Paris Fashion Week Kicks Off With Dior and Gucci

Paris Fashion Week Kicks Off With Dior and Gucci

The Paris collections opened on Monday with a battle royale, as Dior and Gucci, two of fashion’s biggest luxury players, faced off in a surprising matchup that was, in the short term, a bid to capture more eyeballs, and, in the long term, part of a majorly knockout fight for market share.

Designers are notoriously competitive, as we all know, but the luxury conglomerates that own their houses are downright brutal in their efforts to grow bigger, faster, and stronger than anyone else, at any cost.

Case in point: Gucci, the explosively powerful prizefighter owned by Kering, which normally opens the Milan collections, moved its show this season to a prime position at the start of the Paris collections. Not to be scooped, Dior, owned by Kering’s rival LVMH, advanced its show by a day, so it would still be the first big event of Paris, preceding Gucci by six hours.

While this may seem like inside baseball to viewers watching at home, it does make a difference, and Dior — led by artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri — was more than up for the challenge by its Italian neighbor. Chiuri has slowly, methodically, and patiently built a case for her vision of a feminist, sensual, and unabashedly unpractical Dior, where sheer dresses and visible underwear are part and parcel to her aesthetic.

She has faced her doubters. But she has remained true in her convictions and she has ultimately persevered — her spring collection being her finest to date, energized by a mesmerizing dance performance in a stunning black space. Israeli choreographer Sharon Eyal led a troupe, outfitted in leggings and tights embroidered in the Dior style, through a shower of rose petals, as each dancer slowly moved across a vast black tent, erected for the occasion somewhere in the Bois de Boulogne.

They joined into pairs, and then groups, creating hypnotic movements that both distracted and enhanced the clothes being simultaneously presented on Chiuri’s runway.

Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Getty Images

Those designs were inspired by dance, though the reference was loose enough to allow for some fabulous daywear and dresses that really showed Chiuri’s strength of creating gowns that are simultaneously conservative in their full lengths and perverse in their transparency. A lengthy opening of neutral khaki and severely black dresses was interrupted by surprises of tie-die and denim, and textured skirts that looked incredibly intricate, even in the darkened room with so much going on. One favorite look was a sheer dress of black netting with a skirt of multi-colored tulle, worn like an X-ray over a black fishnet bodysuit.

Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Getty Images

Gucci’s Paris debut, meanwhile, was a highly anticipated event, so much so that the entire block surrounding the historic Le Palace theater was mobbed with screaming fans. Gucci’s designer, Alessandro Michele, has so successfully rewritten the codes of luxury over the last five years that it seemed fairly reasonable for him to start a show with a shock film, with a floppy model meandering, or possibly overdosing, in a nice old house

(I worry she may need medical assistance), that might have been inspired by New Wave cinema, or might have had something to do with current horror movies — who knows? It was disruptive, anyway. Inside, the show was laid out around the rows of seats, with models entering from the back of the theater and walking down the aisles to the stage so that most guests got only a good look at their backsides.

While the event could have benefited from a better choreographer, it was still pretty fabulous when Jane Birkin — Jane Birkin, people!

— suddenly stood up from her seat and sang “Baby Alone in Babylone.” And the clothes, as deliriously outré as ever, had a lot going for them as well — particularly the dresses of flip-flapping fringe, and the guys who wore droopy Gucci underpants, and the handbags shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head, and the jacket and the top painted with the face of Dolly Parton, and the lady with the live cockatoo on her shoulder …

well, this is Michele’s personal trip, so don’t expect some sort of rational explanation for what happened here. At best, I noticed more of a hippie vibe in the tailoring of corduroy suits, with their flaring trousers, and disco tops, which I rather liked.

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

It’s hard to say exactly who won the day, as the shows turned out to be so different, but I’m sure if you look on social media, you’ll get a better count.

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Life Review

Director: Daniel Espinosa
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds

For viewers who’re rooted in Hollywood science fiction, Life is a treat! The film, more like a well-woven knit of moments – both in words and in thrill – keeps you intrigued and at the edge of your seat for most part.

The film chronicles the journey of a 6-member International Space Station crew who is on a mission – ‘Pilgrim 7 Mission’ – to find the existence of life on Mars. What they find, however, turns out to be more than just life.

It deals with a plot quite familiar to sci-fi lovers and brings to screen the curious case of what would happen when humans get to battle (read control) an extra-terrestrial living being. The racially and culturally diverse crew includes members, each well-qualified in their own field, to undercover the life on the planet. They find a single celled microscopic being – which in itself is a ground breaking news – driving people on Earth crazy. On their journey back home, the unicellular ‘Calvin’, as they call it, starts growing by heaps and bounds. It starts with subtle movement, a slight twitch, response to environment but soon turns to a catastrophic existence waiting to grab anything and everything in sight.

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To convey the larger-than-life consuming power of Calvin, several well-crafted terror scenes are depicted and that’s when you realise the power of this film. No one will be spared you feel and that consideration for the characters’ survival creeps upon you. Even though the build-up doesn’t take in account the life of crew members, few personal accounts make you feel connected enough to worry about their endurance.

