Out and about in Paris: Akris, Lanvin, Elie Saab and J. M. Weston
A tour round Paris revealed a desire for artistic sophistication in fashion at Akris and Lanvin, mingled in with a little gracious storytelling at J.M. Weston and a dash of rebellion at Elie Saab.
Akris: Pixelated poise
Another concise, conceptual and commercial from the house of Akris, a collection influenced by a rather obscure yet undoubtedly gifted German artist, Reinhard Voigt.
And yet another rich array of modernist fashion by Akris’ Albert Kriemler, a proper actual fashion designer and not another 360-degree creative director more interested in social media stats that great clothes.
What’s special about Kriemler is the way he runs with an idea, to develop multiple elegant options for his sophisticated clients. Taking the pixelated designs of Voigt, who in turn had been influenced by his own mother’s cross-stitch embroidery.
Hence, the checkered patterns of Voigreint seen in his the red-lipped blond fantasy Marilyn Monroe images, turned into sherbet-hued pixelated cashmere sweaters; kaleidoscope ponchos; neoprene windbreakers; broken pattern tops and brilliant patchwork shaved shearling dusters.
“Reinhard Voigt to me is a great artist. He started painting in the 70s, but his pixel, trompe l’oeil images seem to me so today, with NFTs,” explained Kriemler.
For business meetings, Kriemler toned down the color palette to pale gray, pewter and coal, seen in perfectly cut pantsuits, cocktail dresses and long redingotes. Voigt’s mum would surely have been pleased by the multi-squared leather boleros and quilted ribbed peplum jackets. All displayed in a stylish video in the new Sou Fujimoto-designed staggered glass faculty building in the University of St Gallen, Albert’s hometown.
But what’s best about Albert is the way he never lets the concept overwhelm the clothes, suddenly switching the pixelation into just three colors – sea green, petrol and orange in a small group of really stunning evening dresses. Giving his latest artistically-influenced concept clout and class.
Elie Saab: Rebels rule
Something of a tidal wave of change chez Elie Saab, instead of haute-couture elitism, a rock'n'roll moment where the cast went into an insurgent mood.
Who would had ever expected a Saab gal to appear in bovver boots? We thought they all had chauffeurs.
“Rebellious and fierce,” beamed Saab, as he greeted celebs and beauties backstage – from Joakim Noah and uber influencer Olivia Palermo, to runway veterans like Coco Rocha and Toni Garrn.
In the packed curving gallery of the Palais de Tokyo, his cast stomped about in taut coat dresses finished with grommets; poetesses black serge coats sprouting endless plumes and rockstar slip dress cocktails topped by diamanté bras, all marching in military boots.
Elie also had plenty to offer his hipster grand-dames: slinky velvet caftans or a divine hibiscus green print suits.
A welcome shift of gear at Elie Saab, whose is also on the move internationally. This past week, he opened his first Elie Saab Maison store in Paris, following on Milan and the Gulf.
Plus, the designer has inked deals with Emaar – which built the world’s tallest building in Dubai, which includes a Giorgio Armani Hotel – to design branded gate communities in his modernist Art Deco style. They have already started work in the Gulf, Egypt and Vietnam.
Lanvin: Daisy in gothic
A new location, and plenty of new ideas from Bruno Sialelli for Lanvin, which welcomed guests to a new mock-gothic showroom mansion built on the south side of Parc Monceau.
All rather shiny and new clothes, albeit with plenty of references to founder Jeanne Lanvin. Sialelli playing with the daisy, Jeanne’s favorite flower, in fan-shaped motifs seen in a blue and pale green wool coat or a black, red and gold velour jerkin.
Though, his best ideas came in tailoring, with crushed velvet zoot suits and redingotes made in bashed up pink or high-tech blue.
The presentation staged one day after the opening of a significant memorial exhibition to Lanvin’s most famous designer in the past half century, Alber Elbaz, who died of Covid in April 2021. Based on some 40 designers homages to Alber in a joint runway performance called 'Love Brings Love'. Sialelli’s giant veiled dress with a massive image of Alber was easily one of the finest.
However, Bruno can be guilty of trying to hard: his catsuit tuxedo was a tad too improbable; his cocktail-hour sequined herringbone pattern sheer cocktails were fare awkward; and his pearly mannish suits would have a hard time working off a stage.
J. M. Weston: Shoe symphony
Only in France could the simple act of pulling on a pair of boots be turned into a work of performance art leavened with poetry.
Which happened inside the J.M. Weston boutique on Rue des Archives, in the latest mini-play and meditation on fashion dreamed up by the house’s creative Olivier Saillard.
A boutique emptied of shoes and turned into an all-white space for his show, the better to display 11 variations on the house sculptural Cambre ankle boot.
Starring actress Sonia Ichti, whom Saillard carefully shod in a series of Cambre boots. After each footwear change she read poems or told her own journey through life as a professional nomad.
Quoting Prévert in French and speaking in Portuguese, since Ichti graduated in ceramics in Brazil. Trying on gold leaf versions of the Cambre or others made of brown paper and even a pair in pure white dinner table ceramic. Perched inside an austere frame, donning the Cambre, a footwear icon ever since it was developed in J.M. Weston’s shoe plant in Limoges back in 1969.
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