Washington Life got an exclusive look at Paris Fashion Week 2010 that included top designers as well as up and coming designers.
By Stefanie Ball and Andrew Bullion
Think fast! You hear the words “Paris”, “haute couture”, and “Fashion Week”, and which designers come to mind? Chanel, Dior, Armani, Louis Vuitton, Jean Paul Gaultiere . . . megastar designers with megawatt worldwide media coverage. And at Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter Haute Couture 2010 all these were highly visible, and well-reported on as the media devoted thousands of page and many gigabytes of digital camera storage to fashion’s bold-face-names. Certainly these celebrities have earned their place in the sun. But let’s face it (sorry, sunscreen lobby!) everyone looks good with a tan, and in Paris this week there were many other exciting designers worthy of illumination.
One such emerging artiste is Eva Minge. Helping open Fashion Week with her elegantly edgy (and well-organized) Monday evening show at Hotel Regina, Minge took some calculated risks and easily proved that her attractive Fall/Winter collection cuts it in the spotlight. Starting and ending with variations on black evening wear, Minge’s collection mixed and matched supple with hard materials, and softly seductive with martial cuts, cascades of ruffles with sleek satin. And everywhere were accented waists, sheen, pleathery leather and ruffles, tone-on-tone accents.
Minge told Washington Life that her fall/winter 2010/2011 couture offering is a “clean, aesthetic collection with the latest trends, emphasizing the modern feminine silhouette; a structured image for a strong, successful woman who loves underlining her femininity with furs, fine wool and silk.” Continued Minge, “My wish was to create beautiful, mysterious and well-dressed women for the 21st century through the art of design.”
Minge, hailing from Poland, did not fail to provide beauty and mystery – and take some risks as well, both in cut and composition. In one piece, waist-to-floor puffed-out ruffles on one evening dress overweighted its minimal, clinging upper, risking the overall impression being a heavy bottom (not every woman’s fantasy look). Yet with a strategic cut out exposing dainty feet gave the piece an oddly pleasing asymmetrical proportionality. Somehow the boldness of Minge’s unapologetic execution displaced any skepticism. And most of her looks were sexily elegant, indeed very feminine and distinct; clearly those risks paid off for Minge.
Meanwhile the circus goes on. Outside Tuesday morning’s Armani Privé show at the swank Place Vendome, onlookers scrambledfrom the phalanx of photographers retreating before Anna Wintour’s march toward the entrance, where she paused within the velvet ropes only to sign autographs. Meanwhile, out front but basically ignored was an actual Armani Privé wedding gown-clad model offering even the uninvited a lucky sneak-preview of Armani’s amazing design and detail work. Sadly, even the many arriving fashionistas exiting their black Mercedes to stand just so, waiting to be photographed, had little time for the beautiful design only yards from them.
Really? Was that brilliant Armani wedding gown, when stripped of an exclusive runway production to frame it, really reduced to being . . . just a dress? Then perhaps a fuller appreciation for all that Paris Fashion Week has to offer can be gained by looking beyond the biggest names, introducing us to fresh and approaches, and renewed emphasis on fashion.
The off-the-beaten-path Adeline André show was by contrast an exhibit of clothing first, and show-biz last. Her design theme was built on the central conceit of suspension of multiple overlapping pieces, illustrating AA’s deftness with new construction ideas, and those of the collaborating members of her design house. Together they displayed their anticipation of renewed attention to structure, to an appreciative and cramped crowd.
Here certainly AA’s minimalist production, held on the second floor of an art gallery with fluorescent lighting and accompanied by a home stereo (which accidentally was switched off just as the show began, leaving the first two models to walk out to silence) kept the focus on the design concept. And in the presentation of their strange but strangely interesting multiple layer piece AA treated her audience to performance art as lab technician-clad attendants removed from the model each layer, to reveal a sheath dress as the piece’s base. While it is difficult today to impress or even mildly surprise in our savvy, information-saturated world, AA’s swing toward the layered structure is, while not a radical change, is still refreshing and even better can translate to interesting but wearable clothing for the rest of us.
When Karolina Kurkova strides out to open a fashion show, people notice – even those craning their necks to glimpse the front-row bold face names attending the Elie Saab show. And when Ms. Kurkova is wearing a scarlet Elie Saab dress, the effect is like a glass of champagne before an amazing meal; you somehow expect something special in each coming dish. And Mr. Saab’s meal did not disappoint, for what followed his opening piece was dress after dress, look after look, of amazingly consistent level of beauty, drama, and workmanship.
Mr. Saab’s smorgasbord of pieces was indeed a treat for the visual palate. In a beautiful and beautifully run show, full of some of fashion’s biggest names (and plentiful cameras, TV and otherwise, capturing their smiling images), he spun out 44 individual looks with much tone-on-tone intricate embroidery, jewelry, sequins, and combinations of these. One Elie Saab model remarked to Washington Life after the show that she found one jewelry-encrusted haute couture dress “a bit heavy to walk in, with the jewelry.” But when asked if she would get rid of the jewels instead, she demurred, “no way!” (And who said models aren’t smart?)