Godfrey Deeny on the return of the distant fashion show

It wasn’t until a towering tenor began to sing”Bésame Mucho” at Christian Dior’s private party to the immense applause of the beautiful Andalusian nobility and Dior-dressed influencers in the fabulous gardens of the Alcázar, while I was downing a pineapple and chilli margarita, I realized that life in fashion he was finally returning to normal.

DIOR he only invited 300 VIPs to his garden soiree inside the Alcázar of Seville. One of Spain’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting over 1.8 million visitors a year, it has more recently risen to fame as the Water Gardens of Dorne in game of Thrones.

Scores of gallant young men in properly angled flat-brimmed hats escorted us through 13th-century Moorish tiled courtyards and domes, past Renaissance apartments and hidden musicians in alcoves playing medieval music; where Jaime de Marichalar – ex-husband of Spain’s Infanta Elena and board member of Dior’s owner, LVMH – posed with María de León Castillejo, Spain’s coolest influencer.

A magical night” giggled María, clad in a brilliantly embroidered Dior flamenco slip dress. “You know, I got married in the cathedral of Seville and our reception was right in this garden. I remember Prince Charles telling me then that Windsor was the oldest royal palace in the world, 900 years old. And I said, ‘Are you kidding? This place has been here since the eighth century!’” laughed Jaime, the lord of Tejada and a former pupil of the Yago School of Spanish in Dublin.

The following evening, Dior creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri staged a truly epic cruise collection. Flamenco fantasy met French elegance, with 60 frenzied dancers by Blanca Li, a 30-piece orchestra conducted by Alberto Iglesias playing soundtracks to films he composed for Pedro Almodóvar, and over 100 models marching on decks buildings of the grandiose Plaza de España in Seville.

Equestrian chic, Andalusian attitude and multiple references to the Madonna protagonists of a sacred but sensual show staged on the day of the Corpus Christi inauguration. Known as a feminist designer, Maria Grazia’s inspiration was Carmen Amaya, the first female flamenco star to dress as a man. On display are large riding jackets, flamenco shorts, perforated leather skirts and jackets or lace blouses with Baroque architectural shapes. Blanca Li’s dancers serenaded Maria Grazia as she received a standing ovation, led by Elle Macpherson, Laetitia Casta and Charithra Chandran, one of the stars of Season 2 of Bridgerton.

Finally I was back to work. The lockdown has been a very long one in fashion – four full seasons, which in our world feels like a century. But this year, major brands have launched extravaganzas across the continent: Gucci in a medieval castle in Puglia, Valentino in Rome’s Spanish Steps, and Max Mara inside Lisbon’s largest art collection, the Gulbenkian Foundation. .

Our fashion tour started with CHANEL‘S Gran Prix- Chic show staged at the Monaco Beach Club. Models strutted down the sandy beach in mechanic’s overalls in red and white checked or gray and black gingham wool bouclé, topped with logo emblazoned trucker caps of the double C. Chanel couturier Virginie Viard even dressed a chauffeur’s girlfriend in a bouclé jacket and metallic silk trousers done in the honey-gold hue of perfume no.

Tilda Swinton, Charlotte Casiraghi and Kristen Stewart in a metallic check sheath embraced Viard backstage at the show, the terrace of an Olympic-sized swimming pool, located below Villa La Vigie, Karl Lagerfeld’s former seaside home and venue for the post-show evening by Chanel. “Great to be back in a house where I’ve always loved to party!” wowed Nile Rodgers in a surprise performance in which Princess Caroline of Monaco, Sofia Coppola and G-Dragon danced to the tune of “Le Freak”, “Good Times” and “Inside Out”.

