Paris Fashion Week AW12 – The Crystal Method

13 Mar

Paris Fashion Week AW12 was a celebration of sorts – anniversaries, departures and inaugural performances, for many designers. Alber Elbaz celebrated his ten-year anniversary at Lanvin, Stefano Pilati solemnly departed YSL after a eight year tenure, Marc Jacobs celebrated his first exposition with Louis Vuitton at Musée Arts Decoratifs, and Manish Aroraand Kanye West both launched second collections for respective lines PacoRabanne and Kanye West.


 Chanel’s AW12 Fashion show

So where did that take the aesthetic direction for fall? Well, one strong theme amongst this season’s chaos culminatedin a fascination with precious stones. While many houses, particularly Chanel, PacoRabanne and Stella McCartneyriffed on prismatic hues and patterns in a literal sense, others, like Balmain, Viktor & Rolf and Givenchy explored a deeper foundation of jeweled metamorphosis. From baroque, opulently embellished garments, or modernist, plasticized evolutions, to subversive rock and roll post-punk glamour, to provocatively dark and fetishistic sexiness, precious stones inspired a diverse array of looks for AW12, a strong departure from spring’s pastel trend.

Arguably the leader of the fashion industry, Karl Lagerfeld turned his biannual bravura performance at the Grand Palais into a crystal concubine this Tuesday, March 6, rendering life-sized plastic manifestations of sapphire and amethyst stones.  His jewel-toned collection echoed the setting with sheer metallic maxi-skirts and pants in gold, sapphire or ruby over skinny black pants, creating a mille feuille of texturized excavation.  Karl didn’t miss a detail – embroidered braid edged suits captured micro-crystals while cold cuffs and necklaces boasted large amethyst stones.  Of course, the iconic quilted Chanel purses in rich purple leather were adorned with crystals too.  And the superlative designer didn’t stop there.  Models’ eyebrows were exaggerated through crystal appliques, and his much anticipated nail polish colors, this season in Blue Satin, Pearl Drop and Vendetta, were distributed to excited guests.


Chanel’s AW12 Fashion show

Lanvin’s show, carried the theme of opulence in a lavish display of goodies for AlberElbaz’ 10th year anniversary at the house.  Sculpted cocktail dresses in solid hues of emerald, sapphire and ruby opened the show, which quickly morphed silky frocks elevated by crystal clustered embellishments or glamorous jeweled bib necklaces.   The overall aesthetic was feminine, fun and audacious – like the sultry, yet lighthearted Lanvin romantic woman.  Even Stella McCartney focused her ordinarily nude color palette around azure.  Elegant sportswear and classic eveningwear found solice through a balance between stark cobalt and soft variations of peach, ecru and nude. Formally closing fashion week at ten am as always, Marc Jacobs exceeded his SS12 carrousel performance with an in-house built steam engine roaring through the Louvre Carrée.  His prohibition exploration focused on metallic jewel embellishments on A-line wool dresses.  Jacobs’ detailed opulence, most notably on the highly lauded accessories, elevated his use of a primarily singular silhouette.   An ornate display, even for a house like Vuitton, which reminded its audience of the evening’s red carpet event at Musée Arts Decoratifs.

Other housesalso took a more subversive approach to the obvious theme of jewel-toned riches through an exposition of curious textures, such as Olivier Roustang’s reworked Balmain blazer embellished with couturier caliber clusters of pearls juxtaposed byvelvetflared trousers in chrysocolla.  The heavily saturated compilations lent a baroque edge to Balmain’s rocker look. Similarly, Manish Arora focused his second collection at PacoRabanne around a shade of azure, offset by micro-chainlink embellished cuffs and dropped embellished waistlines on shifts in place of a belt.  His designs felt fresh and wearable, in the way that Christophe Decarnin reinvented Balmain some five or six years ago.  Riccardo Tisci honed his dark, fetishistic aesthetic that has earnedGivenchythe title of one of the hottest shows in town through rich combinations of black leather and astrakhan.  Bright bursts of ruby and topaz lit up the otherwise anthracite aesthete, bringing a fiery elegance to his models. Viktor & Rolf approached the riches of gemstones from a more abstract perspective.  Their intricate collection, composed primarily of fur, incorporated couturier practices into a RTW collection.  After showing a modest palette of neutral earth tones, the gentleman duo finalized their collection with an artistic backdrop that morphed from black and white into a fiery blazon yellow, exposing the sentiment ‘everything turns to gold.’

After spring’s reigning romance – Karl’s minty sea creatures, Marc’s candy carrousel confections, and Valentino’s lacey feminine frocks, designers looked to a bold direction for fall.  Rocker and fetishistic undertones elevated opulent baroquecollections, with garments undergoing a crystal metamorphosis. Amidst many new departures and directions for designers this season, they needed to look towards something constant to find value.  What better place to go than the core of the earth?


  Chanel’s AW12 Fashion show

                                                      Article by Ali Leier

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