Fendi caps fashion week, going East in culture-hopping show

PARIS — Fendi’s ultra-white, sanitized runway for once put the couture, not the decor, in the spotlight to cap Paris fashion week on Thursday.

That allowed guests, including Bond star Lashana Lynch and Korean actress Song Hye-kyo, to take in every bead, paillette and spliced paneling that went behind this impressive fall display.

The Italian house’s designer Kim Jones wanted to “step away from Rome” with creations that drifted between different eras, cities, memories and cultures, beginning in Japan.

Haute couture is the age-old Parisian tradition of producing exorbitantly priced, made-to-measure garments for the world’s richest people.

Here are some highlights of the fall-winter 2022 collections on Thursday, that featured several up-and-coming brands:

Fendi’s Kyoto“We are looking at fragments of different cities, namely Kyoto, Paris and Rome,” said Jones. “The fragmentary nature of things is echoed throughout … like snatches of memory.”

Jones went back in time, and back to the atelier, in a show that revamped old-school artisanal techniques — with aplomb.

Kimono fabric from 18th century Kyoto — with beautiful patterning — was cut up into strips and shards to construct one abstract gown in gray and beige with a clean white sporty collar. Like many looks in this collection, it also had a futuristic feel.

A sprinkling of sheer tulle gowns with Japanese maple leaves were the exception that proved the rule in this overall tasteful collection, which used humor and design quirks to keep energy levels up.

The shimmering floor-length gowns were the high in terms of creativity, aesthetics and fun. One dazzling floor-sweeping, silver tectonic panel dress sported another dress hanging from its back, incredibly, sweeping the floor a second time.

The art of the invitationThe age of email and rising environmental awareness hasn’t made much of a mark on the fashion industry’s invitation code.

Season after season, gasoline-guzzling couriers crisscross Paris to personally deliver elaborate, often handmade, show invites, as top houses vie for the wackiest or most imaginative idea.

Olivier Rousteing’s invitation for his one-off Jean Paul Gaultier couture featured a one-meter (yard) black branded diagonal ribbon wrapping a card. It was held in place by a white couture pin. Sure enough, in Wednesday’s energetic display — the wrapped diagonal ribbons featured on a runway look in life-size.

For Fendi, a hollow white architectural arch revealed the house logo through its window. While Schiaparelli’s featured an atelier sketch of a woman adorned in flowers with a wide-brimmed hat and gold bracelet — styles that defined Daniel Roseberry’s fall collection aesthetic.

Yuima Nakazato goes blueA contemplative set — worthy of a staged play — awaited guests at Japanese couture up-and-comer Yuima Nakazato’s fall display.

It was entitled “BLUE.” That was the color of gargantuan fabric boulders in the set, strewn across the stage-cum-runway that set the tone of contemplation, peace and harmony — which filtered down into the couture.

There was also more than a whiff of a distant Star Trek planet in the abstract blue blobs that models walked by. Indeed, Nakazato’s work revolves around technology, and the house says he uses non-gendered creations to “explore the future of clothing.”

Long flowing silk forms, tied at the waist or cross-over, riffed gently on Asian dress styles. But there was an otherworldliness in their sheer whiteness and in the softness of the silhouette. So diaphanous was the silk on one pair of billowing white sleeves that the model’s steps alone caused it to float in the air weightlessly.

Colorful abstract shapes — like giant gleaming brooches — were placed at the waist or neck of several looks, in blue, violet and gold like a sea-creature or some beautiful alien lifeform that had come along for the ride.

Julie de Libran drips in coutureMonths after opening her first Paris boutique, another up-and-comer, Julie de Libran, was in an eclectic mood. Fall was a chic display with lots of sparkle and a bit of everything.

Set in a leafy patio garden with sweet-scented jasmine blossoming at one side, the collection conveyed an intimate feel.

Indeed intimacy and the personal touch are hallmarks of the designer, who since launching her house in 2019 has hosted clients and reporters in her Left Bank house for shows and fittings.

This hands-on approach is increasingly rare but encapsulates the beating heart of couture, the luxurious art of made-to-measure gowns.

On Thursday, the show provided many gentle contradictions.

A square-shaped gold embroidered jacket had a feel of 1930s Hollywood glamour, worn above a silver mesh ribbon collar style that could have been worn by the New Romantics of the 1980s.

One cap-sleeved column dress was sublimely simple with multicolored textured paillettes and embroidery. Another vintage look — with a chainmail neck clasp — dripped fabulously under the weight of its beading that cascaded in feathered wisps.

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