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Balmain recovers in shiny, flowery style from Paris robbery

French label Balmain managed to pull together a very shiny and exuberant show at Paris Fashion Week on despite the dramatic robbery.

Balmain had to rush to put together a collection after a robbery 10 days earlier
Balmain had to rush to put together a collection after a robbery 10 days earlier - Copyright AFP Nalini LEPETIT-CHELLA, Paz PIZARRO, Sylvie HUSSON
Balmain had to rush to put together a collection after a robbery 10 days earlier - Copyright AFP Nalini LEPETIT-CHELLA, Paz PIZARRO, Sylvie HUSSON
Eric RANDOLPH

French label Balmain managed to pull together a very shiny and exuberant show at Paris Fashion Week on Wednesday despite the dramatic robbery that saw dozens of its outfits stolen just 10 days earlier.

The fashion world loves drama but normally it doesn’t involve violent heists, so there was outsized attention as Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing rushed to prepare his spring-summer 2024 collection.

Rousteing announced on September 17 that a driver had been “hijacked” on the way from a Paris airport to the brand’s headquarters by a gang of thieves who stole 50 outfits.

But there was little sign of the panic behind the scenes as the models took to the runway late Wednesday for a show full of unabashed primary colours, shiny vinyl-style materials and elaborate flower arrangements.

Even by fashion standards, the models were extremely thin, tottering on razor-sharp heels.

There were lots of roses — a woman seemingly lost in an entire red bush of them, another with a swoosh of golden feathers with roses on the tips, and a range of rose-print tops, dresses and mini-skirts.

There were more demure smoking jackets and little black dresses, and a selection of polka-dot outfits, before returning to ultra-bling glittering flower concoctions that verged on haute couture extravagance.

“Florals for spring? Groundbreaking…” Rousteing wrote with apparent irony on Instagram.

– Dior, Saint Laurent –

Paris Fashion Week kicked off on Monday and runs to October 3, with 107 brands in the official lineup.

Highlights so far have included two big names offering contrasting versions of feminism — always a good selling-point at fashion week — with Christian Dior mocking sexist stereotypes while Saint Laurent was inspired by female pioneers.

Dior designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, who recently dressed Queen Camilla for her state dinner at Versailles, offered a largely monochrome affair with comfortable, breezy items alongside straight masculine jackets, pleated skirts and plenty of knitwear.

But the walls were bright pink and yellow, and plastered in mock sexist slogans from old adverts, such as “Save your marriage — iron properly”.

Saint Laurent held a typically opulent nighttime show under the Eiffel Tower with safari-style jumpsuits and cargo trousers, inspired, according to creative director Anthony Vaccarello, by aviation pioneers Amelia Earhart and Adrienne Bolland.

In a palette of burnished gold, ochre and maroon, there was plenty of 1980s glamour with big shoulders, tightly belted waists and aviator shades — even adding the Top Gun theme song “Take My Breath Away” to the soundtrack.

Pierre Cardin, which returned this year for the first time in a quarter-century, had a show full of retro space-age outfits that harked back to its glory days.

But the relatives of Cardin, who died in 2020, are tearing each other apart in court over the inheritance.

“If the brand is sold, it will be the end of the house. I am confident the court decisions will ensure continuity,” current boss Rodrigo Basilicati-Cardin said backstage.

An even more exuberantly surreal display came courtesy of Germanier, with spectacularly colourful, feathered creations.

Coming later this week are final shows for two big-name designers.

Gabriela Hearst is leaving Chloe after fewer than three years. Her focus on sustainable fashion was critically acclaimed but did not bring a major boost to sales.

It will also be the last show for Sarah Burton, who took over at Alexander McQueen following the founder’s suicide in 2010.

AFP
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