‘In space, no one can hear you scream’ – the tagline still echoes when the topic of Hollywood space thrillers pop up. Considering the reign of 1989-film Alien, it was a big gamble for director Daniel Espinosa to enter this territory but to his credit, he has helmed a film worth watching. At times, you do get the same vibe as that of Interstellar and Alien but it still isn’t an out and out rip off.

More so, the fact that each of the 6 characters in the lead, has a pivotal role to play – both in meaning and in acting – pulls forward the narrative quite smoothly.

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There are certain scenes, so well-crafted, they actually make you feel claustrophobic. They send chills down your spine and while you’re always at the edge of your seat post 45 minutes the starting time, they make your eyes pop out. In a good way, of course. Furthermore, the cinematography and the background score work in tandem to deliver the required essence.

Large part of credit for ‘Life’ to have a life of its own goes to the writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, who many known as the men behind Deadpool. Minimal words and crisp dialogues make it a gruesome popcorn flick. It doesn’t use words that you may think could have been avoided nor forced jokes or conversations too serious to be true. Plus, the dialogues don’t hint at a deeper philosophical meanings, but stay true to the usage and keep the slight realism intact.

All in all, it’s an impressive film which swiftly makes a transition from some extra-terrestrial fun to some bloodbath. Be prepared for some horrid scenes between alien and human too, of course.

Rating: 3.5/5

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Baahubali 2 Review

Director: SS Rajamouli
Cast: Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Anushka Shetty, Ramya Krishnan, Tamannaah Bhatia, Sathyaraj, Nassar

The answer to that burning question – you know which one; the one that has spawned innumerable spoofs, memes and gifs – comes nearly an hour and forty-five minutes into Baahubali 2: The Conclusion. To be honest, you can spot it from a mile away. But it’s a testament to director SS Rajamouli’s unmatchable storytelling skills that he ensures the film is about a lot more than just the revelation of the suspense behind that punchline.

In 2015, Rajamouli’s sweeping epic Baahubali: The Beginning became the highest grossing Telugu film and one that effectively achieved what few regional films have, namely extraordinary pan-India success and popularity via its dubbed versions. We were instantly seduced by the story of Mahishmati’s princes Amarendra Baahubali and Bhalaldeva, by the conundrum of Sivagami who had to pick the future king between the two men, by the unflinching loyalty and subsequent betrayal of Katappa, and by the arrival of Mahendra Baahubali aka Shiva who freed the long suffering Devsena and learnt the truth about his identity.

Baahubali 2 is a king-sized sequel expressly designed to be a blockbuster. The clash between Baahubali and his cousin Bhalaldeva (Rana Dagubatti) is still at the core of this story, although everything here is bigger – from the sets, to the muscles in leading man Prabhas’ back. The comedy, mostly featuring Katappa (Sathyaraj), is squarely lost in translation, and romance remains the weak link in the Baahubali movies with way too much screen time committed to the blossoming of the relationship between a young Devsena (an impressive Anushka Shetty) and Amarendra Baahubali. Still, it’s never gratuitous like the frankly pointless courting of Tamannah’s character by Shiva in the earlier film.

Devsena, in fact, is a crucial player in the new film, a skilled warrior and, admirably, a fiery feminist who won’t let others make life decisions for her. As is often the case in stories involving kings and kingdoms, the woman is a catalyst for much of the drama that unfolds. In this case it’s two women: Devsena, but also Sivagami (a terrific Ramya Krishna) whose character, unfortunately, ends up being a bundle of unconvincing contradictions. A solid, headstrong woman who can stand up to any man in the palace, but who nevertheless falls prey to hearsay.

The simplistic, predictable story is the chink in the film’s armor. But it has to be said here that Rajamouli is a consummate craftsman who sweeps you up in the filmmaking. He skillfully uses every tool at his disposal, including rousing background music, slow-motion technology, clap-trap moments, and fantastical flights of fancy to transport you to the world of his characters. It’s impossible not to be impressed by a magnificent, larger-than-life coronation sequence. It’s hard not to cheer when a key character avenges an insult to a woman’s honor. There is also a ship that flies, a stampede of bulls with horns on fire, and palm trees that are used as catapults in a battle scene. There is virtually no stopping Rajamouli’s incredible imagination.

The other big draw, and frankly true of both films, is the committed, extraordinary performance by Prabhas, whose sheer physicality and intensity is a sight to behold. That key moment he shares with Katappa is milked to great emotional effect.

Baahubali 2 has better special effects and bigger battle sequences but its success lies in Rajamouli’s ability to turn a frankly standard story of sibling rivalry and revenge into an entertaining and consistently watchable film. Despite its running time of 2 hours and 47 minutes, I was never bored.

I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five. The last film felt more organic, this one throws everything at the screen, and it’s hard not to submit.

Rating: 3.5/5

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