Note to male partners: Fashion plate G-Dragon dressed in endless pearl necklaces, gold bracelets and matching powder blue cardigan and iPhone case for Chanel. Sandwiched between the cruise shows were the Italian and French menswear seasons, with a much more minimalist vibe in Milan, where a then 87-year-old GIORGIO ARMANI had a stellar show of deconstructed tailoring, including crisp gray linen Mao jackets, a flint-colored Nehru jacket done in a GA print, and band collar shirts. Earning a standing ovation from a front row of Regé-Jean Page and Jonathan Bailey – heroes of Bridgerton the first and second seasons, respectively.

“He was the greatest tailor in the world for the past 50 years,” enthused Regé-Jean, the face of the new Armani Code perfume. “I would wear every single look. It was amazing,” added a barely bearded Jonathan. “I plan another one Bridgertonare you?” I asked him, who chuckled, “They’re planning another hundred!”

Back in Paris, the atmosphere was euphoric LOUIS VUITTON MEN’S CLOTHING inside the Louvre’s main courtyard, with the Tuscan-style flag-wavers and Florida A&M’s 100-piece marching band performing on a giant yellow catwalk that climbed up to the museum’s third-floor windows. Monogram craze and LV emblems were everywhere in extra-large shearling work jackets, multi-pocket biker looks and warehouse overalls. Kendrick Lamar, wearing a silver crown of thorns, performed live from the front row of Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake, Joel Edgerton and Naomi Campbell.

Though in our eco-conscious age, the standout show was MAN DIOR, with a poetic gardening collection by Kim Jones and a huge 50m set of 19,000 plants modeled after Granville, Christian Dior’s family home on the Normandy coast. It was horticultural elegance, from beige gentleman’s linen suits and gardener’s aprons to ingenious embroidered gardener-look sweaters and sweatshirts and shorts with bucolic inlays…although Jones, David Beckham’s favorite tailor, dressed the star of the kick with a crisp Edwardian double-breasted suit for the show.

However, inevitably the standout moments of the runway were the couture in Paris, particularly at Balenciaga, Schiaparelli and Dior, in a season that managed to fuse florals and metallics. Chez Dior, Maria Grazia presented heavily embroidered floral dresses inspired by Ukrainian folk art; Chanel sprinkled sequined verdant leaf motifs on simple white dresses; and Valentino showed dresses made with giant leaves of shantung fabric.

In addition to SCHIAPARELLI, designer Daniel Roseberry imagined a form-fitting dress made entirely of chains, with metallic flowers hanging around the neck and endless surrealist jewels: golden ears, noses and nipples everywhere. Visitors to Paris can witness these ideas in Shocking! The surreal worlds of Elsa Schiaparellia retrospective in the Louvre until 22 January.

The show of the season – and the most difficult invitation, with just 120 guests – was Balenciaga, with its mix of neoprene and precious metals.

Olivier Rousteing’s couture show as guest designer for JEAN PAUL GAULTIER showed a tin can that looked like it was taken from the packaging of the perfume Gaultier launched in 1993, and Giambattista Valli showed densely packed sequined cocktail dresses that looked like mirrors.

The show of the season – and the toughest invitation, with just 120 guests – it was BALENCIAGA, with its blend of neoprene and precious metals. Georgian-born couturier Demna used the house’s les petites mains to ingeniously hide all the seams of the first seven looks crafted in Japanese neoprene. Thus the business suits, frock coats and scuba suits seemed to have been poured on the models.

Instead of stars sitting front row, Demna walked them down the runway: Kim Kardashian, Bella Hadid, Dua Lipa and Nicole Kidman walked the salon show, with Kidman wrapped up in an asymmetrical silver metallic taffeta gown. Several thousand fans outside on Avenue George V cheered on the guests, including Tracee Ellis Ross, Michelle Yeoh, Offset and Kris Jenner – who, despite looking south towards the Seine, waved at me, saying: ” North”. before I realized she was introducing her young niece North West, dressed in Terminator boots, track pants, sweatshirt and corn stripes.

…Bringing to an end another season, and what felt, after the pandemic fashion drought, like a style marathon.

This article originally appeared in the fall issue of IMAGE Magazine.

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