PARIS (AP) — Valentino took drama to its height at its Wednesday spring couture collection in Paris, where Celine Dion wept theatrically as a solemn Naomi Campbell swept past to close the house’s show in a see-through black organza gown.
The VIP crowd that was surrounded by multicolored perfumed flowers whooped during a standing ovation as snow fell outside.
Here are some highlights of Wednesday’s spring-summer 2019 couture collections:
VALENTINO’S FLOWER WOMEN
On couturier Pierpaolo Piccioli’s request, Valentino’s seamstresses named each and every couture dress after a flower or emotion.
This detail reveals the preciousness that the designer and his atelier bestowed on the 65 carefully constructed looks, in which each model was transformed into a silken bloom.
A surreal red rose hood opened the collection, enveloping the model’s head. Later gowns were less unusual or daring, producing a display in which Piccioli offered a more classical interpretation of floral couture.
Wednesday’s effort lacked some of the vigor of Piccioli’s standout collection last season, but it was poetic, thoughtful and color-rich.
Aquarelle floral print on a draped pant look sported billowing sleeves that harkened to the Italy-based house’s touchstone of the Renaissance.
A dramatic tiered pant-gown shimmered with floral lace encrustations and pearls. It took some 620 hours to make, according to the program notes.
RAMI MALEK LOVES PARIS
A smiling Rami Malek cut a dapper figure decked out in Valentino, inside the Hotel Salomon de Rothschild, with his girlfriend Lucy Boynton.
Malek says he’s still riding a high following his Oscar best actor nomination for portraying Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” and enjoying the fashion scene.
“I see this very much as high art. It’s a really special occasion to see some couture — the cream of the crop,” he said.
Malek, who was born and raised in Los Angeles to Egyptian immigrant parents, said he was also enjoying being in the city where some of his family lives.
“It’s extraordinary to be here with my family on a magical snowy day in Paris,” he said, adding that “the politics of Egypt in the 1970s is why my family is here.”
GAULTIER’S ASIAN WATERS
It was a typically tongue-in-cheek affair for Gaultier.
This season, a particularly theatrical vision of Asia was served up in combination with a water theme.
Gaultier’s signature maritime stripe opened the show on an Asian model with a cinched oriental waist. The Asian theme became more obvious as the collection progressed beginning with a look from Gaultier muse, model Anna Cleveland.
She rocked a diaphanous pleated organza gown with voluminous sleeves and a black crisscross “martial arts” lapel. It was topped with a huge, piled-up Oriental wig, an accessory featured throughout the show.
The program notes then listed a series of looks inspired by the sea such as “New Wave,” featuring an undulating black-and-white striped organza front piece.
Then, a dark wool pant suit with jagged “fin” shoulders called “Stop Being a Shark” filed by, prompting chuckles from some seated guests.
Sports Illustrated cover model Irina Shayk heaped praise on Gaultier for championing diversity and creating collections that could speak to all kinds of men and women of different ages and style.
“That’s what makes him so special in the fashion industry. He broke all the barriers,” said Shayk, ahead of the summer show that featured Asian and black models and played on Asia-inspired styles.
“He doesn’t have a standard beauty. You can see models of different shapes and personalities on the runway. It’s not a typical fashion show,” she added.
Since an early age, Gaultier, 66, has been inspired by models from different backgrounds. In 1979, he launched the career of one of his earliest muses, supermodel Farida Khelfa, who is of Algerian descent.
ELIE SAAB SWIMS
Elie Saab swam to the depths of the sea for inspiration and came back up with a sparkling bounty of summer couture.
A Caribbean island and underwater flora was the theme of the show inside Paris’ Palais de Chaillot that was put on to the sound of an enchanting James Bond-style soundtrack.
Oversized shades resembling a sort of underwater-mask set the chic but playful tone.
Saab’s loose, full silk gowns gleamed with embroidered sequins and beading that referenced the sparkle of tropical fish, sea mollusks and mother-of-pearl.
Coral was the idea behind asymmetrical architectural gowns in vivid red that captured the randomly forming three-dimensional curves of the beautiful sea organisms.
Couture swimwear added a fun touch amid the aquatic musing alongside some figure-hugging mermaid cuts.
After arriving in the city earlier in the week in a low-key hoodie, the 50-year-old Canadian singer garnered attention for a host of reasons.
She skipped many bigger collections on Tuesday and was instead photographed laughing, joking and even whooping in the front row of lesser-known designer Alexandre Vauthier.
Many guests found the superstar’s down-to-earth behavior refreshing.
At Wednesday’s Valentino show, she was over 30 minutes late and held up the start.
Once seated, she wept dramatically throughout and caused a small commotion in the middle as she requested tissues from helpers.
Seldom seen at Paris shows, Dion is beloved by the French and was here in 2016 shortly after the death of her husband and brother when she triggered media mayhem on arrival at Christian Dior’s couture atelier show.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K
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