PARIS (AP) — In a bold departure from the somber farewells often seen in fashion, designer Gabriela Hearst literally danced her way out of Chloé at her final show Thursday, radiating pure, unapologetic joy. Rather than poignant goodbyes, Hearst opted for lively samba beats, prompting tears of endearment from onlookers as she lithely pirouetted past guests carefree alongside one of Brazil's most reputed Samba schools. It wasn’t just about an exit; it was a celebration. And as the curtains drew on her Chloé chapter, Hearst’s pioneering green legacy remained in sharp focus.
Delving into the Spring-Summer 2024 ready-to-wear collections, here are Thursday's highlights, including when AP caught up with Cher at Givenchy:
HEARST’S SWAN SONG
Hearst bid adieu to Chloé in spectacular style. On Thursday, her final bow with the house celebrated nature-infused sportiness, weaving in her unmistakable touch of minimalism.
Kicking off with a bright white, one-shouldered gown, ruffled in tight tiers, Hearst channeled the spirit of a tennis playing mermaid. The look was an ode to her mastery in blending freshness with restraint.
Hearst’s play on femininity took us on a journey of texture and form in refined botanical-inspired silhouettes. Employing geometric ruching on exaggerated shoulders, she showcased surreal tubular shapes reminiscent of the enveloping flowers of the calla lily. The drama heightened with pants, cinched at the waist by a stark black rope.
The shimmering silver dress, poised for the disco, with its round historical sleeves and a stiff skirt, whispered of her affinity for pared-back elegance and the beauty found in the details of plants and flowers.
For colors, Hearst leaned into an on-trend monochrome palette, infiltrating the Chloé aesthetic with bursts of marigold, coral, and silver. From ethereal white lace boho dresses to a stark black and white Pierrot bustier creation, each piece was a culmination of her vision of timeless femininity, echoing the radiant essence of nature in every stitch.
HEARST’S GREEN LEGACY
As the fashion world saw off Hearst’s chapter at Chloé, the applause wasn’t just for her designs but also for her pioneering green vision. Marking her final bow, Hearst didn’t just offer Chloé a creative facelift, she set it on an eco-conscious path less traveled by luxury brands.
In her brief yet monumental stint, Hearst infused Chloé with a duality of her Uruguayan-American heritage, delving deep into what femininity truly signifies in this age. But it wasn’t just about designs. Under her helm, Chloé transformed into a beacon of sustainability. Earning the first B Corp certification among European luxury brands, Hearst introduced forward-thinking solutions: eco-responsible materials, a revolutionary resale strategy, and climate-conscious collections.
From her keen understanding of femininity, as seen in her juxtaposition of softness and protectiveness, to her tribute to feminist icons like Artemisia Gentileschi, Hearst’s Chloé creative journey was memorable, despite sometimes receiving lukewarm critical receptions. Yet it was her commitment to sustainability that truly set her apart. A tale of joy, resilience, and responsibility, Hearst’s legacy at Chloé will be remembered not just for its aesthetic appeal but for its dedication to the planet.
CHER’S ENTRANCE AT GIVENCHY CREATES WAVES
The cobbles of the historic École Militaire echoed with the buzz of admiration, as Cher, 77, made her way into the Givenchy show. The sight of the music legend, accompanied by her boyfriend AE Edwards, 37, incited a commotion of screams and cheers from fans, an ode to her enduring influence.
“I love Paris! I met my boyfriend here last year, so it’s our anniversary,” she said from the front row smiling with a youthful allure, before chatting with fellow guest Sigourney Weaver. After attending Balmain's show Wednesday night, Cher expressed surprise about the show of affection in Paris: “Of course I’m happy, but I wasn’t expecting it.”
Discussing her music, Cher shared a touch of sincerity — and deadpan humor. She said she was “excited” about the upcoming release of a Christmas album, despite the fact that “I’m not a Cher fan!,” adding ”It is not your mother’s Christmas album.”
GIVENCHY’S NEW DIRECTION: INTIMACY MEETS MODERNITY
Another season, another change in aesthetic at Givenchy. In a marked departure from previous displays, Matthew Williams’ latest show — a skillful display — delved into the intimate. It invited the viewer closer, with every fabric, cut, and color choice. Skirts and dresses, asymmetrical in their design, fluttered diaphanously, balancing between revelation and concealment.
Flowers played a subtle role amid delicate patterns and motifs. “When you look at the common denominators of elegance, the flower is inescapable," Williams told AP. "I thought it was interesting to develop a floral language in a way that reflected both the Maison’s archives and myself ... It’s no wonder that painters have historically been drawn to the colors and formations of nature. It epitomizes the idea of timeless, universal elegance.”
Lace made a reappearance, enhancing some outfits with a vintage allure. Particularly innovative were garments that appeared to merge half-hidden jewelry inside. Moreover, the ancient technique of treating silk added depth and texture to a few pieces, fusing past and present.
Yet, the essence of intimacy didn’t stop there. It extended to even the finest details, notably heels covered in a silken suspender fabric in a fashion forward spin. This design playfulness was further heightened by bands encircling the bust and arm, suggesting an imprisonment of the model within her attire.
The color palette was soft, with pastels taking center stage. Yellows, blues, whites, beiges, and browns sometimes intersected in intentional clashes, creating a palpable tension throughout.
Highlights included broad-shouldered coats, especially one in a striking shade of yellow. The craftsmanship was evident in the construction of broad, boxy charcoal coats, a testament to Givenchy’s couture atelier. However, the varying nature of Williams’ recent displays raises questions about the Givenchy brand identity, and what its aesthetic represents.
RICK OWENS: FROM BJÖRK’S JOY TO GOTHIC ELEGANCE
As Paris Fashion Week unfolded at the Palais de Tokyo, Rick Owens, the designer synonymous with a mystical gothic aesthetic, presented a journey not just of fashion but also of his own internal reflections. Recently being touched by Björk’s joyful optimism while attending her concert, it left him questioning his habitual moody outlook, particularly in the face of world events like the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Yet, as the haunting shades of “drama queen” black, gentle gray, tender pink, and exultant red flowed down the runway, it was clear that Owens’ introspection did not water down his signature style. If anything, the designs remained as bewitching as ever. The darkly vibe was palpable — a gloomy but elegant answer to a world caught in tumult.
High-waisted skirts and trousers in structured leather or overdyed denim paired seamlessly with jersey or sumptuous leather tops that seemed to caress and mold the upper torso. The designs, enriched by organic cottons and handcrafted leather stoles, celebrated their Italian origins and spoke to Owens’ commitment to sustainability.
Despite his self-confessed resignation, there was a beacon of hope in the collection. Diana Ross’ anthem “I Still Believe in Love” echoed throughout the venue. Its repeated refrain, allowed exclusively for Owens, underscored his complex interplay between a cautious optimism and a deep-rooted empathy for a troubled world.
The fashion maestro, while touched by Björk’s infectious spirit, stayed true to his essence. For many in the audience, it was a reassuring constant amid an ever-changing world.
Thomas Adamson, The Associated Press