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Louis Vuitton RTW Spring 2015

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Louis Vuitton RTW Spring 2015 Images & Source WWD

“A beginning is a very delicate time,” delivered a Greek chorus of giant, attractive young faces that were projected onto glass screens at the start of the Louis Vuitton show. Their scale and sci-fi intonation continued the otherworldly aura of the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton, which has its official opening later this month. The vast, multi angle, multi winged spaceship of a building looks inviting and imposing.

That juxtaposition — or was it a fusion? — of techno cool with the warm, nostalgic familiar presaged Nicolas Ghesquière’s second collection for Vuitton. Backstage before the event, the designer said he considered it an honor to show in the space but that he didn’t create the collection specifically to work within it. “Of course, I was projecting my work into the environment,” he said. “But it was not a direct reference to the space. It’s only been six months. I’m building that wardrobe, and I’m defining what is Louis Vuitton today, thinking about different moments for the multiple women I’m projecting for Louis Vuitton. But again, it’s, like, March. Not a big statement.”

He undersold. This collection was a huge step from fall’s pleasant transitional effort. That said, Ghesquière did, indeed, continue with the wardrobe-building template he established then. Here, he did it with greater range and flamboyance, even a dose of humor. He opened with beautiful, intricately wrought multi textured crochet and lace dresses, some played against slick geometrically patterned eel. These went two ways: clean and precise or fluid and girly. Yet Ghesquière has always been a pants guy. His most elegant looks were a pair of jackets over shaggy fur liners and shorts. Though ergonomic knee-pad detailing harkened back to Ghesquière’s past life in futuristic sci-fi fashion, he preferred to linger elsewhere. “Sure, there’s a hint of the Seventies,” he said. And not always the chicest hint — crushed velvet jeans, anyone?

Bags
— what do you think? — were shown in numerous shapes and treatments, including a feisty red-on-black update of the monogram.

Runway

Chanel RTW Spring 2015

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Chanel RTW Spring 2015 Images & Source WWD

What is it they say of great storytelling? Sometimes you have to suspend disbelief? So let’s suspend disbelief long enough to consider an unlikely characterization: Karl Lagerfeld, the Norma Rae of fashion.

The flamboyant, fashion-filled collection Lagerfeld showed on Tuesday morning ended with a raucous demonstration: nearly 90 gloriously turned-out women carrying placards and shouting pro-fashion slogans, lead by a megaphone-wielding Gisele. They were occupying the chicest of city streets — the dazzling 130-meter Chanel Boulevard, which Lagerfeld dreamed up and commissioned, its grand facades extending 25 meters into the domed expanse of the Grand Palais.

Women demanding the right to be chic — now there’s a cause. And, not that Lagerfeld’s turning all P.C. on us, there was a message here: “All different kinds of women, all different kinds,” he said during a preview, noting that they’d all have different makeup, with hair “hardly groomed…It’s like walking in the streets.”

He explained the show’s premise, that it would end with a feminist show of force, his appreciation for the cause inherited from his mother. “It’s nice to be a feminist,” Lagerfeld offered. “She was very much into that. She used to say to me, ‘Men are not that important. If you are not too ugly you can have a baby with any man you want.’ You can wait a few years to tell your children,” he said to Bündchen.

Lagerfeld played to the street-fashion shtick in high style, with a diverse, often inventive, lineup. Most daring and utterly fabulous: an enormously exploded vibrant floral silk print, the original painted by Lagerfeld himself. He used it on one side of reversible coats, the other side colorful tweeds (of course), and affixed to leather boots for protest-marching in style.

Some of his women wore long, relatively sober tweed jackets over wide pants, others favored splashier fare, literally — dark tweeds painted over with bright multicolor spots. There was a pin-striped moment (career gals deserve fashion, too) with knee shorts matched to crisply poetic white shirts, and even some army green. One shirtdress-over-skirt boasted Chanel’s newest accessory: a jacket-turned-bag worn as a cross-body. And, oh yes, what would a Parisian street scene be without “cement” dresses? Lagerfeld crafted these from little rectangular leather tiles painted in semi-glossy silvery gray to look like the rue beneath your feet. Some had feisty flowers sprouting up in between, in defiance of the city’s foot traffic.

