PARIS (AP) — Words were almost inaudible amid the screams when Stella McCartney presented her collection at Paris Fashion Week Monday, which toyed with draping and upcycling.
Such exuberant outbursts would usually come from the designer’s fans. But it was McCartney herself who caused the commotion when global entertainment icon Oprah Winfrey appeared backstage at her show.
Meanwhile, Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen traveled for winter inspiration to the textile mills of her native northern England.
Here are some highlights of the fall and winter 2019 ready-to-wear displays:
JUST BOW AND SCREAM, IT’S OPRAH
Winfrey managed to utter “It was beautiful. It was fun,” amid the noise and cameras.
McCartney, a global fashion icon and the daughter of former-Beatle Paul McCartney was evidently humbled as she was jostled backstage while standing alongside Winfrey.
“I’m dying,” exclaimed McCartney.
Winfrey, who’s rarely seen on the fashion circuit, smiled as McCartney lavished praise.
McCartney said she advised her models, including Natalia Vodianova, “Just bow down,” if you “walk past her.”
Winfrey arrived flanked by a bodyguard, race car driver Lewis Hamilton and Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s first black editor-in-chief.
A STELLA COLLECTION
Strong shoulders with draping spilling down and pops of vivid color made up the style formula for McCartney’s show at Paris’ ornate Opera Garnier.
The British-American designer said she aimed this season to project a “powerful persona.” Her chicly-deployed collection succeeded in towing the line between this strength and a softness that has come to be synonymous with McCartney’s designs.
Structure was everywhere. Tight waists were cinched with on-trend belts or geometric panels.
But McCartney demonstrated her deft hand by using draping sensitively to break up any harshness in the lines.
Fall-winter was all about the shoulders, which came peaked in the style of the late-1970s or with an extraneous layer of material for a stylish Japanese feel.
A vivid red gown with a cross-over-style torso and fluttery waist tassels perfected the Asian musing. In an intentionally divergent style, contrasting black thigh-high “stripper” boots accessorized that look to give it some welcome spice.
A vacuum-packed oak tree leaf was included inside invitations to eco-warrior McCartney’s show.
It was done to promote a campaign to protect the Leuser Ecosystem in Indonesia. Called “There She Grows”, the campaign invites the public and the designer’s friends — that have so far included Gwyneth Paltrow, Pink, Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon and Rooney Mara — to dedicate a tree to raise awareness.
The ecological references by the designer, who uses no fur and only “vegetarian leather”, continued in the collection through lashings of greens and browns in the color palette, and the use of upcycled material to make dresses.
“We try to bring the environment into the conversation now, more and more,” McCartney told the AP.
Ecology has been a theme this season: Kenzo sent out an invite last week with tomato seeds embedded in the plantible paper.
ALEXANDER MCQUEEN GOES NORTH
At the Alexander McQueen show, rows of industrial lighting, raw planks of wood for a runway and seating made of a roll of woolen fabric evoked the mills of northern England, a region once known worldwide for its textiles.
British designer Sarah Burton traveled back to where she grew up to inspire the fashion house’s wintery looks.
“I took my team to those mills, to a landscape that I remember from my childhood. The heart of the collection is inspired by the bolts of cloth we saw woven both by man and machine,” Burton said.
Burton and company returned from their travels with a sharply tailored collection.
The first looks — suited, with tight waists that sometimes sported a draped asymmetrical panel — were made from flannels in charcoal and anthracite. They were common colors in the English north, which also made the British Empire wealthy with its coal industry.
A shimmering silver floor-length gown, which was among the strong collection’s best looks, continued the industrial references.
Its long paillettes were made to look like weaving loom heddles, the metal parts that separate the threads in fabric-making. The decorations shook alluringly as the model walked, the house said, to “mimic the sound of the factory floor.”
This look encompassing “high” and “low” — a twinning of factory machinery and luxury — is the type of fashion contradiction essential to understanding the spirit of Burton and the legacy of the late McQueen.
GIAMBATTISTA VALLI’S SPACE SHIP
A slanted wall with trapezoid-shaped window holes and sanitized lighting evoked the mood of a spaceship for Italian designer Giambattista Valli.
Adding to the futuristic mood were powder-colored heels with shaggy fringing that evoked Chewbacca from “Star Wars.” There were also sheeny black high-waisted pants.
Aside from these references, the fall-winter collection was predictable territory — but beautiful nonetheless.
Valli’s signature floral prints and unfurling short silk gowns were ubiquitous and mixed in with the season’s top trends like emphasized shoulders.
“I love to give emphasis in (a) big shoulder, but not in a powerful way. More like in a comfortable feminine way,” Valli explained to the AP.
Jabot collars and tulle neck detailing meanwhile ticked the 1970s trend box.
SACAI GOES DARK
A darker and more aggressive mood than usual befell Sacai, one of Japan’s most popular luxury brands, and it was not just in the colors.
Warrior-like waists in black and gray were shown cinched with thick belts or extra layers of fabric.
Patent leather shoes sported pointed spikes and studded straps that resembled armor.
Large round shoulders created the effect of a padded silhouette, evoking the traditional layering of an Asian fighter.
The styles worked well thanks to contrasting, chic touches, such as large cream fur coat cuffs that added luxuriance.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K
Deborah Gouffran contributed to this report
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