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Fashion and film merge as Paris shows its opulent side

From an absurdly opulent film shoot at the Opera Garnier to a Chanel catwalk along the Seine, fashion week offered a very different view of Paris on Tuesday from the riots of recent days.

The country is still licking its wounds and facing up to the deep societal divisions exposed by days of violence sparked a week ago by the police killing of a teenager. 

The riots have died down since the weekend, and it was the other France — of unbridled luxury, craftsmanship and conspicuous excess — that took centre-stage on the second day of haute couture week. 

Chanel’s models paraded alongside the River Seine with the Eiffel Tower in the background, some with little dogs or baskets of flowers, in a show of “sophistication and simplicity,” said designer Virginie Viard. 

She mixed tweeds, silk muslins, organzas and encrusted lace with floral and graphic motifs. A few bright colours, including Barbie pink, stood out against a largely grey palette.

Over at the Opera Garnier, the 19th century monument to late-imperial excess, couturier Stephane Rolland put on a fabulously opulent show that was also being filmed by veteran filmmaker Claude Lelouch for his next movie, “Finalement”.  

There was a strapless velvet dress with a glittering diamond hood, an elaborate headpiece that looked like a mass of gold flames, and a long red satin dress with a bejewelled collar.

The show was an homage to Maria Callas, whose voice was heard through the show, aimed at reliving one of her most legendary performances at the Opera Garnier in December 1958. 

Rolland is known for bright colours, such as the bright-yellow dress in which he put singer Pretty Yende for the coronation of King Charles III recently. 

But he said “in the heart of the Palais Garnier, I didn’t want to disturb the scenery with pinks, yellows and greens” and stuck mostly to black, white and a few flashes of deep red.

Actors mingled with the guests for the upcoming movie from Lelouch, best-known for his Oscar-winning 1966 film “A Man and a Woman”. 

The director’s request to film during the show was “like a gift from heaven,” Rolland told AFP, adding that it was vital to merge fashion and other art forms.

“It’s very important in our profession. I find that from time to time it lacks a bit of refinement. Money is not everything,” he said.  

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