Top left: Balmain autumn/winter 2012–2013 (detail); top right: “Barroco Rococó,” Museum of Decorative Arts; bottom: sunglasses by Dolce & Gabbana, autumn/winter 2012–2013.
Few kinds of Paris style are as beloved as the baroque. Every so often, it grabs center stage again. When that happens, even a minimalist caves in. Few can resist a glint of gold, a really dramatic ruffle or the exuberance that makes us think of Louis Quatorze. Maybe it’s genetic, but each wave of curls and swirls creates brand-new fans. This fall, much of Paris fashion just adores it.
It started with three houses: Balmain, Alexander McQueen and Dolce & Gabbana. Their winter couture was both ruffly and embroidered; some so embroidered it looked like armour. Next came shimmer, flowers and frills in the prêt-à-porter. Now, the trend has even spread to shoes and sunglasses. Its key elements are elaborate decoration, touches of gold and big, gestural shapes. The featured colors are old favorites: pinks and prunes or royal ochres. The textural favorites of this Paris style are velvets, satin—and sleek metallics.
Top left: Alexander McQueen, autumn/winter 2012–2013; top right: Balmain autumn/winter 2012–2013; bottom left: slippers, Miu Miu; bottom right: “Barroco Rococó,” Museum of Decorative Arts.
Several key exhibitions played a pivotal role in the trend. One of the most popular, “Barroco Rococó,” celebrates the Brazilian brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana. These furnishing wizards are huge fans of the French baroque. The difference is they replicate the richesse with poor materials, using recycled paper and plastic. Parisians love the brothers’ design of the Musée d’Orsay café and they’ve been flocking to this witty exhibition.
Top left: Givenchy, autumn/winter 2012–2013; top right: shoes, Dolce & Gabbana, autumn/winter 2012–2013, socks by Gerbe; bottom: Nuit Blanche 2012 in the mairie of the 4th Arrondissement.
Bling is also back, which, for Paris, is surprising. Here, “bling” usually means a statement piece against simple black. This winter’s winning combinations are light of touch yet they manage to create a maximum impact. Gold peeks out from under battered leather jackets and wild stockings surprise below the slim black skirts. A perfect matrix for experiment is rich black velvet; juxtaposed with something theatrical, it becomes the new baroque.
Top left: Dolce & Gabbana, autumn/winter 2012–2013 publicity; top right: Balmain autumn/winter 2012–2013 (detail); bottom: metallic skirt, pink jacket and gloves, Agnès B. autumn/winter 2012–2013; center: Pampilles bracelet, 1946, “Van Cleef & Arpels,” Museum of Decorative Arts.
Inspired by the Louvre’s tribute to Van Cleef & Arpels, fashion lovers have also rethought jewelry. Now, a chunky necklace is fashion’s exclamation mark. Such frankly fun pieces can be found at Reminiscence and their more expensive siblings are on show at nearby Fabrice. Even recent Paris perfumes have carried a headier air. A good example is Diptyque‘s Volutes; the word volute means a baroque swirl of smoke.
Top background: Balmain autumn/winter 2012–2013 (detail); top left: bottines, Claudie Pierlot; top right: glitter cutlery in Baroque pattern, Sabre for Christmas 2012–2013; bottom background: Pont d’Alma; bottom left: Volutes fragrance by Diptyque for winter 2012–2013.
To top it all off, there’s a new music treat. From mid-November to mid-December, the Festival Paris Baroque will be entirely devoted to the era’s music. In order to pass its legacy on to the maximum audience, many ticket prices are low—and some concerts will be free. But music of the 17th and 18th centuries is a huge draw here. So better check the website now for details and venues.
• The Festival Paris Baroque runs from November 23 to December 9.
• “Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art of Haute Jewelry” continues through February 10, 2013; “Barroco Rococó,” through February 24, 2013.
Dolce & Gabbana
“Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art of Haute Jewelry”
Festival Paris Baroque
Editor’s note: Looking for the perfect Christmas or Hanukkah gift for the Francophile in your life? The GG2P Travel Club card is great of course! Right now we have a holiday offer: buy one, get one free for a friend. One for you and one for another—it’s the most fun way to shop!