Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Paris Fashion Week Declares Slender Young Models Out Of Style!!
Inès de la Fressange, 53, who was Chanel's house model during the 1980s, will return to the Chanel catwalk on Tuesday, 21 years after parting ways with the Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld. The casting is significant because Lagerfeld has until now been unrepentant in his preference for the extremely slender, young models. Last year, Lagerfeld dismissed the "size zero" debate as the concern of "fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television".
Lagerfeld's decision adds weight to a growing trend towards celebration of a diverse vision of beauty at Paris fashion week. Lucy Yeomans, the editor of Harpers Bazaar magazine, welcomed the move, saying: "When the fashion is really excellent, it looks even better on older models, because they have more presence. The clothes take on personality, and that is a huge part of what fashion is about."
Last night, Jean Paul Gaultier opened and closed his show with Beth Ditto, the voluptuous Gossip frontwoman (above), who described the experience as "amazing and frightening". Her final lap of the catwalk, during which she sang an a cappella version of the Ike and Tina Turner song River Deep, Mountain High wearing a tulle-trimmed corset, fishnet tights and high heels, brought the house down.
But Alexandra Shulman, the editor of Vogue, believes that fashion needs to move on from "shock" casting. "Instead of a fuss being made about a few cause célèbre exceptions on the catwalk, what I'd really like instead is for most models to be a size 10 rather than a size eight," she said yesterday.
The catwalk roles for de la Fressange and Ditto follow a catwalk spot for plus-size supermodel Crystal Renn, who wore a black lace cocktail dress in Zac Posen's show on Friday. Balenciaga, the couture house now revived as a hugely influential label with a strong influence on the direction of fashion, showed its latest collection on a cross-section of veteran models, a pregnant actress, and seven non-models, including a dancer and an artist, who were selected by Nicolas Ghesquiere from a street-casting expedition in which his team toured the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia.
Inès de la Fressange is a creative consultant for the shoe label Roger Vivier, and last year beat Carla Bruni Sarkozy to the title of "most chic Frenchwoman" in a poll by the French newspaper Le Figaro. She fell out with Lagerfeld in 1989 after accepting an invitation to lend her likeness to a bust of Marianne, the symbol of the French republic, to be used on postage stamps. Lagerfeld was reported to have said at the time that Marianne represented "everything that is boring, bourgeois and provincial" and that he "did not dress historic monuments". During the spat, he said de la Fressange was "beautiful, but not photogenic" and that he was looking for "sexier models".
This weekend, however, Lagerfeld described de la Fressange as "beyond stunning". On Saturday night, de la Fressange attended the first screening of a film made by Karl Lagerfeld to mark a one-off capsule collection which he has designed for the classic Italian leather brand Hogan. By choosing to make a short film starring just two models, with plenty of lingering close-ups on the Karl Lagerfeld for Hogan handbags and boots, Lagerfeld struck another worrying blow against the career prospects of the young beauties he once hired by the dozen.
The success of the British designer Phoebe Philo, who returned to the fashion frontline in 2009 after taking a career break of nearly three years to spend time with her young children, has made her something of a heroine to her many female fans. At the helm of Céline, a brand owned by French giant LVMH which had been gathering dust at the edge of the fashion world, Philo has brought back a calm, practical take on fashion, refreshing after years in which the ideal of fashion as fantasy went unchallenged, and in doing so reaped phenomenal success. In her first season, the number of North American stockists for the brand increased from one to almost 40.
Yesterday's catwalk show in the Tennis Club de Paris was one of the week's hottest tickets, with the audience keen to see whether Philo would stick to her minimalist aesthetic from which most designers have this season jumped ship in favour of 1970s and 1980s references and bold colour. Her answer was to seamlessly move the needle to a more loose-limbed, fluid, colourful look in which the balance tipped judiciously away from the 1990s Helmut Lang shapes which she referenced last year and towards the North African-influenced Parisian elegance of chic Yves Saint Laurent silhouettes.
White, cream and sand dominated, and there were still pieces of almost monastic simplicity – lots of boat necklines and tunic shapes, and a long-sleeve navy jumpsuit with no visible seams or fastenings, for instance – but wide pyjama silk trousers were emblazoned with tuxedo stripes in emerald and cobalt, while a burgundy leather T-shirt was worn with electric blue trousers (left). To judge by the rapturous applause, Philo's radar for what women want to wear next was once again right on target.