Designers Humberto Leon, left, and Carol Lim, right, and singer Solange Knowles, center, acknowledge the audience at the end of Kenzo's show in Paris. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

The curtain came down on men’s fashion week in Paris with two high-concept shows at the weekend that had walk-on roles for Solange and K-pop sensation Lisa.

Kenzo’s design duo Carol Lim and Humberto Leon waved goodbye to the French label with US singer-songwriter as the surprise performer in the same Paris stadium which Elton John had packed to the rafters a few nights previously.

The Asian-Americans’ ended their eight-year reign with a bang as Solange appeared on a platform to sing “I’m a Witness” in between the men’s and womenswear lines.

The brilliantly choreographed event had started with a similar wow moment when a huge curtain was pulled away in front of 600 or so fashionistas to reveal several thousand more people on the other side.

Having conducted her 11-piece black-clad brass band, Beyonce’s younger sister then walked arm-in-arm with the designers to acknowledge the ovation at the end, with the feminist English rapper M.I.A in the front row.

Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing got the weekend rocking late on Friday night by making the hot French DJ Kiddy Smile the center of his show-cum-concert.

The young French designer, who often dresses big music stars for their tours, also threw open the doors by giving away 2,000 tickets.

“Everyone is talking about inclusivity from behind their screens but no one is actually doing something,” he told the media.

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Inclusion has been one of Lim and Leon’s watchwords, and their final Kenzo collection was inspired by Japanese Ama divers, the “sea women” who have been diving for pearls for 2,000 years.

Traditionally, the divers only wore a loincloth and the pair picked up that motif with rippling, silkily aquatic clothes that weren’t obviously sexy but were utterly sensual at the same time.

Men’s and women’s lines were peppering with gorgeously original fishing and mermaid metaphors, with a fluidity and a dreaminess about the clothes, particularly in the play with pearls, urchins and little touches of foaming silk and organza.

Skinny look

While Lim and Leon went out on a high, you could be forgiven for feeling that Hedi Slimane, Mr Rock Chic himself, the man who is habitually billed as a style superstar, was treading water.

Credited with the skinny look, Slimane has taken a terrible kicking from critics since unseating the beloved feminist creator Phoebe Philo at Celine.

He closed fashion week with another no-expense-spared show that began with an awesome theatrical device, which for some is where the creativity ended.

A white-inspired creation from Kenzo at men’s fashion week in Paris. Photo: AFP

The big news is that the “Sultan of Slim” has jettisoned his trademark drainpipes, the trousers the late Karl Lagerfeld once lost nearly 42 kilos (92 pounds) to fit into, for flared faded jeans and leather trousers.

His “Celine 04” collection was very much like a male version of “Celine 03” – a walk down memory lane, and not all of those memories were good.

This time it was a sometimes literalist re-creation of what American West Coast rock star types were wearing circa 1973, with added sparkles.

Tight leather jackets and flares, unbuttoned shirts and three-piece double-breasted suits with cowboy boots, red carnation buttonholes, and long thin scarves.

If it wasn’t for the couture finish, it was a look that you might be able to assemble from a well-stocked Los Angeles charity shop.

Some tops carried downbeat slogans from New York artist David Kramer’s paintings such as “Yesterday was better,” “My own worst enemy” and “Downhill from here.”

You could not help but wonder if Slimane, whose loyal fans are known as “Slimaniacs,” was teasing his critics, with one of Kramer’s images carrying the legend “… There is no irony here.”

Fans did scream at the end but it was more for Lisa, the Thai-born rapper who is Slimane’s new “official muse” and who was in the front row.


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