The Spring 2011 haute couture collections kicked off in Paris yesterday. Here are our mini-reviews of the most esteemed fashion shows in the world. First up, Armani Privé by Giorgio Armani and Christian Dior by John Galliano.
Metallic leggings and saucer hats ruled the runways at the Armani Privé couture show as Jodie Foster (attending her first fashion show ever), Olivia Wilde, Sophia Loren and Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar (who is, by the way, making the couture rounds -- research for his next psychodrama?) watched in unison.
Armani took his glam audience on a space odyssey of sorts, or oddity, depending on how you look at it. Gleaming fabrics came in liquid brights -- reds, purple, fuchsia, indigo -- and harlequin-esque color-blocking was a welcome reference to Armani's own glory days in the '80s. This was effective in a color-play pantsuit, but less so in a strange ball skirt.
Dramatically dropped waists on voluminous gowns presented an interesting and forward silhouette. They had a soupçon of the sporty seaside 1940s demoiselles Armani often emulates, especially in nautical shades of pale blue and white.
To further his galaxy quest, Armani finished the show with elaborate sculptural creations that featured mirrored disks that resembled colorful armor. Could these have been made with Armani Privé devotee Anne Hathaway in mind? Given the shellacking that Golden Globes emcee Ricky Gervais has taken, the impending Oscar hostess may need the added protection.
John Galliano's couture collection for Dior was inspired by René Gruau, who worked for the House of Dior in the '40s and '50s as an illustrator. To capture the artist's clever and precise works on paper, Galliano created ombré fabrics to resemble pencil shading, he embroidered dresses on one side and even went so far as to give Karlie Kloss two differently colored red gloves: one graphite, one crimson.
Resembling bold strokes of paint, the hats of milliner -- and long-time Galliano collaborator -- Stephen Jones stood up on end, feathering at the top before they disappeared into thin air. Dresses mimicked an aged watercolor with faded colors such as pale blue and light yellow splitting both sides of the dress. Embroidery represented pen scribbles. Models' eyebrows were drawn on in slashes of red.
Silhouettes were characteristically '40s and '50s, with ubiquitous three-quarter-length skirts shown with cropped or peplum jackets. Voluminous '50s skirts of tulle jutted straight out from nipped waists, and sometimes cascaded in jutting trompe l'oeil layers like brush strokes. It was Galliano at his artistic best.
Speaking of models, check out some of your favorite supes from back-in-the-day music videos.