Alber Elbaz, the designer for Lanvin, closed the spring 2008 collections with a bang, literally. The sparklers that popped out of the carnival-like set at the end of the upbeat show, where ushers were handing out ice cream pops, weren't the only light touches. Lightness came through in the clothes too, especially the billowing, brightly colored organza cocktail dresses some covered in feathers and ruffles that streamed out on the runway as the designer took his bow to cheers and an ovation. Elbaz has an effortless, nonchalant touch that has won over the hearts of even the most resistant fashion editors. "He is not pretentious and he understands that sometimes a dress is just a dress," shrugged luxury consultant Jean Jacques Picart after the show.
Color, lightness and an artistic touch were the dominant trends at the spring shows in Paris. Nina Ricci designer Olivier Theyskens continued on his signature ethereal bent with models emerging on the runway with feathers in their hair and dripping down their slouched-on jackets, as if they walked in from the Tuileries Garden after a night romping through a field. Four strapless evening dresses in silver and white caught the wind and will certainly take flight on the red carpet as soon as awards season arrives.
For now, the award for most inventive collaboration goes to Marc Jacobs and the contemporary artist Richard Prince who lit up the Louvre and the house of Louis Vuitton with an opening lineup of 12 curvy supermodels dressed as kinky nurses, a runway riff on the artists' famous work, "Nurses." But the real panacea for this mega-brands bulging bottom line will be Jacobs' artful bags, now silk screened with multi-colored logos as an homage to Prince, who had made a special trip to Paris to see the show.
Along with artist collaborations, emerging markets seem to be a focus both on and off the runways. At Hermes, Jean Paul Gaultier gave a nod to India (the company will soon open a store in Mumbai) with gold-tipped saris in turquoise, fuchsia and marigold. And at Lanvin, although the look on the runway was distinctly French, the owners of the house are Chinese. In fact it is probably the only house in the luxury goods firmament that is owned by the Chinese the only one, at least for now.