Solange Knowles. Picture: Instagram.
The curtain came down on Paris men's fashion Sunday with two  high-concept shows that had walk-on roles for Solange and K-pop  sensation Lisa.

Kenzo's design duo Carol Lim and Humberto Leon said goodbye to the  French label with Solange as the surprise performer in the same Paris  stadium which Elton John had packed to the rafters a few nights  previously.

The Californians' ended their eight-year reign with a bang as the  American star appeared on a platform to sing "I'm a Witness" in  between the men's and womenswear lines.

The brilliantly choreographed event had started with a similar wow  moment when a huge curtain was pulled away in front of 600 or so  fashionistas to reveal several thousand more people on the other side.

Having conducted her 11-piece black-clad brass band, Beyonce's younger  sister then walked arm-in-arm with the designers to acknowledge the  ovation at the end, with the feminist English rapper M.I.A in the  front row.

Balmain's Olivier Rousteing got the weekend rocking late on Friday  night by making the hot French DJ Kiddy Smile the centre of his
show-cum-concert.

- Real-life Japanese mermaids -

The young French creator -- who often dresses big music stars for  their tours -- also threw open the doors by giving away 2,000 tickets.

"Everyone is talking about inclusivity from behind their screens but  no one is actually doing something," he told reporters.

Inclusion has been one of Lim and Leon's watchwords, and their final  Kenzo collection was inspired by Japanese Ama divers, the "sea women"
who have been diving for pearls for 2,000 years.

Traditionally, the divers only wore a loincloth and the pair picked up  that motif with rippling, silkily aquatic clothes that weren't
obviously sexy but were utterly sensual at the same time.

Men's and women's lines were peppered with gorgeously original fishing  and mermaid metaphors, with a fluidity and a dreaminess about the
clothes, particularly in the play with pearls, urchins and little  touches of foaming silk and organza.

While Lim and Leon went out on a high, you could be forgiven for  feeling that Hedi Slimane, Mr Rock Chic himself, was treading water
somewhat.

The style superstar who is credited with the skinny look has taken a  terrible kicking from critics since unseating the beloved feminist
creator Phoebe Philo at Celine.


- Slimane's retro flares -

He closed fashion week with another no-expense-spared show that began  with an awesome theatrical device.

As for the clothes, the big news is that the "Sultan of Slim" has  jettisoned his trademark drainpipes, the trousers the late Karl  Lagerfeld once lost nearly 42 kilos (92 pounds) to fit into, for  flares worn long over heeled boots.

Skinny though lives on in the rake-thin male models, every one wearing  black aviator shades.

In fact, Slimane's "Celine 04" collection was very much like a male  version of "Celine 03" -- a walk down memory lane.

This time it was a sometimes literalist re-creation of what American  West Coast rock star types were wearing circa 1973, with a sharp
couture sheen and added sparkles.

Tight leather jackets and flares, unbuttoned shirts and three-piece  double breasted suits with white cowboy boots, red carnation button holes and long thin scarves.

- Fans scream for Lisa -

Some tops carried downbeat slogans from New York artist David Kramer's  paintings such as "Yesterday was better", "My own worst enemy" and  "Downhill from here".

You could not help but wonder if Slimane -- whose army of loyal  free-spending fans are known as "Slimaniacs" -- was teasing his  critics, with one of Kramer's images carrying the caption, "...There  is no irony here."

Fans did scream at the end but it was more for Lisa, the Thai-born  rapper of Blackpink fame who is Slimane's new "official muse" and who  was in the front row.

There was much joy to be had elsewhere with the reinvigorated British  brand Dunhill and Paul Smith, the doyen of English tailoring, showing  there is plenty of creative life left in variations on the suit.

But the big breath of fresh air was the young French designer Bruno  Sialelli confirming the promise of his debut collection for Lanvin  with a show held at a swimming pool.

Quirky, cool, cute and a lot of fun to look at -- and clearly to wear  Sialelli turned out a collection that played with every cliche of  the French summer and seaside and somehow made them look new.

It was hard not to smile at his tricorne straw hats.  Not for him the pasty, androgynous models that often dominate the Paris catwalk.

"I wanted the boys to eat well and to look healthy and strong," he told AFP.

"Now I need a holiday, he added. "I mean, I love my work but holidays  are the best things in life, no?"

AFP