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Naomi Campbell at Balmain; shaggy coats at Dries Van Noten, Paris.

Photo-AFP

During Paris Fashion Week, Balmain's show concluded with supermodel Naomi Campbell gracing the runway, marking a significant moment for the brand under the creative direction of Olivier Rousteing. The collection, inspired by the lush landscapes of Bordeaux and the green thumb of the house's founder, Pierre Balmain, seamlessly blended elements of nature with Balmain's signature bold aesthetics. Rousteing's designs featured intricate grape motifs, from embroidered garments to whimsical snail buttons, paying homage to his upbringing while infusing a touch of provincial charm onto the Paris runway. Vibrant grape embroideries punctuated the palette of khaki and black, nodding to the '80s era with a burst of colour and humour, evoking memories of hometown markets and infusing the collection with levity. Notably, the show embraced diversity by casting models of all ages to showcase the 56 designs, reflecting Balmain's commitment to inclusivity.

Meanwhile, Belgian designer Dries Van Noten captivated audiences with a collection that seamlessly blended history, tension, and elegance. Van Noten's masterful craftsmanship was evident in each look, as he expertly navigated between different eras and styles. The show opened with a display of grandeur juxtaposed with contemporary elements, setting the tone for a visual feast of illusions and contrasts. Van Noten's innovative play on perspective challenged viewers' gazes, while dynamic textures and colours created a poetic energy synonymous with the designer's aesthetic. From the almost two-dimensional sleeves to the animated sweaters, the collection showcased Van Noten's unique ability to infuse modernity into timeless elegance.

In the digital era, the tradition of fashion invitations remains cherished by top fashion houses, serving as creative preludes to the spectacle of runway shows. Despite the shift towards digital communication, brands like Loewe, Chloe, Rick Owens, and Yohji Yamamoto continue to craft imaginative invitations that hint at the theme of their collections. These unique pieces of art underscore the fashion industry's appreciation for tradition and personal touch in an increasingly virtual world, despite ecological concerns.

Lastly, Courreges' latest collection by Nicolas di Felice offered a saleable display of futurism, blending Andre Courreges' space-age legacy with elements of '90s nostalgia. The minimalist utilitarian details, paired with geometric panelling and pale body panels, created a cool, low-energy sophistication reminiscent of intergalactic adventures. '90s influences were palpable throughout the collection, from the layering of skirts over pants to the chub coat that exuded the enigmatic allure of underwater scuba wear. Di Felice's contemporary reinterpretation of Courreges' founding vision showcased his innovative approach to design, offering a fresh narrative on form and space while staying true to the brand's heritage.

March 1, 2024 2:42 p.m. 11171

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