Tilda Swinton sure knows how to handle clothes — and they speak to her in mysterious ways.
On Tuesday night in Paris, she unpacked hats, coats and dresses, pressing them against her slim frame, hugging them like old friends, holding them aloft like Simba in “The Lion King” and then gingerly balling them up or folding them expertly like a Gap employee of the month.
Gucci had conscripted the British actress and fashion curator Olivier Saillard to stage one of their esoteric fashion performances at Fondazione Sozzani, here involving about 30 film costumes by Danilo Donati for avant-garde Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini.
On a minimal set resembling a fashion runway, Swinton, Saillard and a few helpers demonstrated the power of clothes to transform, the actress employing her elastic face and commanding presence to great effect — one minute a religious figure; the next a comical extra from “Arabian Nights.”
All of Gucci’s top brass were in attendance except recently departed creative director Alessandro Michele.
VIPs at the performance and a dinner afterward included Kering honcho François-Henri Pinault, actresses Diane Kruger and Charlotte Rampling, plus singers Carla Bruni and Lou Doillon.
Decked out in a Gucci dress with an optic swirl pattern, Kruger said she was dazzled by the display.
“You see the ghosts of movies past and how you take on different personalities,” she said. “I was taken aback by her ability to change. Her face is so extraordinary that no matter what costume she puts on, she becomes that person.”
Kruger said she’s working on a documentary about German-French actress Romy Schneider that draws a “parallel between her and me.”
Rampling, who has done such a fashion performance before with Saillard, revealed that they would team up again for a final hurrah that will involve her reading poetry.
“This was very moving,” she said about the evening. “Tilda really has the presence and depth for us to want to follow her in this journey.”
During dinner, two long tables lined with pink flowers and Ginori 1735 tableware, Swinton thanked Pinault for supporting the spectacle, dubbed “Embodying Pasolini,” and acknowledged its intellectual, at times inscrutable, bent.
“It’s something that we all could do more, which is to do things that you don’t know what we’re doing. And it’s such a luxury,” she said, motioning to Saillard and teasing: “We’ve been talking about creating your salon. So we may be starting tonight.”