HOLLYWOOD — If you think the Italians have had it tough, just wait and see how the French react.
With buzz heightening that next year’s Academy Awards could be bumped a week forward into March, the calendar clash that so conflicted with the Milan ready-to-wear presentations could next year become a Paris problem.
Of course, in some ways, Paris Fashion Week already kicked off a day early right here with the newly reinforced legion of French labels on Sunday’s red carpet — among them, Guy Laroche, Christian Dior Couture, Azzaro, Chanel and Rochas. Natalie Portman, best supporting actress nominee for “Closer,” absolutely shined in a Lanvin gown her friend, Alber Elbaz, made for her — and fast. “He said he didn’t have time with his show coming up [this Sunday],” Portman said. “Then he saw the movie and he really wanted to make something. I saw [the gown] for the first time yesterday ’cause I just got in from Israel and I just had to wear it.”
Add to the list those houses that show in Paris — such as Valentino and Stella McCartney — or have French designers, such as Roland Mouret, who shows in New York and lives in London, and the Oscars this time round were a veritable French festival.
But the Italians — many of whom dashed straight from Milan Fashion Week to the hills of Hollywood to sew away — are far from down and out in the Oscar fashion sweepstakes, with Atelier Versace, Armani Privé, Prada and Roberto Cavalli all garnering their share of stars. Donatella Versace hopped a jet the morning after her presentation in Milan to make fittings here, and Cavalli recently promised he would reschedule his next fall show so he, too, could come (of course, it will be easier if the Academy Awards schedule becomes a Paris issue next year).
Prada had not one but two standouts in Salma Hayek (whose décolletage kept L.A. radio buzzing all Monday morning) and Maggie Gyllenhaal, who said she “was choosing between two Prada dresses and I thought this one was hot.” (Her publicist carried her Prada fur stole in a manila envelope along with her Oscar tickets.) Even Leonardo DiCaprio was repeatedly quick to give Miuccia praise for his Prada tux on camera.And what about the Americans?
Carolina Herrera, Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Badgley Mischka, Monique Llhullier and Michael Kors all had their actresses — although Kors’ red number for Sandra Oh rounded a triple run of strapless red va-va-voom looks, including Lauren on Emmy Rossum and Herrera on Renée Zellweger.
As for Oscar winner Hilary Swank’s much-publicized snub of Francisco Costa and Calvin Klein — which has paid her over the last year to model underwear for Calvin Klein Choice — the actress insisted her switch to navy jersey Guy Laroche was simply a result of the temperature. “I felt like it might be chilly tonight and I wanted something to keep me a little warm.” The two-time best-actress Oscar winner had a quick response to the very obvious fact that her back was entirely alfresco. “I would be really cold if I had everything hanging out. I am cold in the back but the front is warm.”
Oh, well — Swank’s contract with Klein is up this year anyway.
Laroche designer Herve L. Leroux said Monday that Swank had held on to the dress as an Oscar option since early February on set for a shoot for the April cover of German Vogue. “I knew she had it,” said Leroux. “But I didn’t tell anyone. You never know what’s going to happen until the last minute. Big stars get so many dresses and so many choices.”
Best supporting nominee Virginia Madsen may be doing her own spin control following her blab to one billion viewers in TV land that seven designers had custom-made gowns for her, but at the last moment, she went with the cobalt Atelier Versace. Next time, those houses may do as their peers and try to lock in an exclusive gal.
“Exclusives” was the overriding mantra among many designers and their representatives this go-round to avoid such switches, and as tales of payola and diva behavior among celebrities and their stylists abound, they could provide some insurance that a gown will actually go to the Oscars. De la Renta had an exclusive with Penélope Cruz’s pale yellow gown; Lauren did the same with Rossum, and Valentino secured Cate Blanchett weeks ago, creating two couture gowns — both in yellow — for the best supporting actress winner. Following two fittings in England and another here this weekend, the winning dress looked strikingly similar to the iridescent tangerine gold Valentino that Jennifer Garner appeared in at the 2004 Oscars and which topped many best-dressed lists.But isn’t Hollywood all about sequels?
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast