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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Princess Diana’s Niece Gives a Behind the Scenes Tour of Milan Fashion Week

Lady Kitty Spencer is Bulgari’s latest brand ambassador, as well as an aficionado of all things Italian, and so, for a fresh perspective on Milan Fashion Week, InStyle invited the modeling royal to weigh in on her experience during the recent collections. Here, a page from her diary (or rather, a transcript of her comments during a brief interview at Bulgari’s dinner party last Friday night):

VIDEO: Watch Jasmine Sanders’s Bulgari Campaign

“I got here a couple of days ago, after a shoot for Bulgari in London the evening before. I had another shoot for Bulgari yesterday, and then today I got to see the new collection of accessories — all black and a little bit of pink, which is really cool. The black day bags are not necessarily for evening, although there were couture-inspired brooches that come from the archives of the heritage collection. And they’ve got a 24-karat gold bag here that is spectacular. Tomorrow, I have a shoot again, and then we go to the amfAR gala. It’s been lots of fun, lot’s of dress up.

Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images

“I like to walk around in Milan. There’s a beautiful park in the Brera neighborhood where we walk around, but I really like to walk on my own and put my music in my ears, and you always somehow end up in the right place as long as you look on the map and see somewhere that has a green patch.

“I have a few friends here, so last night we went to Il Salumaio. It’s so lovely. I was thinking I was going to be good because it’s fashion week, but obviously there is burrata and truffle pasta, and, well, you know. The waiter said, ‘I really think you guys should share the burrata as a starter, but we said, no, no, no.’ Perhaps we should have listened to him, as I sit here in this corset, but it was such a beautiful restaurant. We got there at 10 p.m. and I had an early start this morning, but it was worth it. If the schedule gets full, you want to make sure you stay on top of things and rest, but it’s important, too, to get out and explore.

“We went to Grom for ice cream today. I always like nocciala, the hazelnut flavor. Tomorrow I’m going to Giacomo, which is amazing. It’s a nice time to catch up, because it’s all sort of people you meet up with. Milan is a happy place — it’s my favorite fashion week.

“I’ve been here quite a few times already, and I’m walking on Dolce & Gabbana again on Sunday. My fitting was this morning, so that’s coming up, and then Domenico’s 60th on Sunday night, and then I think I’m going to sleep all next week. I’m an owl at the moment, nocturnal. But I love it, both brands are so colorful and fun — so Italian. Bulgari parties are always the most fun for the dancing, and everyone stays. It’s rare to come to a work thing and have so much fun. You always think you have to behave, but here, I just make sure I can sleep in the next morning.”

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Avengers: Infinity War Movie Review

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Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

I suppose any film with roughly 30 speaking parts, and intended as the grand culmination of story arcs explored across 18 movies over the last 10 years is bound to feel a bit overstuffed. Avengers: Infinity War, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, clocks in at a butt-numbing 2 hours and 29 minutes. I won’t lie, it does feel long. But it’s also very enjoyable for the bulk of it. Remember how the end credits sequence in the first Iron Man movie, all the way back in 2008, hinted at the idea of an Avengers Initiative? Who’d have thought at the time that this is what it was leading up to! Because, as you probably know already, unless you’ve been living under a rock, Infinity War teams up practically everyone that’s ever appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: the Founding Avengers – Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow; the Guardians of the Galaxy – all of them; later entrants Scarlett Witch, Vision, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Black Panther, and other characters from each of their respective worlds. Throw a stone and you’ll hit a superhero. You’re also likely aware that only one thing could bring all these good guys together – a bad guy, namely Thanos, who’s been a looming threat referenced in previous Marvel films, and who is finally centrestage this time around. Played by Josh Brolin in a terrific motion-capture performance that doesn’t miss a nuance, Thanos is a 12-feet-tall, purple-skinned mega villain with an oversized chin, who’s bent on acquiring all six of the Infinity Stones, and wiping out half of the galaxy’s population to save the other half – don’t ask! Every superhero in the MCU, summoned from their respective stomping grounds, must do what they can to stop him.

That’s as far as I can tell you in terms of plot. Much of the joy in Infinity War comes from watching the awkward interactions and the unlikely friendships developed within this massive ensemble of do-gooders, many of whom don’t know each other, or even of each other’s existence. At one point Bruce Banner asks, very puzzled, “There’s an Ant-Man and a Spider-Man?” The script mines humour from personality clashes, conflicts, mild irritations, and one-upmanship. Let’s just say the combustible pairing of two sarcastic ego-maniacs Tony Stark and Doctor Strange delivers plenty laughs. Banner is having a hard time unleashing his inner Hulk, Peter Parker won’t shut up with all the pop-culture references, and Thor is thrown in with the wisecracking Guardians, led by the irrepressible Peter Quill.

But because there are so many of them in the mix, it’s practically impossible for every significant character to get a huge amount of screen-time here. Inevitably some get more to do than others. I was especially bummed to see one of my favourites, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, criminally underutilised. Even a promising fight scene between four badass female characters is prematurely and abruptly cut off. Frankly the only fella who gets a chunk of cinematic real estate is Thanos. In addition to destroying everything in his path in pursuit of those coveted Infinity Stones, his complicated relationship with adopted daughters Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) yields some surprisingly affecting moments.

It’s true also of other narrative strands. Infinity War has some well-earned and genuinely emotional moments involving characters you’ve had many years to be invested in. The action too never feels like a blur. Superhero films tend to climax in loud, messy CGI battles (both the previous Avengers films are guilty of this) that go on and on until the razor-sharp cutting makes your eyes glaze over and you can’t tell who’s doing what to whom. The action sequences in Infinity War – and there are plenty – never feel generic, perhaps because there are so many distinct superheroes and superpowers at play. The final stretch, in fact, is especially bold and somber, with the filmmakers raising the stakes in a way that these films seldom do.

There’s been a lot of chatter online about who lives and who dies at the end of this movie. Don’t expect any clues or any answers from me, but I will tell you that it’s hard to take everything that you see seriously, given that you know there’s a second movie out next year that’s meant to wrap up this arc. Still, you have to hand it to the Russos for the extent they’re willing to go to in order to deliver shock, suspense, and a mostly thrilling experience.

I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Avengers: Infinity War. It is overstuffed and overlong, but there’s so much going on you’ll barely notice. Best enjoyed with a big tub of popcorn.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

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