ON STAGE: Guests including Cardi B, Diane Keaton, Karina from K-pop girl band Aespa, Ayo Edebiri, Maisie Williams and Lee Pace all faced a steep climb up the steps from the rear entrance of the Palais Garnier to reach the setting for Thom Browne’s debut couture showing Monday afternoon.
“I’m imagining something is going to happen to that curtain,” said Baz Luhrmann, who knows more than a thing or two about theaters. He even got married at the Sydney Opera House, he reminisced fondly.
He was right: after guests settled into their seats for the show, the curtains parted, accompanied by a sea of gasps from the audience, to reveal the gilded interior of the opera house with its red velvet seats and spectacular fresco ceiling by Marc Chagall. The runway space was the theater’s stage itself; in the audience, a full house of black-and-white cardboard cutouts, each wearing shades and signature Thom Browne, looked on.
“He’s a great, singular artist,” said Luhrmann of Browne, musing on what it takes to stand out in today’s fashion world. “Look at what Pharrell did; for the younger generation, there’s no line between fashion, music, art, pop culture, and we do need to ‘eventize,’ to have a big idea. It’s no longer good enough to just walk up and down and say look at the clothes, I don’t think. As beautiful as the clothes are, that engagement process is tapped out, because we’re living in a different, collective world.”
Cardi B, who had changed into a gilded headpiece and a tweed tailored dress since her dramatic entrance at Schiaparelli Monday morning, admitted she had never been to the opera before. For her, the dramatic staging of the show — beyond the theatrical setting — evoked a story. “It was like a New York day, someone who had a really long day, and there are people walking around them, some people are nice, some people are thinking too much of work. It just reminds me of a New York day, with fashion in it,” she mused.
Maisie Williams, who often takes in Thom Browne in Paris, said she found it hard to believe he had not done couture before. “It feels crazy that this is the first one,” she said. “I can’t wait to see how far he pushes it, it’s exciting to see what he’s capable of doing.”
Williams was taking advantage of some time off from work due to strike action at the Writer’s Guild of America. “The whole industry is at a little bit of a standstill, so I’ve been taking the time to see my friends and hang out in London, and it’s been really lovely,” she said. She also enjoyed down time at the recent Glastonbury Festival. “That was amazing, I saw The Arctic Monkeys, I saw Elton John, I saw The Foo Fighters, I saw The Chicks, I saw Romy. Romy was the best act for me, I got all the way to the front at the barrier and I danced my little heart out for an hour.”