2012 July 2
Paris Couture: Versace, Dior, Alexis Mabille
FirstView View Gallery
What better way to kick off couture week than with Pierce Brosnan, a disco party, and a troupe of leggy mods swathed in head-to-toe pastels? On Sunday eve, Donatella Versace returned to Gianni's infamous stomping grounds, the Ritz Hotel Paris, for the first time since his final couture show circa 1997. The result? A star-studded (and slightly emotional) homecoming avec Jessica Alba, Lea Michele, Mad Men's Christina Hendricks, Milla Jovovich, and Dita Von Teese in tow. On the runway, corseted, structured minis balanced floating chiffon and silk dresses slit up to there and floor-sweeping gowns glittering with caviar crystals, spliced with woven leather or PVC, or patterned with a playful tarot motif. A perfect backdrop for the inaugural debut of Atelier Accessories, a custom lineup of 16 rings featuring yellow diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, amethysts, and aquamarines. In sum: Versace to the umpteenth degree, darlings. Apres the haute spectacle, the A-listers grabbed din at L'Espadon with Donatella and shimmied the night away with a live performance from M.I.A. Now that's how you get the party started.
A healthy dose of the Dior archive, done in fresh, sharply pared-down shapes for fully modern wear, was all the evidence we need of a successful couture foray for Raf Simons at the venerable Parisian label. Waists got an almost-uniform wash of cinching—sometimes with cleanly femme bralette boning details—and bodices erring on the side of the slim, strapless, and often slightly exaggerated for a quietly dramatic effect. Blurry, blotted watercolor patterning took shape in a lovely charcoal and lilac-tinged cocoon topper, and was in fine frock form in the aforementioned strapless silhouette as well. Black separates provided a daytime-apropos foundation for the rest of the spangled, floral-splashed, or lipstick-hued collection (ranging from a siren-ready shade of rouge to that parfait flash of fuchsia). To wit: a peplumed strapless, hip-grazing top with cropped, cuffed skinnies below. Later on, a series of dark, gauzily-hemmed dresses—modern in their paring with pants will be step-and-repeating with gusto for the LBD-preferring tapis rouge crowd, while brides eager to getting hitched in Dior will do well with Simons’ tea-length series of icy dazzlers alternated with unfussy exercises in pretty of the vivid red, ornately beaded shifts, or a field of lushly (yet monochromatically) slate-hued flora. Bravo!
Slim, turtleneck-topped silhouettes opened up Mabille’s latest, rife with mesh panels that dovetailed with centered strands of pearls edging subtly sassy center slits. Bows were a highlight, whether at the nape of the neck on an asymmetrical metallic frock, on noir or champagne-hued kicks, and, in a fit of bow-mania, one black frock was a cutout-splashed slew of tethered forearms, biceps, and belly button. Velvet abounded, to the delight of those in perpetual lust with the plush fabric, and some iterations got edged in frilly white tulle. Gowns in glowing, ruched shades of metallic were a little futuristic in lieu of the flashy, splashy effect that often accompanies shiny bright things sashaying down the runway, while caped, billowy cream frocks and columns of lace offered a mellower counterpart. Meanwhile, undulating, curved asymmetrical detailing traced the clavicles and midriff, a la Stella McCartney’s Spring 2012--not imitation, but a like-minded riff on slightly space age-y, body-con sexiness where the details trump a peek of skin. On the coiffed front, it was as if Pippi Longstocking’s chic, metallic-and-rouge-lip-loving older sis got ahold of some bejeweled hair adornments and went to town on a series of exceptionally pert single braids. Equally as playful, and perhaps merely enjoyable for the theatrical value: twin poufs of gradated blue tulle burying the shoulders of the third look, like a cotton candy-topped cape. Forget Candy Land: welcome back to the fantasies of Coutureland.