Paris Menswear July 06

On The Wings Of An Angel

PARIS, July 4, 2006 - There they all were at the Dior Homme show on Tuesday evening - Fashion’s extended family.

On the Editorial side: Suzy Menkes, Cathy Horyn, Virginie Mouzat, Anna Wintour (currently being played on screen by Meryl Streep), Grace Coddington, Glenda Bailey, and Stephen Gan.

On the VIP side: Karl Lagerfeld, Pierre Bergé, and Betty Catroux.

On the LVMH Side: Bernard Arnault, Dephine Arnault, and Sydney Toledano.

On the Superstar side: Elton John and Mick Jagger.

But nobody wanted to talk about the subject on everybody’s mind. Barring some 11th hour miracle, this was to be Hedi Slimane’s last collection for Dior Homme, if as widely reported, contract talks have indeed broken down.

Sydney Toledano shrugged his shoulders at the very mention of the word ‘contract’.

Pierre Bergé spoke in a heartfelt manner. “I will always be faithful to Hedi,” he said.

But it was Fashion’s outspoken grandpa, Karl Lagerfeld, one who LVMH officials would probably liked to have locked in a closet, that said: “Hedi will just have to make clothes for somebody else. I’m a designer follower, not a label follower. And I’m certainly not wearing the clothes of Kris Van Ascche.”

The show began in an atmosphere of high tension as a robotic arm, holding a clump of speakers, moved the entire length of the long catwalk. In the background lyrics played: “We looked good together. Is this love? Cause I don’t know myself”

And out came a groundbreaking collection, one that proved Hedi Slimane’s visionary talent beyond doubt. His fine, graphic silhouette was feminine, with small male British models looking at times more like girls than boys. So what if one boy lost his pants, it only proved his sex to startled editors on the front row.

Leather tops, leather leotards, and T-shirt-quasi-blouses formed the foundation on which skirts fluttered, oversized shirt tails draped, and jet sequins streamed. A mesh shirt was crossed like a halter, an oversized bolero sparkled with glittering silver and crystal embroidery, a vest was ripped into a series of shimmering shards. One dress-like top of apricot chiffon had the VIP side gasping in awe. These were clothes that transcended any traditional codes, yet reinforced the linear beauty of the human form.

If the high-powered women editors needed proof that Hedi could design for women, they got it.

So the finale came, in silence. A model with angels wings attached to his back beat a tambourine as he led a flock of shirtless boys (black and white cordons fixed over their hearts) down the long runway. They walked to the end and then disappeared into the darkness of backstage. As they went out of sight, they metaphorically crossed onto an imaginary road leading to an unclear destination.

Hedi’s appearance on the runway was brief, and backstage he stood alone in a little cubicle. Like a flash of lightening, a super angel, Mick Jagger, appeared almost as out of thin air. “It was really incredible, Hedi,” he said, putting a hand on the designer’s shoulder.

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