while neutral makeup reigned supreme at the 2014 Oscars, there was some colour to be had. Emma Watson‘s burnt red lipstick suited her complexion so well we wouldn’t be surprised to find out that it was a custom mix. But the best colour of all goes to Kerry Washington: Her deep berry lip and matte makeup was a departure from the shimmering, glowing look that Washington usually wears while playing Olivia Pope, which made it an excellent option on the red carpet.

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07:56 Publié dans News | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

28/02/2014

On a Youth Kick

 

Youth is the cause célèbre here. There is a sour sense that the next generation of great designers has yet to come. Figuring out who they are is part of the task of the newly established LVMH Prize. It will offer 300,000 euros (about $412,000) and industry mentorship to the winner of an open contest — provided he or she is younger than 40, with at least two collections already in hand.

 

Who is the face of youth? Maybe it is the effervescent Simon Porte Jacquemus, 24, one of 30 semifinalists, whose line, Jacquemus, is humming with buzz. He called his fall runway show “La Femme Enfant” (“The Baby Girl”). His idea, he said, had been to have something “very raw and fresh, but very naïve.” His oversize, cartoony garments, made of spongy neoprene in crayon colors — he compared the texture to children’s play mats — had a childlike perversity that both charmed and jarred. It plunged guests waist-deep into its childhood world, right down to its collection-complementing uniform: a brightly dotted smock handed out to each attendee to don for the show.

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The buzz attending Mr. Jacquemus’s ascent did not drown out dissenters who wondered if grown women long to dress like la femme enfant. But his daffy, cheerful show did suggest that one might like to have what he’s having. Especially since two of fashion’s sharpest-eyed spotters of avant-talent, Rei Kawakubo and Adrian Joffe of Comme des Garçons, have fixed on him as one to watch.

 

Or maybe youth is another competitor, Yang Li, 26. If Mr. Jacquemus stakes a claim to child’s play, Mr. Li aims for adult polish — up to a point. He began with the stuff of traditional luxury (fur, calf, double-face wool-cashmere), then twisted the knife. A single piece might be exactingly constructed, then rent to its raw edges by the hem. (It was, he said, a constant challenge to persuade his factories in Italy, accustomed to perfection, to tear apart their pieces.) “For me, this is the answer to modern luxury,” he said. “It needs to be more than perfection.” It lent a touch of anarchy to his poise.

 

Or then, of course, it could be one of 28 others. But even with the rage for youth in full flare, Paris Fashion Week also put forth plenty of seasoned designers whose examples would be worth following. One is Christophe Lemaire, whose collections make a case for forging one’s own path (not least because Mr. Lemaire’s led him to Hermès, where in 2010 he was named women’s designer). Mr. Lemaire’s heroine is flinty and strong, more Katharine Hepburn than Katy Perry, and he doesn’t hesitate to bundle her in layers of yak wool, felt, alpaca and gabardine. But his clothes have a quiet appeal, and it’s not hard to imagine women wanting to wear them. It may not hurt that he designs with one: his partner, Sarah-Linh Tran. She appears even more reticent than Mr. Lemaire. But, he said with a smile, “She’s the boss.”

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07:09 Publié dans News | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)