I've never been a big fan of animals on the runway. That pit bull who used to close the AsFour show terrified me; the wayward sheep on Miguel Androver's 2001 catwalk seemed to presage the designer's downfall. So when Hermès sends out a falcon perched on a model's arm during Christophe Lemaire's debut collection for the house, I can only think maybe this is meant as a distraction from Hermès CEO Patrick Thomas's now-notorious comment last week? Regarding the hostile takeover attempt by LVMH, a clueless Thomas observed: "If you want to seduce a beautiful woman, you don't start by raping her from behind." (It certainly has been a season for verbal assaults.)
Jane Birkin, an incredibly beautiful woman, is sitting directly across from me, which is kind of thrilling (I can't see if she is carrying a Birkin), and the clothes, though they emerge at a glacially slow pace, are dignified and expensive-looking and a vast improvement over the James Bond-ish monstrosities Gaultier was increasingly fond of during his tenure at the house.
Speaking of glaciers there isn't one at Chanel, unlike the runway here a year ago, which was famous for its 265-ton iceberg shipped from Sweden for the occasion. Nor were we invited to a hoedown with Lily Allen (spring 2010), or entertained by the strains of a full orchestra playing Björk ditties (spring 2011). Instead, we get a runway of blank planks surrounded by black steaming coals. This postapocalyptic setting does not entirely manage to dim the light of the clothing there are wonderfully baggy jackets (you won't need a size 46!) along with a series of cat suits rendered in lace and sequins, which I have always thought is an exceedingly difficult garment to wear, though one guy (there are always a few men on the Chanel runway) in a canvas version with giant lapels makes it look easy.
In this season's war between color-blocking and polka dots, can there be any winners? (We may well be sick of these nascent trends before we ever get to wear them.) Color-block pullovers alternate with coats on the Céline runway (the outerwear is longer, with an equestrian feeling, and you will be sad that they cost so much when they arrive in stores). At Chloé the blocks are fashioned into an ankle-length poncho (perhaps not the best idea). Stella McCartney resides in the dot camp, and the spotted sheer insets in her black dresses are the best things in her show that is, aside from Sir Paul, who sits, as ever, beaming in the audience.
If Fashion Week were a movie, you would scream "No way!" at Marc Jacobs's ending. Too obvious! But believe it or not, a week that began with Galliano's banishment over anti-Semitic comments ends with Jacobs expressing his own affection for the wonderful years of the Second World War. Black balloons hover off the Cour Carrée du Louvre, where the Louis Vuitton show takes place, and models dressed as maids with feather dusters line the staircase into the venue, in an apparent homage to The Night Porter, a film about Nazi S/M eroticism that, you may recall, generated its own controversy when it was released in 1974.
Three elevator cages occupy the center of the runway and stern-looking porters unlock each in turn. As they go up and down, they disgorge models wearing what appear to be fascist caps rendered in LV fabric (I am not making this up) and sporting such items as patent leather trenches and latex boots, reminiscent of SS outerwear.
Another group of models, wearing pretty, faintly glittery forties-ish print dresses (it would take a lot of ration coupons to buy one of these numbers) emerge, mercifully capless, and then all this unpleasantness wraps up with Kate Moss, sauntering down the runway smoking a cigarette, a privilege not afforded to the models in the printed dresses. Even if they dared, they couldn't enjoy a cig the poor girls are handcuffed.
Watch video of the Louis Vuitton show: