Fashion Parties With the French President

In a room full of designers from all over — many of whom had indeed made Paris their adopted city — it struck a chord. But then, it’s been a strikingly diverse season, in terms of both the model lineup, which seems to have genuinely become more variegated, and the clothes. Change is on everyone’s mind: good, bad, what have you. You could see it on the catwalks that sandwiched the evening.

You could see it, for example, on the afternoon before the dinner at Giambattista Valli, king of the high/low party dress, who opened his show not with a flirt of chiffon but with a dark denim boiler suit, and then interspersed among the floral frippery and sequined minidresses some 1970s leathers, mini knit vests and long, narrow traveling coats. It’s a promising direction: Here’s hoping he does more of it, and that he has the courage to leave some of the ruffles behind.


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Alexander McQueen: Fall 2018

CreditRegis Colin Berthelier/Nowfashion




You could see it at Alexander McQueen, where Sarah Burton (who went almost straight from her catwalk bow to her place at the table close to Mr. Macron) took the idea of metamorphosis, of emerging from the chrysalis, both literally and elegantly.

Tuxedo suits emerged from the exploded bindings of red leather corsetry. Silk dresses and coats were marked by monarch prints. A quilted green leather parka had a collar that folded down to frame the neck, like the upper wings of a butterfly; zippers undone at the waist dropped the coat’s skirt, suggesting the lower parts. Elaborately embroidered iridescent jeweled scarabs covered the body of a sheer tulle dress. Floor-length silk fringe created a motile surface on capes and gowns, ever adrift in the wind. A pink taffeta minidress sprouted two enormous ruffs at the shoulders. They looked as though they were about to start flapping and fly away.


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Chanel: Fall 2018

CreditRegis Colin Berthelier/Nowfashion




And you could see it Chanel, held the morning after the dinner, though Mr. Lagerfeld had a more somber transition on the mind. Specifically a seasonal transition, a once-upon-a-time thing that seems almost shrouded in myth these days. So he took his audience, and his collection, into the woods in his usual way. The floor of the Grand Palais was strewn with browning, fallen leaves and tufts of moss, and surrounded by walls papered with pictures of a bare-limbed forest. The slightly sweet, cloying fragrance of rotting foliage hung in the air.

In the middle, a row of lone oaks stood, dwarfing the models as they appeared, striding in flat shoes and boots mottled in gold and bronze leaf. Their twiglike silhouettes were drawn by long, lean skirts and short boxy jackets, or tunics with unstructured peplums at the hips over straight knee-length skirts. The colors — in soft knits and tufted furs and tweed bouclés and one Matisse-like leaf print — faded into the ground like natural camouflage. At the end, a series of lacy dresses under Chanelized puffer jackets looked so delicate they could crumble at a touch, as if to remind everyone that change marks not only a beginning, but an ending.

Not that anyone was really thinking like that at the Élysée, where Mr. Macron happily took selfies as requested and where the dinner was buffet, so everyone was forced to mill around and mix and not stand on protocol. And where, in perhaps the most unexpected fashion moment of the night, Stella McCartney Facetimed her father, Paul McCartney, so he could speak to Mr. Macron, and everyone converged, in a fit of fandom for both, around her phone.

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