Paris Fashion Week spans minimalism and Renaissance blooms

PARIS (AP) — The dull Paris weather did not dim the power of the French capital’s ready-to-wear shows continued Saturday, vibrantly spanning the restrained colors of minimalism to Renaissance exuberance.

Meanwhile, stars paid tribute to Vivienne Westwood at the house’s first Paris show since the British fashion icon's death in December.

Here are some highlights of Paris Fashion Week fall-winter 2023-2024 collections:

ELIE SAAB SAYS IT WITH FLOWERS

Singers Ciara and Avril Lavigne negotiated crowds and slippery stone steps to get to the Palais de Tokyo, the venue for Elie Saab's show. Inside, the Lebanese designer presented an ode to the bouquets of the Renaissance, with flowers blooming from every nook, cranny, seam and hem.

Tailored looks featured blossoming hydrangea embroidery above flared 1970s-style pants, as well as brooding dark prints in ruby and flashes of dazzling citrine.

The collection crescendoed passionately into the evening with Saab’s bread-and-butter va-va-voom silhouettes. Sheer mermaid gowns and dresses with sinuous three-dimensional florets glimmered with paillettes and tulle.

The best looks were figurative, such as a Asiatic pleated cummerbund that fanned out dramatically like opening petals.

STARS PAY TRIBUTE TO VIVIENNE WESTWOOD Saturday saw the first Paris show for Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood since the British fashion icon died in December, aged 81 – attracting the great and the good of the industry. (Kronthaler is Westwood’s widower and for years has been her fashion house’s creative heir.)

Speaking to Associated Press, front row guest Jared Leto called her death “heartbreaking,” saying that he was inspired by her spirit as a kid. “She was such a maverick and an iconoclast -- in the best sense of those words.” The actor and musician added: “Anybody that’s ever put a safety pin in a shirt owes her a debt for encouraging us to think differently!”

Jean Paul Gaultier called her “the queen of English fashion.” “What she is, she put it in the clothes -- and you could see her. You could see her impertinence, her rebellion and her way of playing with the structure of the clothes.” He added “I truly love her.”

Georgia May Jagger, model and daughter of rock legend Mick Jagger, called Westwood “a revolutionary.” Jagger also noted the British designer’s activism: “She made her fight for climate change at the forefront of her fashion. She’s a complete intellectual, someone that read a lot... that really educated everyone around her.”

HERMES’ FASHION AS CAMOUFLAGE

Hermes creative director Nadege Vanhee-Cybulski made a simple, but powerful, proposition for fall – creating each look in the same shade of color so it seemed to melt into itself, like camouflage.

“Just as a second skin exists beneath the surface of a tree, a bark like fabric, there is a dialogue constantly taking shape between materials, between colors, between details,” the fashion house said, poetically.

The one-color concept created a minimalist feeling even when the looks featured layering and details, such as long duffel-style coats in double-sided cashmere, zip-up coats in shiny lambskin, embroidery, belts, buckles and straps.

The first look, a loose textured double skirt dress, came in cognac red. It sported a hat reminiscent of equestrians styles – unsurprising given the house’s close association with show jumping.

The monochromatic musing continued throughout amid textural tensions – such as one sheeny red silk pleated skirt that contrasted chicly with the accompanying long suede boots.

COPERNI’S CANINE TALE

How to match Bella Hadid's spray-on dress that became an instant viral hit last season and raised the brand profile?

Coperni designers Sebastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant went to the canine world for help — that is, the curious world of robo-dogs. Five Boston Dynamics cyber dogs each called Spot were the stars of the show, posing in various yoga positions for the Instagram-friendly snaps fashion insiders relish.

The tech and canine theme continued in the designs, which were predominantly made from recycled materials and were inspired by versions of “The Wolf and the Lamb," a famous French fable.

The tale was retold as paintings on leather jackets. Sheaths were slashed as if clawed by a predator. Enveloping shawls were a take on “Little Red Riding Hood.” Fabulous feathered mini dresses looked like the wolf had raided the chicken pen.

A shaggy floor-length coat looked like the wolf had been skinned and given the Cruella de Vil treatment.

JAPAN’S FASHION FORWARD HEIR

Junya Watanabe, the protege of Comme des Garcons designer Rei Kawakubo, was in fine fashion forward form Saturday, continuing with his often-referenced theme of “Monozukuri.” It means “making of things” in Japanese and has now come to mean innovations in fashion production and using technology to make materials.

For fall, the talented Japanese designer went full-on utilitarian for a dark and aggressive display that used toggles, armor-like padded coats, ninja mouth coverings and black head gear that evoked the garb of combative sports such as fencing.

Braided hair was wrapped around the head and face like protection for a dramatic effect on the mistily lit runway.

Flashes of swirling color, including neon blue, nicely fused the themes of cycling and combat, while structured black leather coats with eyelets, straps, buckles and zippers merged biker gear with traditional Asian dress.

Thomas Adamson, The Associated Press