Vivienne Westwood keeps punking Paris Fashion Week

PARIS (AFP) - Punk is Vivienne Westwood's leitmotif, and the 73-year-old British fashion designer showed her radical roots are intact at her latest show at the Paris Fashion Week.

To a screechingly loud live band in a tinsel-adorned commercial basement on Saturday with front-row celebrities Solange Knowles and Naomi Harris, Westwood revealed an autumn 2015 women's ready-to-wear collection determined to break all the rules.

For a start, half the models were men, underlining the "unisex" theme of the clothes, which saw either gender dressed in skirts or pants.

And then it was debatable how readily wearable some of the numbers were. One featured a cloth-covered pole emerging up over one shoulder. Another had a (female) model sporting a dark baroque dress that lifted away from her legs on struts to form bat-like wings. Several wore towering hats taken straight from Dr Seuss's The Cat in the Hat.

But, true to form, Westwood was unrepentantly strident, both in fashion and in using the catwalk as a political soapbox.

"Right now in London there is a demonstration called 'Time to Act' demanding action to stop climate change," Westwood said in a statement given to each of the attendees.

"I cannot be there in person but I've sent a message," she said, urging British voters to back environmentally conscious lawmakers in May elections.

Westwood's show also featured models not likely to be seen in the other Paris shows, including an appearance by plus-size model and actress Gwendoline Christie, from the US fantasy TV series Game of Thrones.

Her climactic wedding couple was especially eccentric: a male model topless in a woman's white corset who kissed his bride, US actress Paz de la Huerta from the series Boardwalk Empire.

In a more classical, elegant vein a world away from Westwood's trash clash, there was Elie Saab's show on Saturday, staged in an elaborate venue in the gardens in front of the Louvre.

There, the Lebanese designer showed a distinct penchant for gloves and belts in a mostly black and glittering, sexy collection that would not look out of place in the chic nightclubs in Dubai, Beirut or Moscow.

His parade started with a military staccato soundtrack and brass-buttoned jackets, but quickly morphed into daring lace numbers suggesting see-though lust.

The show was broadly appreciated by a crowd that included, in pride of place, French actress Emmanuelle Beart.

Saab said he sought to start with structure, then soften it through the use of Juliette sleeves and open backs.

"Lace liberates the upper legs, where light appears behind poetic turns of embroidered foliage to reveal a diffuse yet feminine form," he said.