Paris fashion week off to picture-perfect start

PARIS — It would have been impossible to plan a more picture-postcard perfect start to Paris fashion week than Portuguese designer Fatima Lopes’ spring-summer 2012 ready-to-wear display Tuesday atop the Eiffel Tower, where the clothes fought for the audience’s attention with a breathtaking view of the City of Light.

By (AP)

Published: Wed 28 Sep 2011, 9:32 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:56 AM

Sure, the venue presented a unique set of challenges: Ushering hundreds of fashionistas perched atop vertiginous heels and sewn into hobblingly narrow skirts into any old building is difficult enough under the best of circumstances. Whisking them hundreds of yards (meters) into the air atop one of the world’s most frequented tourist sites aboard achingly slow turn-of-the-century elevators is another problem altogether.

But even though they had to rub shoulders with the touristus vulgaris and dodge packs of souvenir sellers who proved even more pesky than the paparazzi, fashion insiders were tickled by the Lopes display — the first fashion show anyone could remember atop the Eiffel Tower.

Day one of Paris’ marathon nine-day-long collections is generally dominated by up-and-coming labels, and Tuesday was no exception. The French fashion world’s latest darling, Belgian designer Anthony Vaccarello, was the sartorial high point of the day, with his sex-drenched collection of ultra-minidresses aimed at a very specific demographic: jet-set party girls with endless legs.

Paris fashion week ratchets it up a gear on Wednesday, with displays by another Belgian critical darling, Dries Van Noten, and British bad boy Gareth Pugh.


Vaccarello won one of the French fashion world’s top prizes — this year’s ANDAM award — and the feeling that this young Belgian-born designer has friends in high places was faintly palpable at the show: On a day dominated by small houses of limited means, Vaccarello’s display stood out for its high production value and cast of coveted top models.

Luckily, the clothes — black ultra-minidresses with sexy cutout paneling, suggestive zippers and webbing that looked sure to snare just about any prey — lived up to the girls wearing them.

Leggy, American model Karlie Kloss vamped it up in an asymmetrical gown that looked like it had mated with 1980s swimsuits, leaving one of her endless legs entirely uncovered up to the hip, while the other was swathed in rippling panels of stretchy knits.

Narrow bands of material looped around metal wiring to form the barest of tops — paired with the shortest of skirts in gleaming micro-fiber. A plunging V-neckline and bare back won a black onesie the title of world’s sexiest overalls.

Besides some tops in sheer snake printed silk, everything was black or navy — and looked short and steamy enough to become the new uniform of the elite army of international party girls.


As the first model emerged onto the Eiffel Tower-top catwalk, thick black curtains parted to reveal a phenomenal view over Paris, and the low beige cityscape — bathed in the radiant glow of the Indian summer sum — competed for the audience’s attention with the clothes themselves.

Had the garments not been in screaming neons, the view might have won out.

But Lopes punctuated her featherweight slip dresses in translucent silks with vinyl detailings in a rainbow of eye-popping shades. The fluorescent orange neckline of an ankle-length beige sundress recalled a cyclist’s safety vest. A second-skin bustier dress was a patchwork of vertical strips of fuchsia, lemon and tangerine polyurethane. The barely pubescent models’ lips were lacquered in matching shades, and they wore 15-centimeter (6-inch) heels adorned with metal hardware that recalled the Eiffel Tower’s steel beams and struts.

It was the first time in recent memory that a fashion show on Paris’ official calendar has been held in the iconic monument — and considering the logistical challenge of getting everyone up the tower, it was probably just as well.

Still, though they’d never admit as much, even the most blase globe-trotting fashion insiders got a kick out of their trip up one of the world’s most iconic monuments.


The Japanese label served up lightweight A-line dresses and cropped trousers with trompe l’oeil paneling. Some of the looks were clever, like a pair of culottes with embellished with a panel of shiny material that made it look like a pair of hot pants had been layered on top. Simple A-line dresses were fitted out with flaps that mimicked ladylike little jackets.

Overall, it was easy, breezy streetwear that you could imagine making the leap from the catwalk to real life.


For his second ready-to-wear collection, Italian designer Corrado de Biase delivered a convincing collection of biase-cut gowns in airy silks with a flapper-ish appeal. De Biase, an accessories designer who’s collaborated with heavyweight houses including John Galliano, counterbalanced the feather lightness of the silks with quilted satin, served up on cropped jackets and culottes in pretty Asian prints.

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