Paris Fashion Week: Chanel doubles down on tweeds; McCartney, Balenciaga nod to Ukraine crisis

PARIS — Chanel took to a tweed-lined stage on Tuesday last week for its fall collection, sending models filing through a dark, carpeted runway clad in the French fashion house’s trademark skirt and jacket ensembles, shimmery dresses and belted overcoats.

The catwalk presentation took place on the last day of Paris Fashion Week, wrapping up a string of industry shows held also in New York, London, and Milan. (See the show here: https://www.chanel.com/us/fashion/collection/fall-winter-2022-23/ )

Chanel creative director Virginie Viard wove patches of bright colors — pink, turquoise and purple — into the autumn-toned lineup, accessorizing looks with thick thigh-high stockings, striking wader boots and the label’s famous chain strap handbags, some in mini sizes.

Reflecting the somber mood caused by the war in Ukraine, the Beatles song “A Day in the Life” was played as models in school-girl hair styles sashayed past the celebrity-stacked front row, parading looks ranging from smart to slouchy, a few with bare shoulders.

Chanel had said earlier that it would suspend business in Russia, along with rivals LVMH, Hermes, and Gucci-owner Kering.

STELLA MCCARTNEY NODS TO UKRAINE CRISIS
In a nod to the war in Ukraine, Stella McCartney closed her namesake label’s winter catwalk show to the music of John Lennon’s anti-war ballad “Give Peace a Chance.” (See the show here: https://www.stellamccartney.com/us/en/ )

Models wound around glass-encased corridors atop the Pompidou Center, parading sleek, bohemian-flavored dresses with pockets and slit balloon sleeves while the rhythmic music played, with sweeping views of Paris as a backdrop.

“I believe very firmly in peace and love and obviously to use John’s song, who was my dad’s best friend… it just shows for me, it’s a personal song that reflects the whole world’s thoughts, I hope, right now,” Ms. McCartney told reporters after the show, referring to her father, Paul McCartney.

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Some fashion designers have spoken publicly about their struggle to find the right tone for their shows and make the decision to carry on with Paris Fashion Week events while the world is focused on the Ukraine crisis.

BALENCIAGA’S GVASALIA THROWS SPOTLIGHT ON UKRAINE
Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia threw the spotlight on the war in Ukraine, recalling his personal trauma as a refugee from Georgia at his winter show in Paris. (See the show here: https://www.balenciaga.com/en-en/winter-22)

Guests were greeted with Ukrainian flag T-shirts and a note explaining that the war had triggered the pain of trauma the designer had carried since 1993, when “the same thing happened in my home country and I became a forever refugee.”

“We, as a brand, have to do something … we cannot take weapons and go fight there, but we can use our voices,” Mr. Gvasalia told Reuters in an interview after the Paris Fashion Week presentation.

His show featured models marching through a blustery, glass-encased runway with swirling snow.

It kicked off with a woman in a black cape-like dress, swinging a sac resembling a stuffed plastic garbage bag. Others followed, walking against the wind in wide-leg trousers, oversize hoodies and floral-printed outfits.

An influential designer, Mr. Gvasalia played a central role in the rise of streetwear styles and is known for powerful runway presentations.

The designer said he had spent two years in Ukraine after the war in Georgia, where he still has family, before settling in Germany. Georgia, a former republic in the Soviet Union, was plunged into civil war after the break up of the bloc in 1991.

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“When you go through war, you never forget that,” said the designer, whose native language is Russian.

Earlier, the Kering-owned label erased all images from its Instagram feed, which counts 12.8 million followers, leaving only an image of the Ukrainian flag, explaining that the platform would be used solely for relaying information about the situation in Ukraine. — Reuters

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