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Vogue celebrates the Olympics and Paris style

By Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre, The Philippine STAR Published Jul 03, 2024 5:00 am

There couldn’t have been a more Parisian way of kicking off the Olympics: with the magnificent Place Vendôme, the epicenter of fine jewelry, as stage and runway, Vogue World took over the last day of Paris Fashion Week with a spectacle of a show on International Olympic Day, blending athleticism, fashion, music and the performing arts to mark 100 years since the last Games in the city in 1924.

The extravaganza that featured 500 participants, 180 looks on 150 models, 188 athletes, 70 dancers and a 40-person orchestra also recalled June 23, 1894, the day on which the founder of the modern Olympics, French nobleman Pierre de Coubertin, launched the International Olympic Committee.

Waiters from 16 Parisian cafés in Fursac outfits at the Place Vendôme

Introduced in New York in 2022 and in London in 2023, Vogue World raised the bar even higher for this edition. Anna Wintour, Vogue global editorial director, who likened the New York one as a street fair and London to a glamorous night at the theater, considers Paris “a kind of opening ceremony, one that celebrates 100 years of fashion and sport, as well as this extraordinary city.” 

Like the MET Gala, Vogue World has become an important fashion event to look forward to, reflecting the magazine’s enduring influence on culture and its power to make a difference.

Katy Perry in Noir Kei Ninomiya

For Paris, the beneficiary is the humanitarian organization Secours Populaire, which helps facilitate access to essential equipment for young, aspiring athletes across France.

French athletic youth academies, in fact, collaborated to pair different sports with each decade of French fashion as athletes in their sports gear came out together with models, singers, and dancers in a Broadway musical format that included pirouetting waiters, a nod to the Course des Cafés tradition where the garçons compete in speed walking while balancing their trays.

Aya Nakamura in Jean Paul Gaultier Couture

The show started with an overture from the orchestra as Aya Nakamura appeared in a specially designed Gaultier gown, singing Fly as an inspirational song for the entrance of two groups representing what this affair was all about: Athletes carrying the Secours Populaire flag and artisans from the different couture houses—the “Athletes of Fashion,” as host Cara Delevingne called them. 

Remake of a Chanel 1924 dress

To herald the 1920s, cyclists and tap dancers came in with models wearing flapper looks by Chanel, whose founder made waves during that decade as she designed relaxed pieces for the active, modern woman.

Remake of a 1939 Balenciaga gown inspired by Las Meninas of Velasquez

The 1930s had track-and-field athletes juxtaposed against Balenciaga’s ball gowns in black and white, recalling Cristobal Balenciaga’s impeccably cut sculptural shapes and uncompromising standards that earned the respect of his peers like Christian Dior, who called him “the master of us all” and Chanel, who considered him “the only couturier in the truest sense of the word.”

Sabrina Carpenter in Jacquemus and Jared Scott in Quiksilver wetsuit with Chanel flipflops and surfboard

The 1940s, the decade that brought the bikini to the world, was a fun romp in stripes by Jacquemus, representing aquatic sports including synchronized swimming, giving the clothes a retro look inspired by Esther Williams, the American athlete turned actress. There was also a holiday beach feeling as the popular singer Sabrina Carpenter brought hot Espresso vibes to resort wear.

Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner caused quite a stir arriving on horseback, with both, as well as their stallions Django and Napo, fitted in Hermès to rally the equestrians for the 1950s. You cannot talk about that decade without Dior’s New Look and Bar Suit, which is still on theme because “the suit entered female wardrobes through equestrian sports,” says Alexandre Samson, fashion curator, and associate artistic director for the show. The Bar Suit was reimagined with an equestrian slant, accessorized by riding caps and crops.

Christian Dior reimagined New Look made for Vogue World: Paris

Space-age looks from Courrèges, Pierre Cardin and Rabanne represented the ’60s, enlivened by fencing athletes, while ’70s dynamism was fueled by gymnastics and Givenchy—channeling Nadia Comaneci through leotards overlayed with flowing chiffon that recalled creations in The Battle of Versailles face-off between American and French designers as well as the heyday of disco at Studio 54 and Le Palace.

Teyana Taylor in archival Rabanne dancing

The power shoulders of the ’80s came in quintessential Saint Laurent, paired with the martial arts. “These shoulders are connected to martial arts because they are made to impress,” explained Samson. “There’s also a link to the arrival of the Japanese designers in Paris.”

French NBA phenom Victor Wembanyama in Louis Vuitton and French Olympic legend Marie-José Pérec in Alaïa

Soccer heralded the ’90s in honor of France’s World Cup win, as Bad Bunny serenaded the players with Titi Me Pregunto. Samson considers 1989 to be the beginning of this decade, as Azzedine Alaïa designed a tricolor dress worn by Jessye Norman on the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution. Peter Mulier of Alaïa created his version for Olympic track star Marie-José Peréc.

Ciara in Givenchy

For the 2000s, the legends Venus and Serena Williams came swooping in sporty style to epitomize the rise of the amazing female tennis stars of the decade. Serena was in a custom Off-White by Ib Kamara—a mermaid gown with “Queen of Queens” printed on the white paneling. 

Venus Williams in custom Marine Serre

Venus wore custom Marine Serre crafted in repurposed tennis bags, a personal touch as Serre explained: “I devoted my teenage years to tennis, rigorously training and competing before pursuing a career in fashion. Tennis bags were an integral part of my attire, woven into the fabric of my childhood memories and have shaped my approach to fashion.” The gown features body-contouring panels as well as piping and embroidery from the original bags.

Serena Williams in custom Off-White

Serre admires the sisters profoundly: “Venus for epitomizing the essence of female empowerment and strength—the first Black player in history to reach the number-one world ranking while also speaking in favor of equal prize money for male and female players. And who has a similar career except for Serena?”

Kamara has vivid memories of watching Serena win and she and her sisters “were so inspired by a Black woman being so visible and powerful.”

The sisters are no doubt heroes that represent talent and achievement, which the show chose to honor, regardless of race or gender, whether in sports or fashion. A lot of that was seen in the beautiful clothes and performances by the most creative individuals and will remain in the collective memory of the world as it braces itself for the coming Olympics.