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Monday April 19th, 2021 9:19PM

Kenzo gets the buzz at bee-themed Paris Fashion Week show

By The Associated Press
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PARIS (AP) — A hybrid Paris Fashion Week continued Wednesday featuring a stand out live runway show from socially-distanced Kenzo, but no sign of any A-list celebrities.

Here are some highlights:

KENZO GETS ALL THE BUZZ

Kenzo’s show was a fairy tale in nature. Guests smiled as they breathed in the fresh air of the inner city garden amid the sounds of the fountain.

Large umbrellas placed among the rose bushes marked out the show seating, little wooden stools, that ensured a safe distance between them. Guests were happy to discover a pot of honey on each stool. The “Honey of Montmartre” is produced near the Sacre Coeur church as part of a city-wide initiative to revive the dwindling bee population.

For Felipe Oliveira Baptista, the bees were more than a show gimmick, and the sweetness not just in the pots -- it was to be found also in the creative, bee-themed designs.

The designer used the Kenzo touchstone of the safari or the trek, and reinterpreted the sand dust visor as a netted beekeeper’s mask. On one of the first looks, the sheer fabric of the headwear was held with a large floppy hat. In clever creative play, Oliveira Baptista evoked a camouflage effect using printed vermilion flowers. Colors were eye-popping, either prime or acid and the silhouette was tight and sporty, or flowing and diaphanous.

The collection was also defined by shape. One look featured a netted visor in peach yellow that fell straight down from the round hat in a column tube shape, and shoes were geometric sandals with soles made of the bubbles shapes that evoked the inner lining of a beehive.

BALMAIN PLAYS A TRICK

By thinking outside the box, Balmain tackled the question of whether the reduced, virus-era fashion week would fail to attract star power to Paris.

In its Wednesday night show, computer screens played a trick on guests. Behind each front row seat the names of “Usher,” “Cindy Crawford,” “Jennifer Lopez” and “Kris Jenner” scrolled out in white calligraphic writing. Spectators gawped and took photos of the screens in excitement. Yet, when the show started they could only laugh. Each screen lit up to reveal a pre-taped recording of each celebrity who failed to make it because of virus restrictions — from whichever part of the world they were situated — pretending to watch a catwalk show. It was a moment of light relief, but the three rows of empty VIP seating also underscored how seriously the functioning of the fashion industry has been scarred by the virus.

The clothes were typical Olivier Rousteing in their feel, and moved in a monochrome direction. To a rousing retro soundtrack, from Frank Sinatra to David Bowie, interlocking black and white geometric patterns adorned exuberant 1980s peaked — almost tubular — shoulders that led the eyes down to cinched waists and bell bottoms. In some designs, eye-popping acid yellow graced a tuxedo.

Loose and glittering sequined jackets evoked the pop starts of the 1980s, as did large gold buttons on tuxedo sleeves. Sheer split leg glitter skirts added the necessary Rousteing sexuality, as well as skintight leather pants. But Balmain was more about the show than the fashion, and this season’s originality was to be found mainly in the eye-catching presentation.

PATOU IS VINTAGE CHIC

Patou became the latest buzzy example last year of a relaunch of an iconic house in the vein of Schiaparelli, Courreges and others. One year ago, artistic director Guillaume Henry premiered his debut designs to acclaim for the establishment first founded by Jean Patou in 1914. Patou -- an arch rival of Coco Chanel -- was considered a fashion pioneer, and one of the first designers to widely use sporty styles and a monogram.

There is still a lot to live up to for Henry, the former Carven designer. This spring-summer florals, powdery colors, huge volumes, Juliette sleeves and feathers on the hems of skirts -- as well as an old-fashioned couture salon setting -- conjured up a vintage vibe. While, the Patou signature sportwear (the house founder was daring for creating knee-length cut tennis wear, and ending the flapper style) was seen in giant stiff cuffs and skirts cut on the bias.

THE ECO-INVITE

It took perhaps a deadly global pandemic for the fashion industry to change its wasteful and un-ecological system of invitations.

Usually, houses compete to produce the most eye-catching, inventive and flamboyant show invitations delivered often by gas-guzzling courier to each guest’s address with little thought for the environment.

This season, owing to the virus and also the uncertainty surrounding the fashion show schedule, many top houses such as Balmain opted to invite guests via email. Some that did send physical invitations, such as Kenzo, used eco-paper.

ANREALAGE POPS WITH COLOR

Highly famous in his native Japan, award-winning designer Kunihiko Morinaga is known for daring concepts that merge art and fashion — such as a square box that becomes a trench coat when the box ribbing is taken out.

The fashion-forward house has also built up a huge fan base in Paris since it landed here in 2014 for its intellectual designs and original use of techno-fabrics.

For spring-summer 2021, the brand was as original as ever as it touched on one of this season’s already-big trends: Eye-popping color. Acid ochre was the hue of one floor-length dress-cape hybrid, on a sapphire blue gown with layered frills at the hem. Colored headpieces resembled origami works of art, against starkly contrasting bright shades of lipstick. One large voluminous coat-dress sported frills all the way down that made it look part Marie Antoinette, part jellyfish.

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