A welcome surprise from the great revivalist at YSL
Monday 10 October 2005
Yesterday in Paris the designer Stefano Pilati, who designs the Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche label, reprised the look, with sheer chiffon evening dresses in shades of claret or mustard. The effect may not shock contemporary eyes, but in such a modest season of spring/summer shows, it was nonetheless surprising.
Since taking over the reins at the venerable French house last year, Pilati has carved out his own path, impressing critics and buyers alike with his sharp silhouettes and inventive accessories. It was Pilati who began the revival of the puffball skirt in 2004, and his big-buckled belts have also been imitated by other designers.
This season, though, he didn't introduce any entirely new ideas, preferring to subtly tweak the silhouette - of angular jackets and high-waisted pencil skirts - that he has established for the Gucci Group-owned brand. The slight update was achieved with a vaguely Spanish twist, as in fringes of pompons on a slick black skirt suit, or a blouse that bloomed rosettes at the throat.
For sheer bravado, however, the last day of Paris fashion week belonged to the luxury handbag brand Louis Vuitton.
It's often said that while Paris is the most creative of the fashion capitals, New York is that most concerned with commerce. Yet the owners of Louis Vuitton, the French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton), are infinitely capable of making a grand capitalist gesture.
Directly after its spring/summer show last night it celebrated the opening of its biggest-ever store, a seven-storey emporium on the Champs Elysées that will serve as a vast marketing tool for the brand.
Designed by the architects Peter Marino and Eric Carlson, the Art Deco flagship store features a soaring atrium and art installations by the video artist Tim White-Sobieski and the light sculptor James Turrell. When the store opens to the public on Wednesday, shoppers will travel up to the seventh-floor art gallery in a pitch-dark lift with padded walls designed by Olafur Eliasson, the Danish artist who created The Weather Project at the Tate last year.
However it is the group's monogrammed accessories that have the starring role in this fusion of art and commerce, where keyrings sell for €120 (£83) and a pair of black crocodile and solid gold sandals for €30,000. LVMH has not revealed the price tag on its new store, but will no doubt consider that, however expensive, it is an investment.
Last month the group announced operating profits of €1.09bn, with profits from the Louis Vuitton brand thought to account for 55 per cent of that.
Last night the luxury goods group feted the completion of their megastore with a gala party where the performance artist Vanessa Beecroft choreographed a cast of models who posed in formation to mimic the Louis Vuitton logo, with Winona Ryder, Sharon Stone, Bryan Ferry, Catherine Deneuve and Uma Thurman joining the fashion-week throng.
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