On the last day of Paris Fashion Week, French fashion labels Chanel and Louis Vuitton displayed a polarising view of what fashion should look like. While Chanel tapped into the nostalgic era of black-and-white Hollywood films, Louis Vuitton presented its vision for a gender neutral future.
French fashion label Chanel brought a touch of tinseltown to the runway, with glamorous feathered gowns and a nod to the Hollywood sign, recreated to spell out the brand's name.
Models paraded in and out of the giant Chanel lettering, transposed from the hills of Los Angeles to the interior of Paris' Grand Palais exhibition hall, as guests perched on stools at the socially-distanced show.
Fashion labels are only just returning to the catwalk, after shows were cancelled over the summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, and in Paris only the major luxury brands pressed ahead with physical events.
Chanel's latest outing showcased inspiration drawn from Hollywood's 1950s heyday – with a French touch.
A short film released before the show paid tribute to actresses such as Jeanne Moreau and Romy Schneider who caught the eye of American directors but also starred in French classics at the time.
Looks included off-the-shoulder evening gowns and feathered black-and-white dresses, while designer Virginie Viard – who took over last year from the late Karl Lagerfeld – brought out new twists on Chanel's classic tweed suits.
Models wore tweed jackets over silky shorts, while shift dresses included trompe l'oeil details such as pockets on the back. The collection also featured dashes of bubblegum pink and logo-heavy pyjama style tops.
A-listed guests included singer and actress Vanessa Paradis and her daughter Lily-Rose Depp. Chanel would normally invite its clients from around the world to attend catwalk shows, though many were absent due to travel restrictions linked to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton showed off its latest collection inside La Samaritaine, a recently renovated 150-year-old department store owned by LVMH.
It had been due to re-open around April but the launch was postponed after the pandemic hit, and the building is still not open to the public.
Louis Vuitton's collection featured slogans splashed onto tops and dresses in pop colours, which included a sweater stating "Vote".
The look was the first one to cross the runway, and was followed by others like "Skate" or "Bounce", on outfits with a skater-vibe.
The brand, owned by luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, provided no specific context for the slogans, though the show comes weeks before the US presidential election.
Vuitton's womenswear designer Nicolas Ghesquiere said in show notes that the collection was focused on the increasingly fluid boundaries between genders, with some oversized T-shirt styles, for instance, which could be masculine or feminine.
"On some styles, prints are made up of words that are like positive injunctions," Ghesquiere added. "I wanted to transliterate an energetic, vigorous, daring collection."
Models wore oversized trench coats over some looks, paired with clog-style shoes, while other styles echoed a futuristic vibe often channelled by Ghesquiere, including crop tops with elaborate sleeves and shiny, silver jumpsuits.
Vuitton, which is known for the handbags that drive revenues at the brand, showcased some in bright green, and others with chunky chains as straps.
(Reporting by Sarah White and Noemie Olive; Editing by Janet Lawrence)