STYLE

Vuitton splashes out for locomotive-bound 'Au revoir' to Paris fashion week

03/07/2012 05:01 EST | Updated 05/07/2012 05:12 EDT
PARIS - Louis Vuitton capped a Paris fashion week dripping with jewels, sequins and glamorous jet-setters by going back in time to one of the most fashionable ages of travel: The era of the Orient Express.

In a big-budget production, the house that made its name and built its early fortune with leather luggage wheeled out a steam-spewing locomotive on tracks at the Louvre Museum for its fall-winter show Wednesday.

Models descended from the life-size replica Orient Express dressed as bourgeois dames in tall Edwardian hats. Each was trailed by a valet carrying — naturellement — Louis Vuitton hat boxes, vanity cases, and petite valises in crocodile and embroidered sequins.

It took a moment for the spectators to focus on the clothes on the platform catwalk.

"It's just sumptuous, and what a spectacle," said French cinema icon Catherine Deneuve stepping onto the carriage after the show.

The signature bold patterns of Louis Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs travelled first-class alongside brocades and jacquards appliqued with laser-etched plastic stones. Adding to the time warp, big bejewelled buttons and curved lapels on three-quarter length coats harkened to 1960's fashion.

Long heavy fabrics in brown, black, siennas and purple plunged to bottom-heavy and layered silhouettes.

"We're imagining the romance of a better time," said Jacob speaking backstage. "Whatever you try, clothes never really live in the past. They are worn now so they are modern, with a modern take."

At which point Jacobs revealed he was wearing a knee-length black dress. "Oh, don't worry, I'm wearing boxer shorts underneath."

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ELIE SAAB

Among other shows Wednesday, glamour also filled the catwalk at Elie Saab's show of a collection brimming with both traffic-stopping, sequined dresses and clients to buy them.

A glitzy array of va-va-voom silhouette ended with statement evening dresses that are sure to turn up at the next big Hollywood party, but that's a theme from last season and the season before.

The slight variation this time was structure.

The peplum made a comeback in lean, more architectural daywear. A beautiful ash sheath with an armour-like, jutting waist perfectly balanced sex with the business look. It said: Admire, but don't touch.

Prints in grey and black also marked a change from the total-colour shock of the last ready-to-wear collection, with body skimming panels and cut-outs adding a dash of provocation to Saab's slightly modified winning formula.

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ALLUDE

There's only so much you can do with wool, even if it's cashmere. But Allude nevertheless managed to produce a tasteful, if repetitive, fall-winter collection Friday with some highly wearable clothes.

Now a signature, the German company's heavy cashmeres gave cardigans and sweaters in burgundy, russet and blue a weighty sweep in the first runway show.

Other, thinner knits added a sexy touch, silkily contouring the bust. Flashes like trapeze inserts kept the mood contemporary with a retro wink, as with cool, bulls-eye-patterned knits in blue and red.

One beanie hat that looked as if it could have been worn in the 1960s heyday of British model Twiggy was paired with a long cardigan that had the bohemian feel of the decade after.

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TALBOT RUNHOF

German design house Talbot Runhof visited the world of Charles Dickens' Miss Havisham on Wednesday, in a Paris ready-to-wear show that channelled green foliage — a nice touch for fall.

A top in silk mousseline embellished with leaves opened the show, depicting the overgrown garden of the character from the 19th-century Dickens novel who froze in time after she was left on her wedding day.

As expected from an English country garden, there were a lot of different textures ranging from an elegant-looking dress in fluid lame tweed, to sheer tops in crystal embroidered silk tulle.

Stretchy skintight pants in leaf-printed satin worked a treat but somewhat jarred with the style of the show — more like Poison Ivy from "Batman Forever" than anything else.

The best look of the shoulder-strong show was an iridescent gown capped with a flowing cape-like coat in emerald green. But there was a lack of cohesion in the overall look, making this feel more like an off-calendar show than one on the official Paris runway.

Paris fall-winter menswear shows run from June 27 to July 1, followed by haute coute collections from July 2 to July 5.

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