PARIS — Rihanna and Natalie Portman dressed to the nines. Jennifer Lawrence opted for jeans. And most of the stars passed unnoticed amid the sea of celebrities awash inside Paris’ Rodin Museum on Friday.
The great equalizer for them all was a chance to glimpse one of the year’s biggest fashion spectacles: the hugely-awaited debut from Christian Dior’s first female designer.
But were the high expectations met?
Here are the highlights of Friday’s Spring-Summer 2017 ready-to-wear collections.
CHRISTIAN DIOR’S “NEW LEXICON”
Being the first woman in history to head up one of the most influential dressers of women in history, Maria Grazia Chiuri certainly had to make a statement during her first Dior show.
Make it she did.
Most debuts at storied fashion labels pay homage to the house DNA — and this should especially be the case at grand Dior, which saved post-war French fashion with 1947’s groundbreaking “New Look.”
But in Friday’s show, Grazia Chiuri, the former Valentino designer, was having none of it.
Gone were the references to the famed Bar Jacket, the full, thick A-line skirt, and any flavors of the post-War style.
In its place was what the program notes termed a whole “new lexicon” of style, and Grazia Chiuri did indeed give the collection her unique stamp.
Sadly, the designs themselves fell a little flat and not sufficiently vibrant to live up to the bold move away from the DNA.
To her credit, Grazia Chiuri made a creative attempt to explore gender boundaries by channeling the uniforms of fencers with quilted embroidered combat jackets, cropped sporty pants and, yes, high fashion sneakers and knee-high sneaker boots.
It was an intelligent way of highlighting the concept of gender in the Dior show — given greater resonance by the fact she’s the first woman designing at the house.
The gender musing continued in diaphanous tulle corsets that were described as “unoppressive” because of their loose fit.
But there was simply too much repetition in the 64-piece collection.
The styles felt a little low-energy because of a pared-down color palette — and where detailing and embroideries emerged they came across a little saccharine.
One look, a black dotted tulle and lace top, looked visually incoherent against sporty white crisp menswear pants and white strap sandals.
Nevertheless, the designer should be praised for the ambitious effort to liberate herself creatively and to rework the Dior aesthetic.
MILLA JOVOVICH LIKES CHANGE
“Fifth Element” star and veteran model Milla Jovovich says the spate of new designers at the helm of Hermes, Lanvin, Saint Laurent and now Christian Dior is a “great thing”
“Anytime you’ve got fresh air into a really amazing old house, it’s always fun. It’s nice to have this new generation,” the stunning 40-year-old said from the front row at the Dior show.
“Dior took quite a long time to choose the new person, for obvious reasons. They’re such an important house. And Maria (Grazia Chiuri), I’m sure, is going to do a great job,” Jovovich added.
ISABEL MARANT ROCKS BACK TO THE 80s
Isabel Marant dived into a reference book about the 1980s for her typically sexy spring-summer display.
High, tight waists led the eye to round, voluminous shoulders and oversize sleeves worn by some of the moment’s hottest models. Gigi Hadid opened the show in an oversized cream coat dress.
But there was more to the collection.
Intricate floral prints and half-moon shoulders rendered in thick textures conjured up the vestimentary styles of the 19th century, as well as patterns that came back into vogue during the 20th century hippy era.
One floral look, featuring a separate armor-like blue bodice and contrasting patterned sleeves, had a historic vibe, but was rendered contemporary by a micro mini sporting a provocatively placed zipper.
The necessary disco minis that are synonymous with the feminine Marant made sure this collection will please her loyal clientele.
ISSEY MIYAKE IS WEARABLE
It was all about the wearable at Issey Miyake.
Loose, sack-dress hybrids — highlighted by jagged shards of metallic colors inset across the body and gathered at the hem — opened the designer’s Spring-Summer show.
They contrasted nicely with the model’s sharply cut hair and the cubic geometry of Japanese “Geta” platform shoes.
Indeed, Oriental references defined much of the aesthetic from the French-Japanese house.
Oversized cross-over jackets were tied chicly at the side with thick belts and paired with baggy shorts.
But what would an Issey Miyake show be without his signature pleated techno-fabric styles?
Sure enough, they appeared toward the middle of the show, in some of the 40-piece-strong collection’s best looks.
Abstract three-dimensional dark blue dresses sported panels like tectonic origami — at once stiff and soft.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP