Issey Miyake Goes Geometric at Paris Day 3

Sultry Amazons in negligees and jodhpurs and modern-day Nefertitis in identical blunt-cut black wigs skulked Paris’ catwalk on Friday, as the French capital’s fall-winter 2010-11 ready-to-wear shows moved into an exhilarating day three.

Christian Dior designer John Galliano was out of the gates with a sexy equestrian-themed show that synthesized two of the luxury label’s recent looks: riding gear and lingerie-as-outerwear. Cropped tweed jodhpurs were paired with ruffle-y tops in whisper-light chiffon, and the girls pranced down the runway in stiletto-heeled riding boots that would certainly get you killed if you dared mount a horse in them.

At Lanvin, Alber Elbaz did it again, giving his hoards of fans yet more perfectly draped dresses, chic cocoon coats and big, square shouldered power suits to lust after. Sporting identical black wigs, with chunky wooden necklaces gleaming with rhinestone studs, the models had the raw, regal look of the ancient Egyptian queen, Nefertiti.

Prince Charming, in Ceylon blue tights and a mad swirl of knits sweaters, vests, scarves and coats in clashing colors, walked an oddly tame and sober Vivienne Westwood catwalk.

Across town, at Japanese label Issey Miyake, clothes and advanced mathematics had a meeting of the mind, and a jumble of multicolored scarves was meant to illustrate an Ivy League professor’s theory about the shape of the universe.

Maison Martin Margiela left the models’ rear ends out in the cold, with a willfully difficult collection of backless pants and heinous anvil-shaped, fur-covered headgear that was more tiresome than edgy.

Brazilian wunderkind Pedro Lourenco debuted in Paris with an impressive collection of leather dresses featuring peekaboo paneling in flesh-colored tulle. At the tender age of 19, the dashing young designer — both of whose parents are also designers — is a fixture of Sao Paulo’s fashion week, where he has shown his own line since 2005.

The City of Light’s eight-day-long ready-to-wear marathon moves into day four on Saturday with shows by former French enfant terrible Jean Paul Gaultier, Spanish leather maestros Loewe and Dutch design duo Viktor & Rolf.


The label dazzled with a collection that, though starker than in seasons past, felt spot on. Designer Elbaz, who has returned the formerly flailing house into a label coveted by women of taste the world over, has an uncanny sense of what women want — and he once again succeeded in delivering the goods.

The looks, mostly in a somber palette of black, charcoal and navy, went seamlessly from dangerous day to sultry night. There were black power suits with sculptural shoulders that formed 90 degree angles and nipped waists, as well as asymmetrical silk sheath dresses with rhinestone-studded zippers running down the back that would slay in the boardroom and the nightclub. The cocoon coats were perfect, with glinting studded leather belts.

“I love women and I’m inspired by women and what they want,” the genial Israeli-born designer said backstage. “The biggest joy for me is to see the dress I designed on the street on real women. That’s when the surreal becomes real.”

And the biggest joy for Elbaz’ legions of fervent female fans is to wear his surreally beautiful creations.


The French luxury powerhouse fielded an Amazon-inspired collection at the spring-summer haute couture shows last January. But while Galliano’s couture equestrians were creatures of the day, the ready-to-wear women were night riders who mixed naughty lingerie with their sturdy horse gear.

An electrical storm, with flashing lights and a soundtrack of clapping thunder and thumping hoofbeats set the tone for the racy, romantic show.

Cropped tweed jodhpurs were paired with skimpy lingerie tops and trenches in buttery maroon leather, and the models wore thigh-high riding boots with stiletto heels.

Leather — the horsey material par excellence — was seen everywhere, from little jackets with pinched waists and ample peplums to flippy skirts in punched leather so fine it looked like lace. Even a black strapless cocktail dress was made in vampy black leather.

Eveningwear was whisp-light, a muted rainbow of feathery silks spun into delicately beaded empire waisted gowns and nighty dresses.

Movie star Charlize Theron — the face of Dior’s “J’adore” perfume — hailed the collection as “wonderful” as she schmoozed backstage with Galliano, Dior president Sidney Toledano and French billionaire and the head of Dior’s parent company LVMH, Bernard Arnault, as scrum of photographers and TV crews chomped at the bit outside.


