x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Mediaeval chic at Viktor and Rolf

After the drama at Dior on Friday, one might have expected a quieter day in Paris, but not so at Viktor and Rolf.

One might have expected a quieter day in Paris, after the drama of Friday, but no one messaged Viktor & Rolf, whose collection was shown to a soundtrack so loud (a remix of Placebo's thumping Battle For The Sun) that the grand dame of the front row, Suzy Menkes, spent most of the show with her fingers plugged firmly in her ears.

The collection itself started late, the restless photographers' podium having erupted into their own shouty version of Aida's Hebrew Slaves' Chorus to pass the time. When the drawbridge - yes, the drawbridge - finally came down at the back of the runway, it was to reveal a reworking of mediaeval suits of armour in black, cream and red felted wools. They were overtly aggressive, but go past the stomping models and massive shoulders and the tailored pieces were, as ever with this duo, extremely desirable, ingeniously cut and in luxurious fabrics, including some of the panne velvet that's appearing across the shows. And the red face paint with flossy platinum hair? Dubai's dedicated tanners are well ahead of the curve on that one.

A more subtle look was to be found at the École des Beaux Arts on the left bank, where Martin Grant offered his reliably tasteful collection. A Jackie Brown sassiness was purveyed through the sounds of 1970s soul, starting with the Bobby Womack blaxploitation classic Across 110th Street: the patent leather coats, slimline dresses in fluid jacquard checked silks and the palette of browns, copper, red, black, tan and orange certainly recalled the films of that era. But in classic Grant style, the effect was flattering and sophisticated rather than retro-kitsch, the finest pieces being the sunray-pleated silk maxi dresses with giant zigzag patterns in red and cream or copper and magenta. If not exactly what you'd expect for autumn/winter, the Australian designer had come up trumps for the UAE climate.

A fashionable, celeb-laden crowd arrived at the Sonia Rykiel show, including Kanye West, flashing his diamond teeth, and Daisy Lowe, to see Nathalie Rykiel's latest take on the house's signature style, and it was business as usual, if with a slightly seamier edge than previously. The wire fence and neon lights hanging from the ceiling, together with some arid plumes from the smoke machine, created a street scene for the models to slink down, wearing tight, retro knee-length skirts and lean-fitting tops in bright silks, glittering Fair Isle and cable knits and, unusually, some checks and tartans in bigger, looser shapes. The ski pants were, perhaps, a misstep, but the colours, as always, were enticingly clashed and the details, such as giant bows and spangles, kept things young and fun, as Rykiel should always be.

West also showed up at Jean Paul Gaultier's late-starting show, slipping past the crowd of jeering anti-fur protesters. Interestingly, while Gaultier did use furs from Saga, it was with more restraint than normal, and there have been far more fur-bedecked looks at other collections during the week. Indeed, the wearing of fur has become almost endemic in the fashion set, and before emerging back into the night from the show, to face the hooting and catcalling, many a once-defiant fashionista was seen to remove his or her fluffy coat and turn it inside out.

The show itself was a celebration of rich elderly ladies with attitude. If that sounds like a somewhat niche market (although let's not forget that it is the rich old ladies who have the disposable income needed by the prêt-a-porter market), the clothes themselves could have found admirers across age groups, with pieces ranging from the very classic 1960s-style black dresses and cropped loose jackets with bead embellishments to skintight Lurex cardigans and busily patterned silk blouses and dresses.

Amy Winehouse-style beehive wigs in grey (as well as a Rehab remix on the sound system), cat's eye glasses and shades and kitten-heel shoes provided the old, but the attitude came with the near-stripteases of the models, discarding accessories as they walked, as well as with the star of the show, the 46-year-old French actress and singer Valérie Lemercier, who coquetted her way down the catwalk twice, in a giant brunette wig. Once again, Gaultier set out to prove that fashion is not just for tall, skinny teenagers, and there were many people watching who looked delighted at the news.