Pret-a-Reporter

Paris Day 3: At Balmain, A Look for Each Kardashian; Rick Owens' Cinematic Show

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Looks form Balmain's spring 2017 presentation

THR's senior fashion editor Booth Moore reports on the glitzy comings and goings of Paris Fashion Week.

The Paris shows continued Thursday with a Kardashian muse fest, a cinematic surprise and solid collections from two bohemian stalwarts.

#BalmainArmy Disbands

The show space was filled with lush palms, there was a stage with an orchestra set up, and it looked for all the world like someone big was going to perform, maybe even Kanye. His mug was on the show invitations, after all.

But alas, it was all to set the mood for the softer side of Balmain, as explained by designer Olivier Rousteing in the show notes. “My Balmain army has shed its armor,” he wrote. “Today, we believe that we clearly show in addition to pleasing our strong core of loyal customers, we can confidently open up the house to a wider audience.”

Was he going to woo those customers with the debut of a lower-priced Balmain secondary line following on the success of the brand’s collaboration with H&M? A sneaker collab a la Alexander Wang x Adidas? Mais non, with a wider breadth of merchandise, which sounds a lot less sexy than it was.

On the runway, the Balmain army had disbanded, stripping off its skin-tight uniforms, and making room for the Balmain everywoman, while also laying the groundwork, perhaps, for the brand to expand, following the first U.S. store, which opened in April in New York’s Soho.

Rousteing’s three muses were sitting front row — Kourtney Kardashian in a knit body suit and naked legs, Kim Kardashian in a gown that barely covered her breasts, and Kris Jenner covered up in a gray satin blazer, with her much younger beau on her arm.

Much has been said about the Kardashian physiques, and how they have pushed the ideal of beauty beyond model thin. And there was something for all of them in this well-rounded collection, including cargo pocketed capes, colorful knit pants slit up the leg, bubble dresses with elasticized hems, wrap kimono tops, breezy caftans and crystal mesh sweatshirts.

Rousteing was quite artful in how he concealed and revealed, and I imagine many of the collection styles could work on much larger women (it would have been nice to see some of them on the runway, however), including a dramatic red jersey gown that revealed a patch of shoulder here and the top of a thigh there; a python-print off-shoulder jacket that tied at the waist; mesh-and-fabric dresses jigsawed together to expose a collar bone, a strip of upper arm, or, gulp, underboob. It was an impressive output, and showed a new side of Balmain that should prove even more salable.

Rick Owens Lights The Way

A little known fact about Rick Owens, the long-haired, long-ago described goth designer who has made fans out of countless musicians and athletes, is that he’s a classic movie nerd. Almost every morning, when he’s getting dressed, he’s watching a Cecil B. DeMille movie with the sound off while playing opera, he told me once. Which is to say that he understands the cinematic potential of a fashion show, and quite enjoys it, obviously.

His spring collection was held in the dark basement of the Palais de Tokyo. When models descended the staircase and stepped onto the all-white runway, immediately one could see the clothes were more romantic than goth, in sweet notes of saffron yellow, lavender, raisin, peach and dove gray. Freestyle forms, they were folded, and molded like crumpled pieces of paper that could be “carried by the wind,” as the jazz singer on the soundtrack put it.

Halfway through their walk, models turned a sharp corner off the runway and onto the cement floor, passing a bank of lights, when all of a sudden color faded to black, and all that was left was a silhouette.

The first reaction was exasperation. How could the lighting suck so badly! I can’t get a photo to Instagram! But after a few models passed, you didn’t just glance, you watched.

Was it an entreaty to put the camera phone down and appreciate a moment IRL? Maybe, except that the 2D photos of the looks in silhouette were just as compelling in their own way.

There Owens was again, making us see things differently.

Bring On the Boho

Nothing is ever that different at Chloe or Isabel Marant. But that’s OK. The two labels are constants in women’s wardrobes for that certain effortless boho look that the French do so well.

For spring, Chloe designer Clare Waight Keller changed notes ever so slightly by drawing on seafaring motifs to show surf shorts worn with a romantic blouse, heavy sail cotton cut into a cute sundress with bows on the shoulders, cropped sailor pants and a siren’s corseted white camisole. The new mini bags with bracelet handles were another must.

At Marant, it was all about ‘80s rock n’ ruffles — Beastie Boys on the soundtrack, frilly blouses (a big trend for the season), baby floral dresses and high-waist, paper bag waist pants on the runway. And let’s not forget the designer’s next must-have shoe: a strappy sandal that wraps the ankles in ruffles. Ready to roll.

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