PARIS — Louis Vuitton capped a Paris fashion week dripping with jewels, sequins and glamorous jet-setters by going back in time to one of the most fashionable ages of travel: The era of the Orient Express.
In a big-budget production, the house that made its name and built its early fortune with leather luggage wheeled out a steam-spewing locomotive on tracks at the Louvre Museum for its fall-winter show Wednesday.
Models descended from the life-size replica Orient Express dressed as bourgeois dames in tall Edwardian hats. Each was trailed by a valet carrying — naturellement — Louis Vuitton hat boxes, vanity cases, and petite valises in crocodile and embroidered sequins.
It took a moment for the spectators to focus on the clothes on the platform catwalk.
"It's just sumptuous, and what a spectacle," said French cinema icon Catherine Deneuve stepping onto the carriage after the show.
The signature bold patterns of Louis Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs traveled first-class alongside brocades and jacquards appliqued with laser-etched plastic stones. Adding to the time warp, big bejeweled buttons and curved lapels on three-quarter length coats harked to 1960s' fashion.
Long heavy fabrics in brown, black, siennas and purple plunged to bottom-heavy and layered silhouettes.
"We're imagining the romance of a better time," said Jacob speaking backstage. "Whatever you try, clothes never really live in the past. They are worn now so they are modern, with a modern take."
At which point Jacobs revealed he was wearing a knee-length black dress. "Oh, don't worry, I'm wearing boxer shorts underneath."
Among other shows Wednesday, glamor also filled the catwalk at Elie Saab's show of a collection brimming with both traffic-stopping, sequined dresses and clients to buy them.
A glitzy array of va-va-voom silhouette ended with statement evening dresses that are sure to turn up at the next big Hollywood party, but that's a theme from last season and the season before.
The slight variation this time was structure.
The peplum made a comeback in lean, more architectural daywear. A beautiful ash sheath with an armor-like, jutting waist perfectly balanced sex with the business look. It said: Admire, but don't touch.
Prints in gray and black also marked a change from the total-color shock of the last ready-to-wear collection, with body skimming panels and cut-outs adding a dash of provocation to Saab's slightly modified winning formula.
There's only so much you can do with wool, even if it's cashmere. But Allude nevertheless managed to produce a tasteful, if repetitive, fall-winter collection Friday with some highly wearable clothes.
Now a signature, the German company's heavy cashmeres gave cardigans and sweaters in burgundy, russet and blue a weighty sweep in the first runway show.
Other, thinner knits added a sexy touch, silkily contouring the bust. Flashes like trapeze inserts kept the mood contemporary with a retro wink, as with cool, bulls-eye-patterned knits in blue and red.
One beanie hat that looked like it could have been worn in the 1960s heyday of British model Twiggie was paired with a long cardigan that had the Bohemian feel of the decade after.
German design house Talbot Runhof visited the world of Charles Dickens' Miss Havisham on Wednesday, in a Paris ready-to-wear show that channeled green foliage — a nice touch for fall.
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