Jolts and unexpected turns hit Paris' catwalks

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Associated Press

Posted on September 26, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 26 at 9:00 PM

PARIS (AP) — Jolts and unexpected turns marked the third day of Paris' spring-summer 2014 shows -- though some were intentional, others were not.

First, there were designer Rick Owens' unconventional models. The unrelenting fashion showman threw tradition to the wind and flew in a troupe of nearly all-black college students from the U.S. to model his ready-to-wear clothes Thursday.

With curvy bodies and wild hair the 40 energetic students modeled the looks by dance, moving in a style that crossed rapper Missy Elliott's moves with those of pom-pom bearing cheerleaders. Gone were the 6-foot (2-meter) blond and usually white beauties who fashion insiders expect to parade down the podium. Nonetheless, it had one normally sober English fashion editor nodding head and tapping his foot to the beat. Spring is, after all, a season for change.

The biggest shock of the day came at the otherwise calm and gentle Nina Ricci show, when two topless activists from feminist group Femen crashed the podium. Grabbing a startled model making her way down the catwalk, they screamed "fashion fascism," with words decrying the sexualization of the modeling industry written in make-up across their naked torsos.

The rest of the day seemed quite mute in comparison, with Balmain continuing its opulent ornamentation, Barbara Bui revamping denim and Lanvin's ode to liquid glamor.

RICK OWENS

It was young, gifted and black all the way during Rick Owens' spirited and derailed presentation.

Young student-models appeared as if out of the heavens from a door at the top of a 50-foot (10-meter) metal scaffold.

They glared at the front row with angry expressions, producing an energy in the room that even topped Owens' last show, which featured live, swinging acrobats.

There was one down side: The speed of the spectacle, and the fact that some of the models didn't quite fit into the clothes made it hard to judge the collection clearly.

Still, there were certainly some interesting looks among the creations, which were divided into monochrome black, beige, gray and white sections.

The black looks, which featured sporty zippers and tight, structured leather paneling on tops, had some great details. One was a skirt made of baubles below a swirling, 3-D fabric panel.

The white section, too, with loose clean panels of fabric, had a sporty and futuristic vibe that matched the surreally oversized Adidas pumps.

The other ensembles, with beige nun-like fabric head-pieces and toga-styles, didn't fare as well.

LANVIN

As if licked by a divine sheen, Alber Elbaz's shimmering collection for Lanvin seemed to ooze liquid metal.

Opening with a sensual ultramarine knee-length satin skirt and a top sporting the word "dream," the 48-look-strong collection had a hazy, ephemeral quality that was as hard to pin down as it was beautiful.

There is always a vintage quality to Lanvin's shows — here it's thanks to dull shine materials used in most of the looks, rendered in the subtle hues of ruddy bronze, golden yellow and dark gray.

It's Elbaz's nostalgia-laden interpretation of the metallics craze that's hit catwalks this season.

But the show remained light.

Bows at the hip, heel and neck combined with recurring stars and love-hearts to give a girly lift.

Some ensembles, like a knee-length pleated green sparkling skirt, cream blouse and long dark gray jacket eluded definition and were just plain delightful.

If this spring-summer collection didn't feel very summery — it's one of the darkest shows seen this week — the amount of reflective fabric, satin and lame used in the show is sure to light up even the darkest corner of a room.

BALMAIN

Balmain's collection could have done with a softer touch.

Designer Olivier Rousteing continued with his luxuriant explorations with sumptuous thick fabrics, gold ornamentation and blown up patterning.

But the overall coherence in this for spring-summer presentation fell short of his normally stellar standard -- a standard which has seen the age-old house revamped under his creative tenure.

The looks in which the silhouette was neat and the checkered or houndstooth patterns delivered in softer tones worked stylishly. One soft blue mini dress with a crisscross metallic chain skirt worked to perfection thanks to the large houndstooth pattern being tamed by the look's tight silhouette.

Elsewhere, however, a visual cacophony was produced in some ensembles by the heavy ornamentation, thick quilted fabrics, and patterning with divergent lines that ended up feeling busy on the less structured silhouettes.

The show had some great moments, but less would certainly have been more.

NINA RICCI

Though Nina Ricci's safe spring-summer show broke no molds, there were some subtle surprises.

The ultra-feminine display from designer Peter Copping in sheer whites and pale blues -- and a great, bright peacock blue - drew its inspiration in historic tailoring for men.

The back column of a waistcoat was to be found placed on the front of a pale striped, fitted jacket.

Elsewhere, 18th century men's riding coats appeared as a great sequined tweed number in a shimmering feminine beige.

A nice detail was the reinvention of the classic men's shirt, transformed in various looks into a dress or skirt. However, the clever effect was somewhat lost since the chosen white hue made detail hard to see.

A bit of color never hurt anyone.

BARBARA BUI

Is there such as thing as denim rock couture? Barbara Bui seems to think so, with the French-Vietnamese designer offering collection high-wasted pants, oversize strong shouldered jackets and lots and lots of blue denim. There were plenty of hits but also some misses.

The cleaner of the 37 looks worked well -- with denim-effect micro shorts pairing with a T-shirt with oversize sleeves to create a nice imbalance. Elsewhere, pleated menswear 1970s trousers were subverted nicely with a sporty, and in-vogue ultra-mini crop top. Menswear Oxford shoes - in a sporty white and with silver bands -- continued this subversion.

The message got lost in the busy, shredded denim detailing, however, which didn't feel very luxurious and could well have been seen on the high-street.

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Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

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