On Tuesday morning, Chanel went where Chanel has never gone before: to the barnyard. “I spent part of my childhood on a farm,” designer Karl Lagerfeld said at the show, on the final day of Paris Fashion Week. And so models in dainty tweed jumpers, black lace bell skirts, and mile-high heels trekked through the dirt and hay on the farm mega-set. “How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paree?” Women’s Wear Daily quoted from a song. “Apparently the lyricist hadn’t considered the lure of fields with Farmer Lagerfeld doing the tilling.”
And from down on the farm to out in space, Marie Antoinette-like aliens in futuristic brocades walked around a glowing pod at the Alexander McQueen show on Tuesday night. The show was live-streamed on ShowStudio.com, and featured a video interview between McQueen and photographer Nick Knight. “It’s taking something that already exists and democratizes it,” said Andrew Essex of advertising agency Droga5. “It gives real fans access to the show who can’t go to the show.”
Fantasies aside, there was, thankfully, some old-fashioned sportswear in Paris. It was back to reality on the Celine runway, which marked former Chloé designer Phoebe Philo’s return to the fashion world after four years off. The clothes were chic and utilitarian, and, according to New York Times critic Cathy Horyn, “put out a mature, confident, and sexy vibe.” Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy, on the other hand, juxtaposed sharp tuxedo jackets with romantic Grecian drapes. “Just about everything in his show was fresh-looking and desirable,” Horyn wrote.
Balenciaga reclaimed the streets of Paris with classic modern sportswear. “I wanted to do something urban,” said designer Nicolas Ghesquiére. “No more history for the moment!” And of-the-moment it most certainly was, with hoodie-vests, open-toed boots, and vegetable-dyed leather jeans. Striped mesh tops fell loosely over leather bras, and bold stripes beautifully played off the intricate detailing on jeans and jackets.
The look was strictly sharp and sleek at Balmain, where spangled military jackets marched one by one, each with epaulets and flourishes more dazzling than the next. From the revolutionary war references to a gold, armored modern day Athena, Women’s Wear noted that at Balmain, “no soldierly motif was left unturned.” But Jean-Paul Gaultier took us from the battlefield into the boudoir with black lacy bras under pink silk, garters and high-stockings, and—in a nod to his favorite muse—a Madonna-inspired red leather dress.