Glitzy Valentino show sees Paris Fashion Week at a fever pitch

PARIS (AP) – Valentino’s fashion show in Paris on Sunday saw black cars roped into blocks delivering battalions of celebrities who, amid the commotion, simply couldn’t find the entrance.

Seated VIP guests were crammed into a sweat in the Le Marais’ Carreau du Temple venue, waiting when the show started an hour late. Outside, screaming spectators braved the rain for hours to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars.

Fever like this at ready-to-wear fashion shows in Paris is reminiscent of the French capital’s pre-pandemic fashion scene – another visible sign that the industry is reviving after the devastation caused by the coronavirus.

Here are some highlights from Sunday’s Spring-Summer 2023 collections in Paris:

VALENTINO’S REVELATION

“Cuts and transparencies reveal the persona,” the brand said of designer Pierpaolo Piccioli’s glitzy spring collection, which mixed gimmicks with moments of thoughtful fashion prowess.

Models with faces and necks completely covered in disturbing interlocking “V” makeup kicked off the show, introducing the theme of the reveal.

The inside-out or back-to-front exploration continued in a gorgeous nude skin-like top with matching nude pants sparsely speckled with sheer plumes on model Anna Cleveland.

One coat had ostrich feathers sticking out through the seams from the inside. The sides of some of the dresses were hollowed out, while a dazzling purple sequined floor-length dress showed the model’s flesh only at the back.

But at times it felt like the acclaimed Italian designer might be trying to fit in too much. At outfit number 91, it also felt exhausting – with fashion insiders hesitant to wrap up the show.

The Valentino finale was the real reveal of the show, which was broadcast live: the models didn’t even walk past seated guests as usual, but straight out to the cheering crowd.

THE ART OF INVITATION

The art of chic inviting is still an important part of the Parisian luxury industry.

The small works of art sometimes give a hint of what the collection has in store; other times they are just crazy.

Balenciaga’s spring invitation was – unfathomably – a real used leather wallet with real French franc bills, a health card, a picture of a house cat and credit cards and other things that came out. Numerous videos appeared on social media of surprised guests opening their ‘invitation’.

A fashion insider exclaimed, “But how do you know how to get to the show?”

Valentino’s invitation was a smooth black cube that opened with only a QR code inside. Chanel’s was a map of Kristen Stewart’s face that was so big it wouldn’t fit in mailboxes.

BARBARA BUI IS SMART

Low-key French designer Barbara Bui is a prime example of how the pandemic has hit the fashion industry – for better and for worse.

Many homes went digital during the lockdowns, opting to run a fashion film rather than put on a show, which had been banned for months. In this spring season in Paris, like in Milan, the industry seems to be returning to pre-pandemic catwalks, but Bui’s was one of several collections that continued the fashion film format.

It’s a smart move: smaller houses like Bui’s have benefited from the new flexibility, as runway collections are clearly much more expensive to produce.

The springtime video of the collection featured a pair of lovers in a French country house looking for each other and seemingly wearing each other’s clothes – a good theme for a co-ed fashion show.

The use of light in the film matched the fluidity of a loose white tuxedo suit on a bare chest, or a giant multicolored foulard casually thrown over the male model’s bare shoulder. A cobalt blue one-shoulder piece was accentuated by the male model’s long bright red and androgenic nail polish.

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