Ball gowns that evoked the memorably romantic straw-embroidered organza frock that Dior made for Britain’s lovely Princess Margaret to wear for her twenty-first birthday in 1951. Then it was back to Peru (via Margot Fonteyn,
I another star Dior client), as ballerinas en pointe spun through the gardens to the stirring sound track of The I Mission, in costumes inspired by the flamboyantly clad saints in seventeenth-century Cuzco School paintings.
Hile Galliano tapped his richest vein of exuberance and giddy fantasy at Dior, Karl Lagerfeld’s brilliant vision for Chanel was more subtly revealed. Where Galliano offered couture as fantasy, Lagerfeld presented it as reality albeit for a woman with a fantastical fashion budget and a taste for, as he calls it, hidden luxury.”
In the audience, fantasy was represented by the prestigious Turner Prize-winning British sculptor and conceptual artist Grayson Perry, dressed as his alter ego, Claire, in an Alice in Wonderland dress, blonde bangs, and a candy-pink hair bow and matching ankle socks. Perry, covering the collections for Spoon magazine, was dressed by the fashion students of Saint Martins for his couture week. Couture reality, meanwhile, was personified by Gwyneth Paltrow, wearing her Chanel tweed jacket with white jeans and gilded flip-flops.
The setting was a stage of concentric white circles, stacked like a modernist wedding cake and mirrored in the design of the vast lighting fixture that shone from above. Onto this podium marched 50 models in swift martial order, to take their places on the stands like a formation of Busby Berkeley dancers. Capturing the dark, fairy-tale world of Tim Burton, Lagerfeld dressed his lovely sorceresses in dramatic black coats, from sweeping, floor-length black cloaks and capes to shiny patent raincoats with a Mod flavor.
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