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Paris Fashion Week wrap-up

There was the gossip, and there were the clothes. Here are highlights from Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Chanel and Haider Ackermann.

March 13, 2011|By Booth Moore | Los Angeles Times Fashion Critic
  • Galliano's collection included a lacy pale green kimono coat with fur trim.
Galliano's collection included a lacy pale green kimono coat with… (Jonas Gustavsson and Peter…)

Reporting from Paris — — Designers behaving badly, official statements issued, endless speculation about replacements ... Is fashion the new Hollywood or what? At the second half of Paris Fashion Week, which ended Wednesday, the Twitterverse was still on fire with rumors about who will succeed John Galliano successor at Dior, why Balmain's Christophe Decarnin was AWOL and who is making Kate Middleton's wedding dress. In between, there was a lot of fine fashion. Here's some of it.

View all of Booth Moore's Parish Fashion Week coverage here.

Galliano without Galliano

There was a big crowd at the John Galliano label's presentation, held at a private mansion on Paris' chichi Avenue Foch, because there was a lot of curiosity, morbid and otherwise. The designer's career went down in flames during the last two weeks. He was dismissed from his post as creative director for Dior after he was arrested on suspicion of making anti-Semitic remarks to patrons at a Paris bar and a video surfaced documenting a separate incident.

He issued an apology, was charged by police under France's anti-Semitism laws and departed the country for rehab — all before Dior's formal runway show.

By the time the show for the designer's own label rolled around, everyone wanted to see the clothes, which were reportedly left for the house to finish in Galliano's absence.

The presentation was a lot more low-key and, frankly, more dignified, than Galliano's usual shows, which are often held at night in raw studio spaces on the outskirts of Paris. There was no dry ice or fake snow. There were no gimmicks at all, save for the trays of mini madeleines that waiters passed around.

During several mini-shows, held every 20 minutes or so, models walked slowly through the gilded rooms, striking poses for guests, who included press and buyers. There was a significantly smaller number of looks than usual, only about two dozen.

The format allowed for a close-up look at the clothes, including a stunning sheer black Deco beaded gown with feather trim and a pale green kimono coat with fur cuffs.

Pencil skirts, colorful print blouses with open backs and soft coats, one in a ribbed cream wool with a fur collar, had Galliano's signature 1930s-'40s flair. And there was at least one nod to his more subversive side — a black rubber trench coat.

With Dior as the majority shareholder in the John Galliano business, which has never performed well, the future of the label is uncertain. That is especially true this season, when stores may shy away from having the Galliano name on the racks.

The biggest shocker of all was that Dior exec Sidney Toledano attended the presentation — to support the staff, he said.

Alexander McQueen lives

During the Paris shows, word spread like wildfire that Sarah Burton, the creative director for Alexander McQueen, would be designing Kate Middleton's wedding dress. Burton's people emphatically denied it.

Which is too bad, because Burton would be an amazing choice, judging by the look of the snowy white dresses in her fall collection, inspired by an Ice Queen and her court.

The show was held at the Conciergerie, which was the antechamber to the guillotine during the French Revolution, holding thousands of prisoners, including Marie Antoinette. It was also the site of one of McQueen's most memorable shows several years ago, when live wolves walked the runway.

So it was suitably eerie. And from the first look — a white handwoven degrade tweed coat that dissolved into fur at the hems and shoulders — it was clear that the late designer, who committed suicide last year, was there in spirit.

Burton continued to play with tweed and checked velvets as the collection took a dark turn. Armor-like black dresses, traced in zippers, were fitted with elaborate harnesses and hardware evoking torture devices and worn with bondage boots. Coats cinched the waist, in woven and studded velvet.

Then, the fog lifted and out came angelic-looking gowns in fraying organza embroidered with pearls. One of the most extraordinary pieces had a bodice made from cracked pieces of bone china. And the finale gown, with its enormous tulle skirt, seemed to carry the model down the runway, as if on a cloud.

It was quite an impressive second collection for Burton, and a terrific prelude to the upcoming McQueen exhibition opening at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in May.

But mostly, when the snow queens rounded the runway to applause, it was nice to see a happy ending at the end of a very dark fairy tale.

At YSL, Stefano Pilati fires back

Dogged by rumors for months that he is on his way out at Yves Saint Laurent, Stefano Pilati showed a stellar collection that should quiet the naysayers — at least for now.

The clothes were wearable, but they also had attitude, beginning with pieces in Prince of Wales check, including a new, longer-length, double-breasted blazer, a baseball jacket with knit insets and skirts with flyaway pleats.

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