PARIS: A giant, glowing crystal rock upon a sand-colored carpet evoked a glamorous alien planet for Hermes’ champagne-sipping VIP guests.
Earthen hues like browns, reds and yellows -- colors long-associated with the heritage brand -- were used at Saturday’s show to create Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski’s utilitarian, low-key yet luxuriant universe for spring.
Elsewhere, Ukraine’s top fashion designers used the platform of Paris Fashion Week to promote their war-battered industry.
Here are some highlights of the day’s spring-summer 2023 collections in Paris:
HERMES’ SUBTLE STRINGS
It was a Vanhee-Cybulski minimalist take on the 80s.
The lone pulsating crystal that glowed color from the center of the runway established the collection’s key idea: Simplicity is powerful.
As the show took off, the odd utilitarian features -- such as toggles and the strange, perplexing box platform shoes that stomped throughout -- were used with subtlety but aplomb.
It gave a sporty and outer-space feel to the collection’s stylish, almost empty, restraint -- a mood that now defines the talented 44-year-old French designer’s repertoire.
Tan suede tunic minidresses sported beautiful, braided leather hems -- showcased without jewelry on a makeup-less model. While, exposed midriffs latticed with cords and toggles came on otherwise unfussy slim silhouettes.
UKRAINE’S “GOOD SIX” DESIGNERS SHOW UNITED FRONT
Last season in Paris, the Ukrainian designers trade fair event took place just two days before Russia’s invasion amid stories of some artists fleeing the country so rapidly they had only their children and their collection in hand.
This season sees no improvement back home for the industry: It’s been battered by increased financial strains as designers try hard to maintain employed staff despite little money, a decrease in demand and ravished supply chains.
A collective of these designer-survivors is showing in Paris beginning Saturday until Oct.6.
Jen Sidary, the collective’s head, said “in my 30 years of working in the fashion industry, I have never witnessed the resilience of a country and its people as they began to focus on keeping their businesses alive, days into the war, from bomb shelters to designing new collections amidst constant air raid sirens.”
The six making up the Paris Fashion Week event -- Frolov, Kachorovska, Chereshnivska, Litkovska, My Sleeping Gypsy and Oliz -- are showcasing unisex apparel, footwear and scarves. It’s a bid to keep their ravaged industry alive, and form of resistance against the Russian bombs decimating their homeland.
Many of their colleagues back home in Ukraine have had to repurpose their operations to help the war effort, relocating within the country, according to Sidary.
The courage of the Ukraine fashion industry has drawn international attention.
USAID Project Manager Natalia Petrova spoke of the “remarkable resilience, commitment and awareness” of Ukrainian businesses since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Disruptions on the domestic market caused by decrease in demand by population and broken supply chains, are pushing companies to explore export opportunities to diversify their sales,” she added.
ANDREAS KRONTHALER FOR VIVIENNE WESTWOOD
Kink mated with art in the typically quirky fare from Kronthaler -- a staple show where a fashion surprise is all but expected.
With his usual encyclopedic flair, Kronthaler wove an aesthetic from yesteryear -- medieval and renaissance nobles and peasants — into his drape-heavy silhouettes. Guests almost felt like they were at the theater.
Juliette sleeves mixed with black Renaissance tarbuds, decorated collars and even one wacky but stylish blue loose tuxedo look that could have been worn by the Bard himself. Of course, Kronthaler accessorized it anachronistically with pale blue striped rugby socks. Added to the creative cauldron were chunky Glam Rock boots and a Highlands kilt style with white trimming at the male model’s nether regions, making it look like they might have gotten a front bite.
The opening image of Irina Shayk, often voted among the most beautiful models in the world, in a shiny black bustier and silver-ring earrings riffing off S&M will surely be one picture few quickly forget.
ELIE SAAB REVISITS THE ’60s
The late 1960s got a facelift on Saturday in a collection that featured babydoll dresses, miniskirts, psychedelia, crop-tops and jabot collars -- but never lost that floaty, contemporary Saab touch.
The first look from Saab at his Paris fashion show fused a 1960s angelic-white crop top and a maxi skirt with an ethnic look, thanks to a construction of interlocking motifs. This fusion of different eras continued throughout the show, which sent out 68 items.
Lace detailing was a big theme and became the front of a baggy pale tracksuit top. In an anachronism that defined this Saab spring aesthetic, it was worn alongside a sheer 1990s’ tulle skirt. It had a great swag and could have very well been seen at a music festival in that decade.
Flashes of Barbie pink and citrus contrasted with psychedelic stripes on column silhouettes, sometimes making it feel like Saab was trying to put too much in the mix. The collection was ultimately hard to pin down.
AKRIS TURNS 100
The art-infused Swiss fashion house of Akris was on fine form Saturday turning out a resplendent show full of hip, wearable clothes.
It’s sad but true that often on the Paris runway the higher the level of artistry, the less the level of wearability — so designer Albert Kriemler’s spring show was a breath of fresh air.
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the brand, the 74 designs ironically never felt so youthful.
Pearly gowns with ruffled collars, large oversize gold buttons on coats, and shimmering lace defined the aesthetic, which had a sort of East London kick.
Then came the art-inspired fare — a hallmark of the age-old house — with white graphic etchings on tulle skirts, or all over a black floppy boho gown.