"Fetish: an object believed to have magical power... Something to which one is irrationally devoted." So read the notes at the Louis Vuitton show that opened the final day of the Paris collections yesterday.
This over-arching theme worked on many different levels, from the humorous – French maids with oversized feather dusters in Louis Vuitton brown and gold ushered guests to their seats – to the reverent. Irony aside, the workmanship that goes into this collection is indeed elevated to the point almost of worship.
Add to the mix an SM overtone that more than nodded to the film Night Porter and the artist Allen Jones, not to mention the launch of that not-so-obscure object of desire, the new Louis Vuitton bag (it's called "The Lockit"), and it's safe to say that brand creative director, Marc Jacobs, left no stone unturned.
Louis Vuitton, it is well-known, is the jewel in the LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) crown and the sheer scale of both production and set were nothing if not a statement of power. A bank of cage elevators and a spiral staircase were centre stage on a catwalk part matt black, part equally inky, high-shine.
The clothes reflected it perfectly: gleaming patent-leather neck pieces, corsetry, collars and cuffs were played off against uptight, uniform-inspired wool tailoring and equally strict, sheer pencil skirts.
The staples of the dominatrix dungeon were all present and correct too: whips, handcuffs and masks were appliqued on to everything from army caps to evening coats.
Block-heeled court shoes and more that were laced to the knee were followed by rubber rain boots, finishing a look that was formidable from head to toe, particularly as worn by supermodels Naomi Campbell, Amber Valletta and Kate Moss – the latter in hotpants and smoking a cigarette. The return to the catwalk of these, the ultimate supermodels, is always a sight for sore eyes.
At the end of this month HBO is screening a television re-make of the Joan Crawford classic, Mildred Pierce, itself adapted from the James M Cain novel set in Depression-era America.
The eponymous lead, this time played by the British actress Kate Winslet, is unlikely to be quite so well or indeed as interestingly dressed as the models at the Miu Miu show that took place later in the day but they share a similar spirit.
Here, a 1940s shoulder line was exaggerated on masculine wool jackets with stiff, white collars that never met in the middle. They looked stronger for the fact that they were worn not with trousers but over bare legs.
A boyish flourish nonetheless, these were juxtaposed with crepe tea dresses that clearly had their roots in that same period but came in the sludgy colour palette Miuccia Prada has by now made her own, and in black and white, and embroidered with sprigs of sparkling silver cherry blossom, pink meadow flowers and gold and silver birds in flight. Borrowed from menswear again, and less nostalgic, were sportswear-influenced wool blouson tops and trousers with elasticated waists and hems. They looked particularly fine worn with old school baseball caps.
In direct contrast to the hard-edged glamour that has dominated the season and the French fashion capital in particular, here was a sweetly mournful and gently beautiful character, her idiosyncratic appeal only added to by smoky doe eyes, crumpled bows, giant velvet granny purses and glittery Mary Jane shoes.Reuse content