Paris fashion week zips up, flounces, and soars to outer space

PARIS, March 4 Mon Mar 3, 2014 11:31am EST

PARIS, March 4 (Reuters) - Designers at Paris fashion week mixed spectacle and showbiz to swing the fashion spotlight away from Hollywood's Oscars, with enough zippers, fringing and space-age chic to keep the photographers busy.

Under the ornate ceiling of the Opera Garnier on Monday, British designer Stella McCartney presented sinewy zippers embroidered into parkas and sweaters in a collection with a 1970s vibe.

To a thumping soundtrack, McCartney sent models down the runway in tie-dyes, slouchy oversized wool sweaters and zippers whose interlocking teeth undulated up the sides of garments.

But the designer seemed to lose her way with some downright dowdy colour combinations, made more jarring by the beauty of the gilt Belle Epoque venue.

The orange-red and russet on a sweater-skirt combo recalled upholstery from a motel, while a blue Japanese-inspired pant suit with obi sash and stirrup trousers puzzled.

But Stella got her groove back for the finale, showing a splendid hooded black coat with an elegant sheen and generous lapel, and a series of nightclub-ready dresses cut high on the thigh that draped fringing down bodices for maximum impact.

Stella McCartney is partially owned by Kering.

STARS AMONG THE STARS

After taking inspiration from butterflies in his January haute couture show, Jean Paul Gaultier on Saturday flew past them into the stratosphere.

Titled "Brits in Space", his show featured a runway that resembled an airplane aisle and models who "checked-in". Gaultier used tubing, zippers, shiny fabric and many British Union Jack flags in a collection that was high on the French designer's signature theatrics but low on cohesion.

With modernistic tubing formed into hoodies, shimmering silver jump suits, cosmonaut-type collars and vertical hair knots that evoked some kind of alien sex toy, the show was "an invitation to travel in space and look into the future", the French designer said after the show.

But the astronauts must have taken the wrong turn in space, as the show seemed to end up in London's Carnaby Street, with striped low-slung black and white pants, tartan prints, mohawk hairstyles and all manner of random Union Jacks.

Gaultier is owned by the private Spanish group Puig.

Fashion amid the stars found another taker in Maxime Simoens, part of the LVMH fashion stable since last year, with black and white dresses embroidered with shiny pearls and crystals that would have felt at home in the Milky Way.

The 29-year-old designer used reflective silver or black metallic squares at his show on Sunday to line shoes, boots, belts and collars.

Backstage, even the models' instructions aimed high: "Walk slowly, quiet face, weightless, touch the sky, stars among the stars."

Globally, designer ready-to-wear is an 85-billion-euro business, according to Euromonitor. (Additional reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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