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PARIS – Some of Hollywood's most sought-after actresses flew into Paris for a glimpse of the new chapter of the storied fashion house of Givenchy.
The debut show by designer Clare Waight Keller, one of the hottest tickets at Paris Fashion Week this season, drew Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Julianne Moore. All marveled at its seductive monochrome and flashes of color, applauding from the front row.
Here are some highlights of Sunday's spring-summer ready-to-wear shows.
GIVENCHY'S NEW CHAPTER
In a season of debuts, Givenchy's was surely the crowning show.
In a testament to its continuing prestige, the Parisian house was granted rare permission to hold its spring-summer show Sunday inside the secretive stone walls of the Palace of Justice, the former royal palace on the Seine River where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned before the guillotine.
The palace's grand stone steps were wrapped for the occasion in a regal wrought iron shell — with "GIVENCHY" glimmering in gold above a gate.
Inside, celebrities and fashion critics held court. Film maker Pedro Almodovor, whose white Givenchy shoes matched his bright white hair, chatted animatedly with Moore, who matched in a stylish white tuxedo. Blanchett and Mara, both dressed head to toe in black, applauded vigorously as the collection's 68 pieces went by.
"I'm very excited," Mara said.
"It was extraordinary... The sleeves, and the fabrics, and the subtle use of color," Blanchett said. "I'm excited for women and I'm really excited for Givenchy ... She's just taken it to a whole new level."
WAIGHT KELLER DEBUT AT GIVENCHY
In a hand-written note signed "Clare," Givenchy's new designer gave guests some hints at her styling.
"Seduction is key. The most seductive things are not seen, but merely imagined," she wrote.
This subtle yet powerful mantra was used with grace by the British designer who created a collection of fluttery, sensual gowns that moved the once-dark, brooding house into distinctly more feminine terrain.
Black and white were the touchstones as the display began with a printed silk dress with frothy panels around the shoulder and the leg. A blurry three-leaf clover motif shifted sizes. The visual confusion captured perfectly this sense of seduction, as it did away with the body contours beneath and left the spectator guessing.
In another stylish printed gown, a shoulder was exposed with uneven segments of silk gently cascading down the body. In a midnight blue peaked shoulder coat, color was introduced with a sexy, sheer décolleté and a 70s jabot collar.
For men, a shimmering metallic tuxedo led the looks that signaled that Waight Keller aims to lead the house in a saleable, more classical direction.
THE EVER-CREATIVE CELINE
It was the suit, but not as you know it. Celine's ever-imaginative designer Phoebe Philo was at the top of her game Sunday in a collection that took the everyday sartorial styles of London's Saville Row and abstracted them.
A laurel green suit suddenly lost its buttons, lapels and fit — and hung loosely in a minimalist style from a model with a man's hair style.
Suit pants in battleship gray were fashioned so baggy they lost the model underneath. A sage coat inspired by a trench coat had 3-meter (9-foot) tubular arms that hooped round at the bottom.
Elsewhere, oversize waistcoats hung asymmetrically down with a surreal, flat minimalist front and cascading undergarments that added a visual kinesis. Voluminous black leather wading-boot-heels gave the look a inimitable trendy feel.
Theatrical peplums, dropped white fringe skirts and rippling stripes, which appeared as the show progressed, distracted slightly from the abstract musing. But the Celine show was one of the most creative displays seen this season.
NO CAR DAY: SOUND FOR ECOLOGY, HEADACHE FOR FASHION WEEK
Paris wants to reduce pollution by banning cars across the city Sunday from 11am to 6pm.
The move is great for air pollution but a strain as fashion houses tried to put their collections on display. Worried fashion houses like Valentino have sent out myriad email reminders to car-driven guests to organize alternative transport.
The car ban, the city's third event under Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, has been an issue for fashion organizers that rely on trucks to install and remove the lavish, sky's-the-limit shows. But the Paris couture federation, which supports the initiative, has spent months organizing with police and local authorities to ensure events run smoothly.
Paris has struggled recently with the highest levels of air pollution of any European capital.