PARIS: It was back to the future on the Paris catwalks on Tuesday as Chanel cleverly tweaked its back catalogue only for Saint Laurent to revive a look that some thought best forgotten.
In what could be his last show for the label, designer Hedi Slimane—the man credited with the skinny black jeans look and making grunge glam—was judged to have given the brand “the finger” by parodying its founder Yves Saint Laurent’s least glorious period.
The hugely influential Women’s Wear Daily was scathing about his collection, which went hell for shiny snakeskin leather for late 1980s vamp, claiming it was drawing on a time when “Yves Saint Laurent was well past his creative prime.”
Slimane sent out a succession of very short one-shouldered dresses with gigantic bows, belts and black angel or bat wings that would not have looked out of place in “Miami Vice.”
Their full-throttle glamour had some style editors shifting awkwardly in their chairs, each of which carried a brass plate onto which their names had been engraved.
There was no such controversy at Chanel, where designer Karl Lagerfeld, who was only hitting his stride in the 1980s, continued his modernizing riff on the brand’s core looks, with lots of boucle wool jackets, coats and skirts, piles of pearls and big necklaces.
The Kaiser, as Lagerfeld is known, created an old-fashioned couture salon inside the French capital’s Grand Palais.
His models strode down the aisles in front of stars that included singer Pharrell Williams in riding hats.
While Coco Chanel loved to sport a boater, Lagerfeld told AFP that the hats were “something you could nearly wear on your bike and on your motorbike because they can protect you.
“They are quite tough… but at the same time they have a frivolous note with a piece of jewellery of a flower there,” he added.
A strong equestrian theme ran right through the collection with the hats decorated with rosettes and black riding boots open at the ankles.
Despite the set evoking the nostalgia of an old couture show, Lagerfeld, 82, said there was nothing old-school about his clothes.
“These dresses are not old couture, the collection has a more street attitude,” he insisted.
The models were not tottering in high heels he said, because these clothes “were made for walking, like Nancy Sinatra’s song”—”These Boots Are Made For Walking.”
French designer Agnes b celebrated her 40 years in the business with a typically timeless and elegant collection that reflected women’s fashion over decades, starting with a billowy white 1940s style silk skirt ensemble.
And in a witty final twist to mark International Women’s Day, she sent two modern brides down the runway, one in a white catsuit and veil and in the other in a silver wool-trimmed bomber jacket, before the models held up letters reading “Vive les femmes!”.