Paris Fashion Week: protests at LV, summer vibes at Chanel and an Alber Elbaz tribute

Drama and nostalgia reign on the penultimate day of proceedings

The penultimate day of Paris Fashion Week presented a healthy dose of drama, as a climate change activist burst on to the catwalk at the Louis Vuitton show to protest against the fashion industry's impact on the environment. Things were slightly more sedate at Chanel, where designer Virginie Viard presented a nostalgic but optimistic collection. But the undisputed highlight of the day was a moving tribute show held in honour of Alber Elbaz, who died in April from Covid-19.

Drama at Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton’s spring/summer 2022 presentation was disrupted when an Extinction Rebellion activist burst on to the catwalk to protest against the fashion industry’s impact on the environment.

"Overconsumption = extinction” read a banner brandished by the demonstrator. Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth and Youth For Climate said in a statement that about 30 people were involved in planning the protest. Two were arrested.

It was an unexpected turn in a show already decked in drama. Models walked along the Louvre’s Passage Richelieu, which was lit up with hundreds of antique chandeliers, in a re-enactment of a “grand bal”. The collection paid homage to the 18th and 19th centuries, with flowing capes, high-neck collars, cropped jackets and dresses that jutted out at the hips, but also managed to feel futuristic.

“The spring/summer 2022 collection is an invitation to le grand bal of time,” read designer Nicolas Ghesquiere’s show notes. "Tonight, time is of no consequence. Yet time is everything. It dissolves functions and codes. It unites wardrobes. Day becomes night. The humble uniform becomes sumptuous.”

‘A beautiful love letter to Alber’

The touching tribute show to Elbaz was dubbed Love Brings Love. It was a moving ode to one of fashion’s most beloved designers, featuring looks by 45 fashion houses.

The show opened with a statement from Laurent Malecaze, chief executive of Elbaz's brand, AZ Factory. “He never forgot his roots … he cared for people like an obsessive parent … but most of all, he touched the hearts of everyone he met, with humour and plenty of generosity. He made us laugh, he made us cry and he made us dream … He simply loved people. And people loved him back."

The show started with one of Elbaz’s own designs and was followed by creations from all of the biggest names in fashion, including Giorgio Armani, Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton, Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia, Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing, Bottega Veneta’s Daniel Lee, Burberry’s Riccardo Tisci, Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and Dries Van Noten. With all of these designers presenting a single dress, the show became a stunning snapshot of today’s fashion landscape.

It was a wonderful moment of solidarity that was a true testament to Elbaz's spirit.

Chanel's summer vibes

Chanel’s Paris Fashion Week presentation was infused with optimism. It was shown to a pared-back audience in an annex near the Eiffel Tower, since the brand’s usual location, the Grand Palais, is being renovated ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics.

The theme was the lens, and models posed theatrically as real photographers huddled around a red carpet podium freestyle, instead of lining up in their normal scrum. “I used to love the sound of flashbulbs going off at the shows in the ’80s,” designer Viard said in her show notes. “I wanted to recapture that emotion.”

Updated: October 6th 2021, 1:07 PM