Fur, froth hot in haute couture

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Updates from runways elsewhere for Fall/Winter 2015/2016, Paris haute couture, to start.

Celebrity roulette at Chanel

Chanel’s guests were led to their seats in a giant re-created casino inside Paris’ Grand Palais – replete with roulette tables and fully functioning gambling machines. But the real gasps came when Kristen Stewart and a diamond-encrusted Julianne Moore walked out through an arch – both wearing bespoke Chanel couture – to take a seat around a celebrity-filled poker table in the center of the catwalk. There they hugged, chatted, gambled and laughed all through the show.

“I like people when they’re gambling and well dressed like in Monte Carlo,” said Karl Lagerfeld, who offered a largely black-and-white, high-tech couture show that featured Coco Chanel’s famed skirt-suit jacket made via 3-D printing. Modernized ’20s “bob” wigs – worn in identical form by all models – gave the collection a homogenous, fem-bot feel that riffed on the futuristic 3-D printing concept.

Fur back in the news

Even by the standards of Fendi, which once sent mink coats glistening with 24-karat gold down the runways, its “haute fourrure” show Wednesday counts as a statement: the first fur-only extravaganza by a major design label during the Paris haute couture shows.

If there was still any question that fur was back in fashion, and that the animal rights lobby had lost the luxury battle, this show would seem a definitive answer. Yet Fendi executives declined to speak about the show, or about fur in general. (So did Michael Kors, Jean Paul Gaultier and Jeremy Scott of Moschino, and others.)

That’s the curious state of fur in 2015: So many people seem happy to sell it and show it, but nobody wants to talk about it. (Animal rights group PETA had protestors grabbing some attention at the concurrent Berlin Fashion Week, where they posed sans fur, silk, wool, leather and down.)

“Fur has always been a hot-button issue in fashion, and now more than ever because the consumer has the ability to research and decide for themselves where they want to stand,” said Robert Burke, founder of the luxury consultancy in New York bearing his name. Even longtime fur-shunner Stella McCartney joined the recent faux fur boom by presenting a full line of faux coats in her collection this March in Paris.

“For years, we were looking at fake furs, but it never felt like the right message for us to promote the look of fur,” McCartney wrote in an email. But “we finally found something that looks great and is consistent with our philosophy on luxury and cruelty free fashion.”

Versace goes for fun

Donatella Versace delivered a fun and frothy collection that mirrored the exuberance of the late ’70s and the architecture of Art Nouveau. Models wore turn-of-the-century flower crowns and voluminous flared silk sleeves alongside lengthy, floaty skirts. Wrought-iron bodices, meanwhile, added a touch of aggression to the feminine designs and harked back to the days of late 19th century decorative arts, as seen in the architecture of Paris’ metro and its many garden gates.