Dior hems plunge, Lanvin celebrates at Paris shows

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“I like to break up, dissect beauty,” mused Martens, a 28-year-old who graduated from Antwerp’s famed fashion institute in 2008.

It was clear he aimed to break up styles, mixing clean, ecclesiastical forms with sneakers and in-vogue sporty zippers.

Next to a projection of Belgian masterpiece “The Passion of Saint John” by Hans Memling, clerical column dresses and coats slinked by hanging like cassocks in speckled gray knit. An oversized coat in ethical recycled wool looked papal with a vertical slit tapering out from the round collar.

Another knitwear piece revealed an intricate crisscross on the back that the designer said were “shards of church stained-glass.”

Martens certainly ticks the on-trend box for the gothic.

But overall it was a simple collection by a designer prioritizing comfortable clothes, kind to women — in keeping with the minimalist vibe peppering some fall-winter ready-to-wear shows.

Like many up-and-coming designers, Martens is not on Paris fashion week’s official calendar but is showing his collection at the same time to garner the attention of the fashion world.


Octogenarian Sonia Rykiel looked on from the front row Friday at her show that the program notes said went back to the “effervescent seventies.”

But the collection, designed by the new creative director April Crichton, seemed more timeless than anything else.

A black-and-white skirt suit opened the show, followed by trompe l’oeil shirtdresses with revamped 1950s headbands and a showcasing of tight Edwardian-era collars — a new feature in the house’s normally more casual style.

Stricter than previous shows it may have been, but the sageness of higher necklines and lower hems was shot down in many pieces with cheeky flesh-baring cutouts — a wink from a house that prides itself on nonchalance.

One thick knit oyster skirt and jumper in mohair and alpaca looked sumptuous. But maybe a little hard to wear?

“Oh no, don’t worry,” said Nathalie Rykiel, 81-year-old Sonia’s daughter and company president. “It’s thin wool, we would never make something too hot. Fashion is about awareness, complicity among women.”

It’s a philosophy that clearly instructed the models, who, laughing and skipping, took the final curtain call holding hands.

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