Beyoncé and J-Lo’s designers cap Paris couture

THOMAS ADAMSON
AP Fashion Writer

PARIS (AP) — They’re fashion newcomers — but already have star clients like Beyoncé, Angelina Jolie, Kristen Stewart and Jennifer Lopez.

Not bad for “up-and-coming” houses Ralph & Russo and Zuhair Murad — part of a new wave of business-minded couture designers — whose shows capped fall-winter 2014-15 shows Thursday.

Here are the highlights of the end of couture week, including why Kate Winslet defends aging, and why couture can be cruel to models.

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RALPH & RUSSO

They’ve certainly hit the ground running.

With the finesse of a heritage house, in only her second show, designer Tamara Ralph’s produced an archetypal couture display.

Gowns in duchess satin, silk gazar, crepe and chiffon sported hip-centric silhouettes — mostly sweeping the floor or cut to mid-calf.

The show played it safe with crystal embellishments which were nothing new or inventive — but the 36-piece collection still packed a creative punch.

There were a couple of 50s off-shoulder ball gowns in black and white gazar and tulle with stiff wire round the hem. It blew the ripples in the gowns’ skirt into giant abstract hoops.

Elsewhere, asymmetrical gowns in sumptuous black and white silk twill had opposing directions of movement — and produced a kinetic energy.

The outgoing French fashion federation president Didier Grumbach has said: “We expect savoir-faire, which is being lost, and Ralph & Russo have it.”

With clients like Jolie and Beyoncé, it’s clear Grumbach is not the only one who thinks so.

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HAUTE CRUELTY

Haute couture is beautiful, but it can be cruel.

6 foot-plus models in plunging silk silhouettes often find it hard to walk properly, since the sumptuous yet unhuman lengths of fabric catch their heels.

Guests were at the edge of their seats at Zuhair Murad’s show when several models tripped and nearly fell in front of the paparazzi. The silk chiffon and crepe that fluttered by strangled their ankles.

At Ralph & Russo, one stumbling model had to kick out underneath her tulle dress for several moments to stop herself falling as the material got wrapped around her feet.

But the worst example this week was from Jean Paul Gaultier.

A model who opened his Wednesday show struggled in 6 inch-heels, falling down flat four times to gasps from the audience. Eventually she had to have the heels removed by an usher as she squirmed on the floor so she could descend from the catwalk.

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ZUHAIR MURAD’S FUTURISM

The Lebanese designer who dressed J-Lo produced a typically glam collection with sparking beadwork.

This season, elements of deco-futurism infused the cinched-waisted silhouettes (reminiscent of fellow Lebanese designer Elie Saab) in crepe, satin and Mikado.

Rippled geometric lines appeared in strapless hourglass ball-gowns in gazar.

Flashes of skin and skin-colored tulle provided obligatory sexiness. Some of the futurist details, like “white moon” embroidery, came in streaks of fabric at times lacked subtlety.

But subtlety is not what the red carpet is all about.

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KATE WINSLET CHAMPIONS AGING

Oscar-winner Kate Winslet flew into Paris for a party Wednesday night to celebrate makeup line Lancome’s Nouvelle Vague project.

The curvy 38-year-old Winslet — Lancome’s ambassador — has been praised throughout her career for sending out a natural image of feminine beauty.

“(Lancome) don’t try and suggest that aging is a bad thing, you know, and I’m so grateful for that,” she told The Associated Press, looking radiant in a figure-hugging soft blue-purple gown with strong shoulders and slits.

“We live in a world now where young women are so familiar with hearing people say, ‘Well, your skin’s good now darling but wait until you’re thirty…’ Aging so far is really fun,” she added.

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DIOR JEWELLRY AS ARCHITECTURE, BOUCHERON TRAVELS THE WORLD

The fine jewelry world’s annual dazzling collections are unveiled on the last day of haute couture fall-winter shows each year.

Dior’s sparkling collection at 30 avenue Montaigne Thursday cleverly reinterpreted and transposed into jewelry designs original dresses from the late Christian Dior himself.

Miniature mannequins lined the walls in gowns that date from the late 1940s — and next to them the 21 one-of-a-kind pieces they inspired.

Using the four primary jewels — white diamond, blue sapphire, red ruby and green emerald — Dior designer Victoire de Castellane reimagined iconic designs such as the architectural Bar Jacket as a bracelet in white gold and orangy-pink spinels. The most expensive piece was priced at up to 2.3 million euro ($3.13 million).

Not far away, in the Place Vendome, iconic jewelers Boucheron also celebrated their heritage.

But this time they went on a voyage, tracing the 150-year path of the Boucheron family’s historic links across Russia, China, Japan, Iran and India.

One section, inspired by the jewels Boucheron made for Russia’s Romanovs — family of the czars — included a beautiful curved white gold necklace with white diamonds to represent the Moscow snow. They too were extravagantly priced — with one necklace at 2.8 million euros ($3.81 million).

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Thomas Adamson can be followed at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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