Paris Fashion Week showcasing 107 houses over 9 days

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PARIS | Paris is the center of the global luxury industry this week with Tuesday marking the first major day of ready-to-wear shows. Powerhouses Saint Laurent and Dior are among some 107 brands showcasing spring-summer 2023 collections at Paris Fashion Week. Here are some highlights so far:

DIOR’S NOSTALGIC PALACE

Guests including Natalie Portman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rosamund Pike and Emma Raducanu looked curiously at a decaying palace recreated inside an annex of the Tuileries Gardens. Vines crept through Renaissance doors, over fading wooden cornices and down weathered columns to evoke the mystery of bygone times.

The brand explained: Based loosely on the Dior headquarters on Avenue Montaigne, the set was also inspired by Catherine of Medicis, the Renaissance queen who moved to the Tuileries in the 16th century. She had the famed gardens and a palace built on the site that has since been razed. Catherine also brought heels, corsets and Italian Burano lace to the French court — picked up by Dior designer Maria Grazia Chiuri in this thoughtful show of 84 looks, heavy on black and white.

Writhing dancers performed alongside ribbed corsets, high Renaissance waists and lashings of lace encircling the dusty palatial runway.

Despite contemporary features such as sheeny fabrics and utilitarian toggles, Chiuri’s aesthetic rarely strayed from the history books. And to sublime effect — it made for Dior’s strongest show in seasons.

Heavy (15)80’s Renaissance ruching and ruffles ran down one skirt that was topped by a black “chainmail” vest that could have been worn at the YMCA in the (19)80’s. A LBD was gloriously anachronistic with a skirt that ballooned out like the top of a full skirt, but reined in with sporty toggles.

BOTTER’S STOMPING SNEAKERS

Sartorial met the aquatic on Tuesday at Botter’s co-ed show of crisp lapels, boxy jackets and poetical cutaways. They graced brightly colored suits.

Statement stomping sneakers — again, in vivid colors — provided contrasts with trendy suit-ware sometimes sporting marbled lines to evoke sea creatures’ tentacles.

Distressed double denim continued the underwater vibe on one male model who plodded down the runway with a blue knitted mask over his entire face, and transparent globules over his hands. It made him look as if he had been attacked by a jellyfish. Or Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh’s show may have been another dig at the coronavirus pandemic.

YSL IS ABOUT SEXY HOODS

Dramatic 80s shoulders, column silhouettes — and hoods — harked from the heyday of the late Yves Saint Laurent at the Parisian stalwart’s Tuesday evening show, all set to the twinkle of the Eiffel Tower.

The house founder fastidiously turned the “capuche” into one of his most iconic styles — originally inspired by the tubular sheath donned by dancer Martha Graham for her 1930 choreography Lamentation. So Saint Laurent would likely have looked fondly upon the offering by designer Anthony Vaccarello, who took this hood style and ran — or strutted — with it.

A 90s refinement infused the glaringly 80s capuches that came in muted or caramel tones — hues also reminiscent of that garish era. This hood formed the base silhouette of many pared-down ensembles, which contrasted with statement gold earrings or large wooden bracelets, and oozed sex appeal. Heavy open wool coats and regal trenches, which caressed the floor, created a rectangular window frame through which to see the pants in some clever fashion theater. Elsewhere, short turtlenecks on figure hugging jerseys evoked an aesthetic that screamed sensual pleasure.

VAQUERA BRINGS STARS AND STRIPES TO PARIS

A flash of American funk graced Paris for Monday’s installment of fashion week — a day reserved for up-and-comers. Vaquera, who came to prominence five years ago in New York with a U.S. flag gown with massive train, moved this season across the pond and was a highlight.

Designers Patric DiCaprio and Bryn Taubensee mixed their edgy styles with looks that moved in a more commercial direction for spring-summer. Distressed denim, the punk exuberance and corsetry of Vivienne Westwood’s heyday and lashings of Americana references — like a loose sheeny biker jacket — defined the often-saleable 31-look display.

The U.S. flag made its runway return, here as a sheer shawl that led down to a fabulous ballooning parachute skirt.

LANCOME’S LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

The first major party of the season celebrated one of Paris’ most iconic perfume and cosmetic brands: Lancome. A stone staircase dappled in colored light led VIP guests including model Noemie Lenoir into the palatial Petit Palais venue by the banks of the Seine River Monday night.

This season Lancome, owned by L’Oreal, celebrated the 10th anniversary of its best-selling French perfume “La Vie Est Belle” — or “life is beautiful.” Victoria’s Secret model Sara Sampaio also made the party in the famous art museum in a black mini with frills.

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