Guest models Mirren, Longoria energize L'Oréal fashion show

THOMAS ADAMSON

PARIS (AP) — Armed with a battalion of celebrity ambassadors, L'Oréal took over the historic Paris Mint building to stage a Paris Fashion Week extravaganza. Offerings from Elie Saab, who went 1970s, and Vivienne Westwood, who stylishly towed a line between ethnic and punk, made for a frenetic pace of shows on Saturday.

Here are some highlights of the day's Spring-Summer 2020 ready-to-wear displays:

L'OREAL GOES TO THE MINT

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L'Oréal's celebrated female empowerment at its third fashion show, which featured actresses Helen Mirren, Andie MacDowell and Eva Longoria giving turns as models and was broadcast to over 40 countries.

The French cosmetic giant's display still was less ambitious than last year's edition, which took place on the Seine River, or the one staged in the center of the Champs-Elysees that literally stopped traffic in 2017.

Nonetheless, Mirren, Longoria, MacDowell and Dutch model Doutzen Kroes energized spectators at the evening show, joining Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello, Spice Girl Geri Halliwell and American model-actress Amber Heard and others to showcase a collection of carefully crafted looks.

Whatever the styles lacked in unity — they harked from diverse design houses that included AMI, Balmain, Dries Van Noten, Elie Saab and Giambattista Valli — they made up in razzmatazz.

A strong-shouldered tuxedo mixed with a 70s jabot collar shirt on Mirren and contrasted with more feminine styles, such as a trapeze-shaped, shoulder-less coral gown or the dazzling pearl-hued ruched number Longoria wore.

The L'Oréal brand's cachet in makeup could not go unnoticed. Kroes and other models were made to look nymph-like, thanks to makeup director Val Garland and hair baron Stephane Lancien.

Petite Cabello was in a self-deprecating mood ahead of her catwalk showing, telling AP: "Do you guys know you're talking to a model? The shortest model that ever walked the runway."

The modelling turn also brought out the jitters in Desperate Housewives star Longoria, who confessed "it terrifies me. This is not my comfort zone. I'm not a runway model — full disclosure."

MacDowell, meanwhile, praised the brand's inclusive ethos.

"Last year was the first time I had been on the runway since my 20s, and I started modeling in Paris. So it's full circle for me to be back," the 61-year-old "Green Card" actress said.

"I think (it's) really interesting to represent mature women and to show that we're still fashionable and we can do it just like anybody," she added.

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ELIE SAAB CHANNELS CIRCLES, 70s

A vivid red screen flanked the Elie Saab runway inside the grounds of a Paris institution, the Michelin 3-star restaurant Alleno Paris at the Pavillon Ledoyen.

The Lebanese designer got decorative and turned the style-dial firmly back to the 1970s. Small circles were a key theme.

The circles, at times, appeared controlled, such as the tiny perforated eyelets on a sporty white mini dress with long tassels.

Later, the theme had a boho vibe: a petite sunflower print adorned a floor-length black gown worn by a model styled with her hair in an Afro.

A silk gown in rich electric blue had a looser-than-normal silhouette and a waist that was tight without being cinched. Thick banding led the eye down to a sumptuous full skirt that gently grazed the floor.

The collection indicated that Saab, who found fame with va-va-voom cinched-waist looks, seems to be moving out of his comfort zone.

And it's paying dividends.

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HERMES' PARED-DOWN STYLE

Minimalism with a hint of equestrian-style utilitarianism.

That was the simple formula deployed with style in French designer Nadege Vanhee-Cybulski's spring collection for Hermes.

Reports that Hermes' womenwear is overtaking its menwear sales momentum has added scrutiny to Vanhee-Cybulski's discreet designs that split fashion critics into two camps.

Some welcome the slight geometry and attention to the famed Hermes house codes that she has brought since taking over in 2014. While, others see the sometimes austere, minimalist designs as an unwelcome direction for the powerhouse synonymous with luxuriance.

In Saturday's well-executed show, a fine geometry defined the silhouette: Be it in a sporty graphic vest, or a dolphin-gray sweater with Asian-style arms and angular banding at the waist.

But cinnamon-colored segmented leather looks were the 55-piece-collection's best.

They towed the line, in a sort of compromise, between the two camps of critics: Shimmering crisply with luxuriance while remaining understated.

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WESTWOOD'S HIGH PUNK PRIESTESS

Designer Andreas Kronthaler merged his signature urban punk with fresh tribal styles for the Vivienne Westwood show set amid dark brooding light.

The mood seemed to suit Kronthaler: it resulted in a spring collection that moved the house of Westwood in a welcome, more focused direction.

A gargantuan pointed hat - part high priestess, part Marie Antoinette - was paired with a bathing suit bodice, a great detail that set the tone for a display of quirky contrasts.

Ethnic jewelry abounded along with knee-high soccer socks. A pale silver headdress billowed fabric ribbons that nestled eccentrically on a pair of loose culottes.

A checkered pattern on loose or gathered skirts cut a fine contrast with a metallic blue double-breasted jacket that had the gigantic round shoulders and glimmer of the 1980s.

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Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K

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Amy Serafin contributed to this report

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