Vuitton transforms Paris with a playful spectacle of color, stars and history

PARIS (AP) — It was more than just another fashion show in the City of Light. Louis Vuitton’s latest extravaganza on Paris’ most famous street, the Champs-Elysées, transformed an iconic 19th-century art nouveau space into an evolving artwork. As guests entered, they encountered an ephemeral installation — a vast, expanding balloon structure that melded with the walls. But as avant-garde as it was, the installation’s plastic, coupled with an autumnal heat wave, had some attendees likening it to a fashionable, yet sweltering, greenhouse.

The designs? A riot of colors, ludic patterns, and subtle riffs on harlequins. A visual feast that kept the eyes and iPhones flitting from one ensemble to the next.

Yet the decor and fashion might have met their match in star power. The luminaries of Hollywood — Zendaya, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany, Jaden Smith, and a host of others — converged, turning the venue into a veritable galaxy of celebrities. The heat outside mirrored the fervor inside, as Vuitton proved, once again, that in the world of fashion, it’s an unstoppable force.

Here are some highlights of Monday’s shows, including an interview with Stella McCartney:

A VUITTON VIGNETTE: WHEN PAST CLASHES WITH FUTURE

In a surreal wash of orange, Louis Vuitton’s showcase, under the deft hand of women’s creative director Nicolas Ghesquière, was a blend of epochs and emotions.

A burst of color, channeling the vibrancy of harlequins, took center stage. The striped high-waisted trousers and billowing yellow silk sleeves paid tribute to days of yore, while modern ski goggles reminded everyone of Ghesquière’s ever-present innovation.

The ’70s too had their moment. Striped shirts with open cuffs, reminiscent of this era, fused the delicate and free-spirited vibe against the hard, resolute feel of a box camera styled as a necklace. This distinct contrast — the soft meets the hard — exemplified Ghesquière’s talent for marrying contrasts.

Subtle nods, perhaps to stalwarts like Armani Privé couture, could be spotted, but the collection was unmistakably Vuitton. The embrace of a glossy black bodice contrasted with the airy freedom of a voluminous white skirt. Similarly, a gleaming miniskirt seemed to mix between rigidity and flow.

Yet, Ghesquière’s vibrancy sometimes edged toward the theatrical, seemingly sacrificing subtlety for statement. While his craftsmanship is undeniable, the balance between drama and understatement remains a tightrope he navigates.

All told, Ghesquière’s latest offering is a testament to skill in stitching together the past with the present.

ACTIVISTS TARGET LOUIS VUITTON DURING PARIS FASHION WEEK

Just before Louis Vuitton’s anticipated show, environmental activists from “Dernière Rénovation” sprayed the brand’s Champs-Elysées storefront with orange paint. Their aim? According to social media, to challenge the luxury brands of Paris Fashion Week and the wealthy attending the specific event. The activists’ shirts, bearing the message “their selfishness kills,” spoke to their cause. Amid this disruption, influencer Jeremstar protested for animal rights, only to be restrained by police. Despite these disturbances, the Vuitton event went ahead and the brand has not issued a response.

MARKETPLACE MAGIC: STELLA’S SUSTAINABLE SPRING SPLENDOR

It’s not every Monday that you’d see Robert Downey Jr., “Emily in Paris” starlet Ashley Park, and spotless fashion mogul Anna Wintour browsing a market. But then again, the Marché Saxe-Breteuil wasn’t just any market this week – it was Stella McCartney’s sustainability showcase, an ingenious stage for her Spring 2024 eco-collection.

The makeshift stalls were far from ordinary. One, a nod to her late mother, famed vegan advocate Linda McCartney, presented vegan marvels. Another proudly showcased the real seaweed – yes, seaweed – that went into crafting a striking 70s macrame dress. Inspired by her parents’ touring days, vintage Wings merch graphics found their way onto organic T-shirts. Guests basked in the October sun, sipping in the atmosphere as much as they did the sights.

This season’s McCartney designs? Think 70s eclectic thrift shop but make it chic. An ageless quality permeated, drawing inspiration not just from Stella’s design vault, but from the idea of borrowing the clothes of her iconic parents as a kid. It made for a sweet and loving fashion ode.

McCartney gave us sheeny shirts with historic white cape sleeves, neatly paired with shimmering crystal hot pants — lead-free, of course. An oversized floral print on a draped toga dress seemed to capture the Beatles’ psychedelic era, almost transporting wearers to London’s Camden vintage shops.

The nostalgia was evident, but so was the sustainability narrative. Stella’s Sustainable Market showcased her dedication to innovative materials, complemented by English sculptor Andrew Logan’s artistry. McCartney’s show wasn’t just a fashion statement; it was a manifesto of where the future might head.

FROM SEAWEED TO RUNWAY: STELLA MCCARTNEY CHARTS A GREEN COURSE

“This season is 95% sustainable,” McCartney declared proudly by a faux market stand, marking her highest ever sustainability percentage on the runway.

Drawing inspiration from a personal vault, she said, “A lot of it was, I was looking at my mom and dad’s wardrobe.” This deep dive into her familial past wasn’t just a nostalgia trip. “Now my daughter steals from me,” McCartney noticed, highlighting the cyclical nature of fashion and how traditions ripple through generations.

But the showstopper? Seaweed. A groundbreaking fabric debut, as McCartney explained: “Seaweed … So it’s insane. It’s the first ever time it’s been on a runway.” This seaweed innovation, crafted from the ocean’s kelp, morphed into a yarn that’s “100% pesticide-free, 100% no land use and 70% more sustainable than any cotton.”

Tongue firmly in cheek, McCartney dubbed the color of the season as “Green,” quickly clarifying, “There’s no green on a runway, but as an eco green.”

The show was more than garments on display; it was an education. With McCartney’s innovative sustainable market segment, attendees got a closer look at revolutionary materials, from wine waste – courtesy of fellow LVMH brand Veuve Clicquot — to chic bags and, of course, seaweed making a sartorial splash.