Speaking of which, Lagerfeld showed not a single high heel. “It’s not the red carpet,” he said. “It’s the street.”

Runway

Valentino RTW Spring 2015

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How Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have successfully reshaped the house of Valentino during their tenure is quite remarkable. They’ve defined and developed their vision of demure bohemia and modest chic to a level of consistency that continues to resonate beautifully and feel special without begging for biannual reinvention. So it was for spring.

Dual wellsprings of national pride, the designers often cite Italy as their big-picture inspiration, extracting something specific, but nonessential, to the resulting product: Here, the Grand Tour, the 18th-century tradition of British post-university young men of privilege completing their studies with a sight-seeing trip through Europe. Naturally, Chiuri and Piccioli concentrated on the Italian leg of the tour, which typically included Rome, Venice, Naples and possibly a beach excursion. Ultimately, it gave them license to take a roving approach to the collection.

“It’s a journey, but a reflection about what we are,” said Piccioli backstage. “It’s a release of joy and stream of consciousness; fragments of memory.”

A fantasy travel wardrobe for a fabulous itinerary, the lineup included roundly tailored linen jackets, dresses in Baroque scarf prints and florals that looked like stained glass, white eyelet for the naif and fanciful seaside motifs such as starfish and sea horses on gracefully dramatic gowns fit for a black-tie beach occasion. Everything flaunted the incredible craftsmanship of the Valentino ateliers.

Like a cinematic flashback, much of the collection was cast in soft focus, the dreamy nostalgia captured with a breathtaking group of rainbow pastels: curved chevron panels in pink, lavender and pale-green embroidered linen done in laser-cut eyelet on dresses and a skirt worn with a sweet sweater in the same pattern.

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Runway

Chloé RTW Spring 2015

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Chloé RTW Spring 2015 Images & Source WWD

Gaby Aghion founded Chloé in 1952 with a vision to defy the formal haute couture of the time with alluring, feminine clothes made of fine fabrics that required few alterations. Clare Waight Keller could not have known that Aghion would pass away a day before Chloé’s spring show, but the collection beautifully epitomized the founder’s original maxim. Backstage, Keller said her focus was on fabrics that tell a story, “laces that had flowers and birds, and the idea of utilitarian cotton and denim that, as you wear it, it ages and starts to tell the story of your life.”

To open the show, she chose a trio of gauzy maiden minidresses, barely constructed from crafty lace and linen suspended from the skinniest spaghetti straps. That idea progressed into billowing chiffon goddess gowns done in powdery pastels, navy and terra-cotta, some worked with lace. These nodded at the house’s Lagerfeld era. They grazed the body in a soft expression of feminine freedom — fragile though they looked, a dress dependent on the strength of a shoestring requires acute confidence.
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Runway

Dior RTW Spring 2015 Collection

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Dior RTW Spring 2015 Collection Images & Source WWD

Backstage before his Christian Dior show on Friday, Raf Simons explained that his spring starting point was the couture collection he showed in July. He chose to adapt its elements for two reasons, because of the excess speed of fashion and because many ready-to-wear clients had expressed their desire for clothes in a vein similar to the mood of the couture.

That collection’s ruse was the establishment of a new modernity through examination of historical motifs, particularly 18th-century court attire, cross-referenced with disparate elements, from street to stratosphere.

His approach here was similar. Simons took it all down a notch, as befits the gap from couture to mere luxury. What remained: a focus on cut, inspired by the court coat and because, he said, “you see so many clothes that have so much stuff on them that I started to think more about actual construction. Also because that’s what Christian Dior did so much — an architectural approach.”

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