There is something discombobulating about feeling a shudder and a tilt, the models in front of you apparently moving slowly sideways, as the stand with your show seat starts to move in circles.
At the same time, the models at the Céline show seemed to be going off in all directions. Popping in and out of the black holes of space were models - young or older - wearing a smart green masculine trouser suit, a striped shirt, a white belted raincoat, something furry and - unexpectedly - a tunic and trousers printed with black wheels and checks skittering before your eyes.
All this and the bodies and arms of shadowy people behind the plastic backdrop. I rushed backstage to try to make sense of the show chaos (sorry: artistic intrigue), but designer Phoebe Philo did not want to talk when I asked her the point of her dramatic presentation of her Autumn/Winter 2017 collection.
"Just ideas coming together with lots of ideas," said the designer. "Just lots and lots of ideas and how they impact each other."
Around me, Phoebe's team were hugging and sobbing and clutching each other, as if this show were their last. Overview notes provided by the public relations people seemed even more confusing, apart from telling me that the installation (that required more electric cables and wires than I have ever seen above a fashion runway) was by French artist Philippe Parreno.
''The Céline AW17 collection explored Phoebe Philo's storytelling design process of how a collection is created and the notion of how changes result in impact," read the statement. "Further, the collection relates closely to the interconnected nature of women's lives and possibilities for women."
Before I read this, I had thought of Phoebe as the English designer who has her children running around backstage and who made practical but classy clothes for today's woman. She threw into the mix a few charming pieces like the fluffy flat sandals that have been picked up by other designers across the world.
With all that on offer, why did the new Céline collection have to complicate things so much?
Take away the moving seats and impossible-to-follow criss-cross of the models and there was the Céline look that any woman would crave: the bold, floor-length tailored coat; a tuxedo with its hemline sweeping right down to the ankle. The tailoring looked bigger, oversized even, which is in tune with the Eighties-style square shoulders that we have seen elsewhere this season.
Phoebe seemed to be offering a hardened version of the serenity she once found in streamlined clothes. An example of the new severity would be a plain, long sleeved dress with a hemline at mid-calf. Its softer side was a blue shirt elongated to the ankle and worn with trousers.
Ultimately, Phoebe offers 21st century elegance with the smooth lines disrupted by a tangle of fringe at the hem or what appeared to be a big blanket over one arm.
I received an overall impression of longer - to the ankle - length, a sense of sobriety and a few fanciful things for evening. What I missed in the hurdy-gurdy of the presentation, is, as yet, unknown.
With exquisite workmanship and Victoriana melded with pop, Pierpaolo Piccioli had a new vision of romance for the digital era.
Prudishness and pop - can the two really meld together? Yes! If the Victorian-style cape is in a vivid, sugary, postmodern pink and the dress underneath a colourful geometric pattern, recalling the Memphis era.
At Valentino, the 1880s met the 1980s with sensational results as designer Pierpaolo Piccioli dismissed the feminist vibe that has reverberated through the Autumn/Winter 2017 season yet created a collection that was respectful to and joyful for, women.
Just looking at the designer's four moodboards was a history lesson, as Pierpaolo whizzed me through dark Victorian carved birds, bright Memphis furniture, coral with a religious connection to Medusa - so much from the past crammed into one collection.
Yet on the runway, the result was far from overloaded, as the history of coral was subsumed into the necklaces all the models wore and the deflated Victorian silhouette - long and high waisted, but slim where a crinoline once was, seemed perfectly acceptable as a romantic vision of the 21st century.
"I wanted to add deepness and romanticism to the modernity of the shapes, so these are absolutely items that you can wear separately - a white shirt or the skirt with your own sweater," said Pierpaolo. "I think fashion is made for dreams, but sometimes you want a dream that is daywear."
The Valentino studios are at the heart of the matter, apparently finding it as easy to toss off a tailored coat with a mid-calf hemline nudging Victoriana bootees, as it is to make a soft, light dress to flow underneath. The detail and delicacy of the dresses seemed like an extension of the haute couture, but the designer was eager to point out that the clothes came from the Italian factory dedicated to Valentino.
Whether it is so easy visually to mix a sorbet pink top with tiny ruffles down the arms that flowed into a cherry ripe panelled skirt, the result was surprisingly calm. Even the dresses patterned with Memphis pop blended in with the plainer, pleated versions. And just when you thought that the show's high romance was over blown, the designer would slip in a black top over a pair of sloppy velvet trousers or calm a Memphis patterned dress with a tailored coat. A severe black jacket could be worn with anything already in the closet from an LBD to blue jeans. Like the tailored coats, it kept ripe femininity in check.
"For me it is important to keep the lightness, otherwise it doesn’t feel confident and if you don’t feel that you don’t feel beautiful," said Pierpaolo. "I think if you feel confident you can even be able to show your sensibility and really feel stronger."
However you rated the clothes - too fancy, too froufrou, too historical - there is no denying that Pierpaolo has created a vision that is respectful to women and which makes them feel beautiful. In a churning political universe, Valentino offers a small, still voice of calm.
Demna Gvasalia revisited Cristóbal’s silhouettes with surges of modern colour, print and volume.
Balenciaga haute couture has been revived for the first time since Cristóbal himself closed the house nearly half a century ago. The last nine outfits shown by creative director Demna Gvasalia, on the huge carpet patterned with the word 'Balenciaga,' had their roots in the legacy of grandeur left by the noble Spanish-born couturier, who died in 1972.
Demna, who started in fashion by building street-smart, unadorned clothes, deliberately named just Vetements (the French word for clothing), has turned towards the grandeur of the original designs that are part of the Balenciaga legacy.
“I thought 100 years was a good reason to make couture available again,” said Demna backstage. “We're not going to do a couture line or show during couture, but these pieces will be made to order – basically for people who want to buy a couture dress from Balenciaga.”
The grand offerings – the polka dot dress with bustle back, the layers of dark pink taffeta, and a slim black gown, all with large back bows, were not the only historic links. The show opened with tailored coats which were worn with a drape over the left shoulder, reminiscent of the way that the models of an earlier era would walk with their heads up, shoulders rounded and stomachs sunk in.
“I studied how the pieces are worn and I found these images from old mood boards of Cristóbal where women are standing with their coats like this,” the designer explained. “The idea was to bring this kind of elegance, the gesture of wearing those pieces, but take it into a kind of cool and make it more modern. You can also wear it in a normal way, but it is constructed so that one part is larger and then you can also pin it up. And this is what you see basically in all these books.”
Demna's way of rethinking with his brain what he had seen with his eyes is exceptional – and the reason why he seems able to update the house as if he were growing new shoots from existing roots.
The arrival of vivid colour signalled a change of pace, as every figure stood out in the farthest reach of the enormous sports stadium. The hosiery especially perhaps, in grass green, and cut-away waistcoats like harnesses in pastel colours, took the image of Balenciaga back to the early days of Nicolas Ghesquière and his futuristic period at the house.
Demna is also drawn by the flowers that were a part of the Cristóbal Balenciaga look; by showing a patterned skirt with big, bold, brightly coloured sweaters, he gave print a modern feel.
The show was not perfect. Mini dresses in the floral patterns and bright hose looked out of place. But the overall effect was precise but theatrical, with the couture creating a dramatic ending.
Choosing Demna may have been a gamble by François-Henri Pinault, CEO of Kering, the luxury group that owns Balenciaga. But the designer has turned out to be able to answer fashion's most difficult challenge: finding the balance between old and new, tipped towards the future.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/cocktail-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/****-formal-dresses