Plenty of fashion labels can be hot at one time. But only one can be the hottest. And yesterday in Paris, Balmain, one of the most influential labels of the season, made that leap. The show gave its audience a proper funny Fashion Moment too. And we haven't had one of those for ages! Here's how it unfolded....
The Venue: The famous 19th century Salon Impériale at the Hotel Westin. Getting in is a mad crush of ticket waving people, but once inside this vast space the stress evaporates. With walls and ceilings crowded with Renaissance style frescos, ornate gilded pillars and plush red carpet and draperies, this beautiful venue is uniquely Paris.
The people: The world's hippest fashion editors are out in force. French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld and her daughter swoosh in. Actresses Mila Jovovich and Emmanuelle Beart slouch on the front row looking sexy-cool in that dishevelled Parisian way.
The mood: At 5.30pm the show is running 30 minutes late, and the tension/expectation radiating from the audience is electric! Will Balmain designer Christophe Decarnin deliver another winner for S/S ‘09? Here's hoping...
The funny moment: A spontaneous group whoop erupts as the first beats of Madonna's Get Into The Groove burst from speakers. Huh? Eyes swivel expecting to scan the first model. No model emerges. This is funny enough to cause a ripple of laughter - were we THAT excited about Balmain that we cheered a Madonna intro? Doh! The mood in the room lightens up as the show begins...
The Key Looks
A Sergeant Pepper jacket with a difference - it looks like a tennis ball has been stuffed in each shoulder to create rounded peaks; it's cut asymmetric like a biker jacket and the frogging (stitching) is replaced with thick bands of crystal. He paired it with skinny pale blue jeans ripped at the knee and fierce studded strappy sandals. This combo is our everyday style, served back to us with bells on. Decarnin kept the same mix in the same shape coming, just changing fabrics. Denim came pale, dip-dyed, shredded. Jackets were beaded, sequined, jewelled or studded. If there was a woman in the room who didn't want one of those jackets, she would be fibbing. Love!
A strapless mini-dress and high heels. The dresses come either tight-fit and hitting the upper thigh in bright jewel shades of emerald or amethyst . Or fit and flare in black or white with skirts of bouncing layers of silk and tulle. Great legs a must.
The verdict: A HIT. Balmain is gorgeous, glamorous, and fun. Its not experimental or conceptual - the designer told us Madonna's Desperately Seeking Susan phase in 1985 got his creative juices flowing for heaven's sake! But Balmain is genius because the clothes are simple in shape and as familiar as your own wardrobe staples for day and especially for night. But up close the technically complex draping, wrapping, and beading in the dresses, and the bejewlled jackets are as exquisitely made as couture. As if you needed more evidence that Balmain is the hottest of the hot at this very moment.
- Melanie Rickey