“Don’t put your daughter on the stage,” Noel Coward, the great chronicler of the follies of fashion, once warned in his song “Mrs. Worthington”.
His advice has not quite made it to the catwalk, where nearly a dozen little girls toddled down the runways of the Paris haute couture shows Wednesday.
French designer Franck Sorbier dressed up half a kindergarten class as little tsarinas with fez-like pillbox hats and red fur trimmed cloaks as a colourful contrast to the mourning weeds of his aristocratic Russian black widows.
And Elie Saab, whose ball gowns are often the thing of little girls’ princess fantasies, also sent two children out as mini-me versions of their catwalk mothers trailing clouds of organza, feathers and glitter.
Waders for madam?
Wellington boots have been awfully stylish for some time now. But who in their wildest dreams who would have thought that fishermen’s waders would too?
After the trendsetting French brand Vetements set jaws dropping with their silk Manolo Blahnik stiletto waders that reach right to the ribs on Sunday, John Galliano went full rubber Wednesday.
The English-born designer has long been in love with a very 18th-century kind of aristocratic anarchy, and in his new collection for Maison Margiela, his fantasy punk duchesses went to the ball in wellies.
A wench who seemed like she has just led the storming of the Bastille powered down the runway in waders under an Empire line gown, while another in a pirate tricorne hat waded ashore in search of booty.
“A sense of the incredible and the impossible spins throughout the collection,” Galliano wrote in his notes, adding that his “fantasy is tempered by the jarring authenticity of today’s reality”.
“Napoleon and Josephine meet skate culture,” quipped the New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman on Twitter.
Although little of haute couture which is destined for the wardrobes of the world’s richest women filters down to the malls, you can be sure that you will be seeing squared shoulders on the high street this winter.
Fashion’s top table, Chanel, Dior and Giorgio Armani, all pushed their shoulders out in their new collections, and the trend which has also been percolating through the men’s shows last week, seems unstoppable.
In what will almost certainly be her last collection for the Italian house Valentino before taking over at Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri added the merest of puff shoulders to the odd dress. But she would not be deflected from her glorious recreation of a Renaissance court, all ruffs, regality and silk breeches.
If this is the sort of unstated grandeur she will bring to Dior, Paris will gladly open its gates to its new queen.
Back to the woods
That eternal sprite Jean Paul Gaultier ran deep into the Japanese forest for inspiration for his show. And by the amount of fur he put on the catwalk, he probably come back via Siberia.
With the world the way it is, we need “to breathe the air, get away from it all, and get closer to nature,” he said.
With a palate of deep bark-coloured coppery reds and browns, he dressed his women like wood spirits and fairy queens, their faces framed by haloes of fur or wool.
Others seems to have escaped from some Middle Earth, though even in their wildest fantasies no Hobbit noblewoman would ever dream of looking this good.
Dutch pair Viktor & Rolf also embraced nature and the idea of the found and reused, describing their equally romantic crafty collection as being “alive with cascading blossoms… and metallic dragonflies”.
In their crumpled Dr. Seuss top hats, their models looked like tramp princesses; and no less regal for being so.