PARIS – One-time darling of the fashion world Christian Lacroix returns to the Paris catwalks next week with a tribute to late Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli, famed for her collaborations with Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau.
Saint Laurent designer and champion of the pencil-thin skinny suit Hedi Slimane, meanwhile, will unveil his second menswear collection for the label following his grunge dominated debut.
The shows will be highlights of a nine-day fashion marathon that kicks off in Paris on Wednesday with five days of spring/summer 2014 menswear collections followed by four days of haute couture for winter 2014.
Frenchman Lacroix, feted by fashion editors in the 1990s after he created the first couture house to open in a quarter century in 1987, will present 15 reinterpretations of Schiaparelli designs for the relaunched couture house.
Schiaparelli, whose greatest rival was Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, famously collaborated with surrealist artist Dali on her 1937 Lobster Dress, a white silk evening dress on which Dali painted a lobster.
In another collaboration, the pale blue Tears Dress, a Dali designed print created the illusion of torn flesh.
The label, which closed in 1954 after failing to adapt to post-war austerity, was officially reopened in July 2012 having been purchased in 2006 by Diego Della Valle, head of the Italian leather goods company Tod's.
Lacroix rode the wave of the 1990s luxury spending boom with a string of exuberant, over-the-top creations that dazzled the fashion world.
But he lost his his fashion house in December 2009 when a Paris bankruptcy court approved a plan to end production of the classic label's haute couture and ready-to-wear lines.
The house had run up losses of 10 million euros (about US$15 million) in 2008 after being hit by the sharp downturn of the luxury market.
At next week's men's shows, Slimane's latest collection will also be closely watched to see if he opts to stick with the grungy look also seen in his second Saint Laurent women's collection in March.
The intense interest in the French designer's work comes as men's collections become ever more important commercially.
"Before men's was in retreat (compared to women's wear) but today brands are making a lot of money thanks to men's," said fashion consultant Jean-Jacques Picart.
"There is a growing interest," added Gregoire Proffit, a buyer for French store Galeries Lafayette.
New overseas markets "consume a lot of men's fashion" and in France, the younger generation "want to be fashionable and do not want to miss out on a trend," he said.
Young people have closely followed rising designers such as Melinda Gloss, the label created in 2009 by two young Parisians, or Kenzo whose collection is designed by New Yorkers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, he added.
Other highlights of the week will include Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel couture show on July 2, 100 years after Gabrielle Chanel opened her first shop in Deauville in the summer of 1913.
By contrast, Givenchy will be absent from the haute couture calendar for a second consecutive season.
Designer Riccardo Tisci "has been working on numerous other projects," said the house, citing notably his work on costumes for the ballet Bolero by Opera de Paris.
"Riccardo is a perfectionist" and "would not present a collection that he was not satisfied with," the house added.
However, Dutch designers Viktor&Rolf will be represented with a return to the couture shows after a more than 10-year absence.
And for those who dream of attending a couture show but don't have an invitation, Frank Sorbier is putting around 100 tickets for its July 3 show on sale with prices ranging from 43 to 8,000 euros ($56 to $10,500). AFP