Rain, art and winter wonderlands at Paris Fashion Week

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A model wears a creation for the Valentino fashion collection during Women’s fashion week Fall/Winter 2020/21 presented in Paris, Sunday, March 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

PARIS (AP) — Haunting music greeted drizzled-on VIP guests, including singer Janelle Monáe, who braved torrential rains in Paris to get to Valentino’s experimental fashion show near the Invalides monument on Sunday. At Issey Miyake, a lone artist strode out to create an artistic installation on a vast white sheet of wall paper that had guests reaching for their cameras. Here are some highlights of the fall-winter 2020 ready-to-wear shows at Paris Fashion Week.

VALENTINO EXPERIMENTS WITH SUBTLE KINK

Valentino’s designer Pierpaolo Piccioli has been in an experimental mood of late.

In Sunday’s ready-to-wear show at Paris Fashion Week, this was more than apparent as the Italian-born designer dramatically departed from the house’s oft-angelic signature designs. It was a nice change. In the place of purity this season was subtle kink.

See-through black mesh gowns followed sheeny thigh-high black leather boots, while split-leg bustier gowns bore inches of flesh and some visible nipples.

Even the Renaissance-style capes, a Valentino touchstone for ages, were crafted for this fall in a provocative sheeny black on a model with dark eye make-up, stomping black wedge boots and long blood-red leather gloves. This angel had fallen from heaven long ago, the show seemed to say.

Aside from the kinky elements, there were lots great fashion-forward plays on shape. A black scarf insert fell off the back of one shoulder with an off-kilter air, like the single fallen wing of a dark angel.

ISSEY MIYAKE’S VISUAL POETRY

With a black felt-tip pen at the start of Issey Miyake’s Paris fashion show, an artist sketched out a human shape on a paper sheet with speed and impressive precision. Then, to gasps from the audience, that shape — and others next to it — were cut out.

As sections of paper fell to the ground, models appeared from behind the holes.

It was an imaginative start to designer Satoshi Kondo’s fall show, which began with a geometric series that riffed on this idea of thick lines cut out on clothes. All sorts of shapes and square sections flickered out. The collection soon expanded into bright hues — with sheeny silk fabrics, weaves in extra-fine nylon yarn and colorful knits.

Several busy jazzy prints — one in particular in apricot — seemed a little unnecessary and distracted from the beautiful shapes in the designs. But Kondo made up for it with a deft play in form using the codes of the Japanese maison.

Silk dresses curved back around at the bottom — like a sort of parachute sleeve — and formed a cape-hybrid. It filled with air as the models walked, and in the beautiful motion, it seemed as if the models might take flight.

CHANEL TO LIVE-STREAM

Luxury French brand Chanel said in addition to hosting its Paris Fashion Week show Tuesday, it will live-stream it on all of the storied house’s social media platforms and its website, due to the new coronavirus outbreak.

Editors, such as those from China, who have not traveled to Paris or others in the industry who have anxiety over possibly contracting COVID-19 can thus see the display.

France has banned all indoor public gatherings of more than 5,000 people to slow its snowballing spread of virus cases and recommending that people no longer greet each other with kisses. At Paris Fashion Week, this has created a new form of greeting — the elbow touch. The number of French virus cases almost doubled to 100 over the weekend, including two deaths.

Chanel’s U.S. office staff will not be in Paris for the show, owing to fears over the virus.

THOM BROWNE’S GENDER-FLUID PINSTRIPES

The pinstripe-suited and gender-fluid designs of inventive U.S. designer Thom Browne were shown again this season in a winter wonderland snowscape where spring was a frozen garden, fall was a white wood.

Models, in twos, passed through large wooden doors in the center of the runway — evoking the magical furniture in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia chronicle “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

Indeed, animal masks — such as a horse and a rhino — appeared on some models, who also had handbags in the form of a dog and other creatures. The models wore unusual black mesh headgear that shrouded the eyes.

Fashion-wise, the wacky designs meshed multicolored stripes and the occasional lozenge-shaped argyll check, often in socks, in intentionally divergent styles. One blown-up check plaid in Yankees blue was inserted unexpectedly as the sleeves of a striped coat, above a gray skirt and white-laced snow boots.

Corset-style items and large bows on the hip — almost celebrating a Christmas gift — added to Browne’s magical eccentricity.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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