IN IMAGES: Versace sexes up catwalk with racy Paris show

Versace got Paris haute couture shows off to a hyper-sexy start with a procession of powerful femme fatales as the big gun designers hit the catwalk on Monday.

IN IMAGES: Versace sexes up catwalk with racy Paris show
Photo: AFP
Donatella Versace presented a series of revealing strappy dresses and short sporty Formula One-influenced combinations that dared women to get into the fast lane.
“I think women can be strong and capable of achieving their dreams while being beautiful and elegant,” the Italian designer said.
“It is a collection dedicated to all the women who follow their own path.”    
To prove her point, Versace used a number of older models, albeit with perfect gym-hewn bodies.
The Italian creator, who took over the reins of the high-glamour fashion house from her late brother Gianni, also created an eye-catching line of superhero inspired pieces which seemed to channel Spiderman and the fin-de-siecle decadence of artist Aubrey Beardsley’s drawings.
‘My body, my soul’
Her models powered down the catwalk late Sunday to a rap of “my body, my soul”, the defiant message being that I will wear what I want to make me feel good and in control.
The emphasis was on legs with short embroidered dresses and long ball robes cut away at the front to show off high-heeled pins.
This take-no-prisoners feminist sexiness came into its own in power suits and gowns with cut away sections tied together with stringy not-quite-bondage cords.
Albanian-born British pop star Rita Ora caused a stir when she turned up on the front row wearing an ultra-sexy orange version of one, while the American model Gigi Hadid also turned heads with a see-through dress, another feature of the collection.
Christian Dior, which has been leaderless since the shock departure of artistic director Raf Simons in October, pulled out all the stops to impress Monday, building a palace of mirrors in the garden of Paris’ Rodin museum.
While there was much to admire in its riffing on the classic fresh and feminine Dior look, with gorgeous wispy lace and delicate off-the-shoulder dresses with clusters of crystal embroidery, it was far from the unbridled fantasy of John Galliano’s time at the helm.
Dior’s ‘new realism’ 
Dior itself appeared to admit that its wild days were over, claiming its clients now prefer “to dress freely and without fuss” in what it called “couture’s new realism”.
Boss Sidney Toledano told AFP afterwards he was in no hurry to find a replacement for Simons, whose minimalist touch lingered on in the dreamy spring-summer range that many critics predicted would sell well.
“It’s not like presidential elections where they are deadlines,” he said.
The studio team which turned out the show in Simons’ absence was immensely talented, he insisted.
“We are doing well. I am proud of the spirit which exists in this house. It’s like a great orchestra with a lot of virtuosos.”
Schiaparelli had earlier pulled off perhaps the day’s most playful and unexpected show.
Designer Bertrand Guyon mixed food, fruit and kitchen prints with a large pinch of the Italian artist Piero Fornasetti’s surrealism to produce a collection that was good enough to eat.
Floor length sheath, empire line and fairytale dresses, often with ingenious tongue-in-cheek culinary detailing, alternated with knee-length skirts, pinafore dresses and jackets decorated with historic horticultural motifs.
Dice Kayek went for a much more sombre business-like collection, marked by grey and black jackets with trailing capes and long puffy sleeves.
French label On Aura Tout Vu — best known for the sparkling bolero jacket made for singer Madonna — produced the most otherworldly collection of the day with a flock of short black and white feathery dresses for fallen angels.
With its handmade pieces solely within the price range of the world’s richest women, haute couture exists only in Paris and is regarded as the pinnacle of fashion.
The designation is protected by French law and attributed exclusively by the ministry of industry to 14 houses whose clothes are tailored to each client.
Another 20 are regarded as “guest members” of the elite club.
All photos: AFP

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Paris exhibition celebrates 100 years of French Vogue

A new exhibition in Paris will tell the story of 100 years of French Vogue - from the post-war 'New Look' of Christian Dior through the sexual liberation of the 1960s to the dangling-cigarette waifs of the 2000s.

French Vogue celebrates 100 years
French Vogue celebrates 100 years. Photo: Thomas Olva/AFP

But as well as celebrating the magazine’s storied history, the exhibit comes at a time of turbulence for the publication.

Just last month, it was confirmed that its editor of 10 years, Emmanuelle Alt, was out and wouldn’t be replaced.

She was not alone.

Looking to cut costs, owner Conde Nast International has axed editors across Europe over the past year, and put international Vogue editions under the direct control of global editorial director, Anna Wintour, in New York.

New York-based Anna Wintour now has overall control of French Vogue. Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

Like much of the media industry, Vogue is struggling with tumbling sales and ad revenue in the digital era.

But the latest twist is also part of the endless push and pull between New York and Paris going back to its early days.

“The whole history of French Vogue is one of back-and-forth with Conde Nast in New York – growing more independent for a while, then being reined back in,” said Sylvie Lecallier, curator of the new exhibition, “Vogue Paris 1920-2020″, which opened this weekend after a year’s delay due to the pandemic.

The Paris edition was often the loftier, more bohemian sibling to its more hard-nosed New York version.

But it was also the hotbed in which much of 20th century style and womenhood came to be defined.

“Paris was the place to hunt out talent and content and bring it to New York,” said Lecallier.

The exhibition charts the evolution from art deco drawings of the 1920s through the erotic image-making of photographers like Helmut Newton in the 1960s and 1970s.

Its last peak was under editor Carine Roitfeld in the 2000s, who brought back a provocative Gallic identity by ridding the newsroom of foreign staff and becoming a fashion icon in her own right.

Her successor, Alt, was a quieter presence, though she still oversaw key moments including its first transgender cover star, Brazilian Valentina Sampaio, in 2017.

But internet culture has created “a perfect storm” for Vogue, says media expert Douglas McCabe of Enders Analysis.

“The first 80 years of Vogue’s life, it had the market to itself, it was the bible for fashion,” McCabe told AFP.

“But online today, there are so many other ways to get your information. Influencers, Instagram, YouTube — everyone’s a threat.”

In a world where new fashion trends can blow up around the world in seconds, it has become much harder for a monthly magazine to set the pace.

“It’s not that they can’t survive for another 100 years — but they will be differently sized,” McCabe said.

Vogue has tried to branch out into different areas, including events.

“I used to work for a magazine, and today I work for a brand,” Alt said on the eve of French Vogue’s 1,000th issue in 2019.

But the big money was always in print, and Vogue Paris sales are dropping steadily from 98,345 in 2017 to 81,962 to 2020, according to data site ACPM.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the new top job in Paris, redefined as “head of editorial content”, went to Eugenie Trochu, who was key to building the magazine’s online presence.

She declared herself “thrilled to be part of Vogue’s international transformation”.

For the curator of the exhibition, it is ironic timing.

“We had no idea it would end like this when we started work on the exhibition,” said Lecallier.

“Who knows where it will go from here.”

The exhibition Vogue Paris 1920-2020 is at the Palais Galliera in Paris’ 16th arrondissement. The gallery is open 10am to 6pm Tuesday to Sunday and is closed on Mondays. Tickets for the exhibition are €14 (€12 for concessions and under 18s go free) and must be reserved online in advance.