22-Aug, 03:58

07:20, January 25 261 0

2017-01-25 07:20:09
Fashion Review: Oscar Dress Shopping at Armani Privé

A few hours after the 2017 Oscar nominations were streamed live on YouTube, the best supporting actress candidate Nicole Kidman materialized on the steps of the Palais de Chaillot in Paris.

Clad in a bell-sleeved black dress, blond hair pulled back in a high ponytail, statement jewels dangling from her ears, she was trailed by a posse of frenzied photographers. Roberta Armani, Giorgio Armani’s niece, clutched her by the arm as if she were a prized chicken and guided her into the bowels of the museum for the Armani Privé show.

Downstairs they took their seats next to a small woman in a sky-blue trouser suit and black mock turtleneck — who happened to be the best actress nominee Isabelle Huppert (who wore Armani when she won her best actress Golden Globe). As these things go, it was a fashion moment in the making.

What were they doing there? Award season shopping, we presume. So the audience settled back to guess what they might wear.

And were treated to the story of Giorgio and the Giant Peach.

Also mandarin, satsuma and clementine. Mr. Armani has a fondness for a color theme, and the chic of pixelated jacquard jackets over skinny black trousers and jeweled T-shirts soon segued into orange gowns in watercolor silks, sometimes with a jeweled bib around the neck, stiff ruffled cape or Arabesque embroidery. The predictable “Orange Is the New Black” jokes ensued (sometimes the orange was actually paired with black, which created an unfortunate Halloween effect). Ms. Huppert tapped her index finger against her upper lip and considered.

If it was hard to imagine either her or Ms. Kidman in the swirl of silk accordion organza shaped à la tangerine on the hips, a Swarovski-strewn column twinkling under the shadow of a lace Creamsicle slip was a potential red carpet moment in the making.

Celebrities have been pretty thin on the ground this couture. Paz Vega and Petra Nemcova (and lots of sable-clad clients) were dim-wattage flashbulb magnets at Elie Saab’s ode to Scheherazade writ in swirls of crystals, pearls and illusion netting, but there were none in the halls of the Invalides to take in Maison Margiela Artisanal. Which was too bad, as it was not only one of John Galliano’s best shows yet for the brand, but also one of the best of the week.

Mr. Galliano’s tendency to chaotic de- and reconstruction had been reined in, and applied with surgical precision: A tweed cropped blouse atop a bias evening skirt was cut to reveal a window of the black crepe lining beneath; black tulle escaped from the lining of a coat to peek out literally, with an embroidered eye (and nose and lip), courtesy of the artist Benjamin Shine.

Not everyone wants to wear someone else’s face on their front — though to a certain extent we all assume a public mien. But a slither of red tulle under a Grecian column of what looked like crocheted tablecloth was surprising in the most graceful way.

Still, the star factor is so sparse, G-Dragon, the South Korean rapper/record producer/entrepreneur, might qualify as this season’s Rihanna (he has his own fashion line, too). He popped up at Chanel, and later at Vetements, which is not, in fact, couture, but something in-between: one-off pieces, yes, but not of the precious, petites mains kind.

Held in the Pompidou, the show featured 37 sartorial clichés on 37 diverse non-models of all ages, genders, colors, heights and hip sizes, from the “Milanesa” (a silver-haired lady who lunched in a big mink coat, bigger sunglasses and a tailored skirt) to the “Punk” (spiked and studded lurid green painted leather jacket, matching trousers, matching boots, matching hair), “Miss Webcam” (cropped voluminous vinyl puffa jacket, stonewashed skinny jeans), and the “Bride” (a long white ruffled dress encased in a tulle shroud).

Vetements has defined itself as “just making clothes” (hence the name) since it began, which is pretty much how this looked. Though there was some of their signature torqued reality on the runway, in the form of extra-long belts, oversize sleeves, “Not My President” sloganeering, and layering, it was so pointedly banal that it seemed less like a collection and more like a piece of somewhat facile performance art. Fashion is arguably always social commentary, but at its best it is revelatory, not merely self-satisfied.

As it happened, “The Nominee” was in there, too: wearing a draped electric blue evening gown secured at the hip and paired with a matching bag, shawl and heels. Wonder what Mesdames Huppert and Kidman would have made of that.