Would-be Prince Charmings sporting painted-on mustaches bravely shouldered layer upon layer of chunky oversized blanket coats, hole-riddled sweaters, scarves and shawls on their tiny frames. In keeping with Westwood’s hallmark excess and irreverence, the rarely matching layers were a hodgepodge of competing prints and clashing colors, with zany accessories piled high.

Mammoth plastic flowers the size of a dinner plate dressed up (or weighed down?) some of the looks, while one model was saddled with not only an oversized backpack but also a huge leopard-print tote. Multicolored strands of ticker-tape were worn in guise of a scarf with a 1950s style cocktail gown whose skirt was overflowing with pink tulle.

The top-heavy looks were worn over printed leggings or draped, satiny jodhpurs.

In a backstage interview, Westwood said she had been inspired by the characters in Grimm’s fairy tales — Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella and Prince Charming in his Ceylon blue tights.

“I wanted them to look really exotic as well as looking like they just stepped out of the Black Forest,” the madcap, carrot-topped designer said in her distinctive drawl.

Exotic, maybe, but not as fun as usual. The models were stony-faced and their stilettos tapped out an almost military beat as they marched down the catwalk. With the exception of one model who was chatting on a cell phone as she walked, the show had less of the zany, anarchic spirit that usually overflows at a Westwood display.


Fashion scaled the ivory tower at Miyake, where complicated mathematical theorems found expression in fabric.

On hand at the display was Cornell University Professor William Thurston, whose Geometrization Conjecture inspired the label’s designer, Dai Fujiwara. Thurston’s theory was described in the collection notes as “a comprehensive vision of eight geometries that are sufficient to form an ideal shape for all possible three-dimensional topologies.”

Sound complicated? That’s because it was — particularly for a milieu like fashion, where normal sources of inspiration generally include far less esoteric themes like gypsies, rock princesses or ’60s chic.

Still, the clothing — snugly cocoon sweaters and draped harem pants gathered with elastic bands — was concrete and easy to grasp.

The collection, in an eye popping rainbow of mostly high-tech fabrics, riffed on the idea of oblong shapes and loops, circles and spirals — Thurston’s model metaphors for the universe.

A beige blazer was emblazoned with swirling loops of fluorescent pink piping and paired with shiny beige draped leggings. A backless vest in metallic gray wool was but a doughnut shape that wrapped around the model’s body. A tangle of circular scarves in primary shades stood in for more conventional shirts.

Professor Thurston, sporting a Miyake blazer for the occasion, said his discussions with designer Fujiwara had uncovered real areas of overlap between their seemingly disparate fields.

“We are both trying to grasp the world in three dimensions,” Thurston told The AP. “Under the surface, we struggle with the same issue.”

For his first-ever fashion show, Thurston — sporting a Miyake blazer for the occasion — took in the spectacle from his first-row perch. At the end of the show, he stood in his cute, absent-minded professor-ly way, for a bow.

“I thought it was beautiful interpretation of the ideas we talked about,” said Thurston. “Not a literal interpretation, of course, but really quite pretty.”


The 19-year-old Brazilian wowed the audience of jaded fashion insiders with his bold and kinky collection of leather looks.

Lourenco delivered A-line dresses in colorblocked paneling in black, ecru, sand, chocolate-colored leather, with suggestive peekaboo windows of flesh-colored tulle. He worked the leather to within an inch of its life, coaxing it into inventive shapes and building it into sculptural mosaics.

Thin strips of leather were stacked horizontally, like a mille-feuille pastry, down the front of one dress so that from the side, it looked like apartment towers with balconies on every floor. A cocktail dress had a kicky skirt made of thick triangular pieces of leather that looked like the dorsal fins of a band of marauding sharks attacking their prey. The shoes — knee-high boots and pumps — also had stiff fins sticking out of them, and heels in primary colors.

“I wanted to do something that was at once architectural and organic, where the decoration wasn’t just tacked on but a vital part of the structure,” Lourenco told The AP in a backstage interview.

With his Paris debut, Lourenco appeared to have impressed an influential player, Paris Vogue editor-in-chief Carine Roitfeld.

“I think it was very personal, an amazingly personal vision he showed there,” Roitfeld cooed to reporters after the show, which ended with whistles and whoops of enthusiasm from the audience.