Balmain puts the bling into bourgeois in Paris fashion show

A model presents a creation for Balmain during the Women's Fall-Winter 2020-2021 Ready-to-Wear collection fashion show in Paris, on February 28, 2020.
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Paris fashion week fell back in love latex and the horsey set Friday, with Balmain rolling the clock back to 1980s in a glitzy show that could have been called "Pretty Woman goes to the Polo Club".

With Celine's Hedi Slimane already committed to reviving the bourgeois pearls and twin-set look, Balmain's artistic director Olivier Rousteing said he wanted to democratise the clothes of the ruling classes.

"Growing up in Bordeaux, perhaps the most bourgeois city in all of France, I learned from an early age that certain classes, clubs and cliques were closed off to someone who looked like me," said Rousteing, the first black designer to head a major Paris fashion house.

"I spent countless hours dreaming and scheming about how I could cross over, open doors and be accepted," he added.

Balmain's plan was to storm the bourgeois bastions in thigh-high latex boots, with a battalion of crack models led by battle-hardened older supermodels Helena Christensen and Esther Canadas.

"Out of my way buster, or I will batter you with my Balmain shoulder pad," quipped the New York Times' critic Vanessa Friedman of the collection in a tweet from her front row seat.

Rousteing sent his diverse runway army out in glammed up versions of equestrian and upper-class classics, from blazers to a stunning pencil argyle dress and his take on gaucho ponchos.

Country set silk scarf prints ran through the collection, with their motifs picked up in puff ball woollens enlivened with swathes of sequins.

- Severed head handbag -

The 33-year-old creator, who described himself as an orphan who did not know his origins, was in reflective mood, with a film about his search for his roots, "Wonder Boy", in the running for best documentary at the French Oscars, the Cesars, late Friday.

"This collection adapts those symbols of upper-class exclusion and twists them to... open doors and open minds," Rousteing said.

"I realise that my search for answers about my past has helped me make it clear how happy I am to be living in this present, in this Paris of new possibilities, of fewer boundaries and more inclusion."

Family also ran through Virgil Abloh's Off-White show late Thursday, with the black American designer sending out supermodels Bella and Gigi Hadid as well as their mother Yolanda.

As with Kardashians, it is hard to know with the Hadids who is the more famous, with 56-year-old Yolanda a bestselling author as well as a former star of the reality television show, "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills".

But the biggest surprise came at the Rick Owens show, where his flamboyant French wife Michele Lamy sported a bag modelled from Owens' own head.

With "Game of Thrones" actress Gwendoline Christie sitting next to her on the front row, it set tongues wagging wondering whether Brienne of Tarth had lopped off the American designer's head backstage.

Vogue called it "fashion's cheekiest It bag", and was particularly impressed when Lamy produced her iPhone from a flap in the back of her beloved's skull.

Even for Owens, one of fashion's true radicals, this was quite something.

Meanwhile, the French designer Agnes b -- who has a huge following in Asia -- cancelled her Paris fashion week show that was due to the held on Monday because of the coronavirus and "the current global sanitary context".

It is the third Paris show to be cancelled because of the virus.

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