Designer merry-go-round rings in Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week kicked off on Tuesday with the in-crowd abuzz at the prospect of style icon Hedi Slimane designing for Yves Saint Laurent, and rumours putting a newly-free Raf Simons in the wings at Dior.

Opening with a day devoted to young designers, the Paris autumn-winter collections round off a month of womenswear shows that have sent fashionistas, models and media trooping on a style trail from New York to London and Milan.

A cellist performing George Frideric Handel's baroque masterpiece "Sarabande" set the tone as Portugal's Fatima Lopes sent out sleek, second-skin silhouettes, in solid tones of nude, blood red, burgundy and black.

Long-sleeved, high-necked dresses hugged the figure to the knee, in dark leather with lighter strips at the side and burgundy fur draped cape-like from the shoulders, or in pale prints that suggested a network of delicate veins.

Blood-red lipstick, red stiletto heels and tiny hats balanced on the forehead, shaped like disks or pointed leaves, added a geisha feel to the look, shown under the vaults of the historic Invalides complex by the River Seine.

But the designer also hinted at a rock-and-roll edge, as the cellist signed off with a few bars of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

Wednesday brings the first big names onto the Paris catwalks, with Belgium's Dries Van Noten, Rochas and Mugler, followed Thursday by Carven, Balmain and India's Manish Arora.

Adding spice to this week's proceedings, a fashion world merry-go-round kicked off in Milan last week as Germany's Jil Sander announced its Belgian designer Simons was leaving to make way for a return of the house's founder.

The discreet, avant-gardist Simons had been widely tipped a few months back as a successor to John Galliano, sacked from Dior a year ago over a drunken, racist outburst in a Paris bar.

Showing his swansong collection for Jil Sander Saturday, Simons earned a standing ovation for the pure, sensual lines of a look built around coats and dresses, all in soft pale blues, pink blushes, and creams.

His sudden availability has set Twitter abuzz with speculation, although a spokeswoman for Dior insisted no announcement was planned for Fashion Week.

Change is afoot at the Parisian luxury house Yves Saint-Laurent, however, after it confirmed that its Italian designer Stefano Pilati would show his last collection next Monday, without naming a successor.

Industry sources told AFP at the weekend that he would be replaced by Slimane, a designer admired by rock stars and fashion trade peers alike and who is returning after several years away from fashion.

Slimane, whose father is Tunisian and mother Italian, worked at YSL in the late 1990s but made his mark at Dior from 2000 to 2007, revolutionising menswear with his androgynous skinny suits and tight low-cut trousers.

Dior will be grabbing the spotlight at the Paris shows on Friday, together with Lanvin.

Haider Ackermann and Jean Paul Gaultier follow on Saturday, and Hermes, Kenzo and Givenchy wrap up the weekend on Sunday.

Fashion Week continues Monday with Pilati's last show for Saint Laurent, Britain's Stella McCartney, and the young Maxime Simoens' first line for Leonard.

On Tuesday Chanel takes over the ornate, domed Grand Palais hall -- as has become its Fashion Week custom -- before shows by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Valentino and Alexander McQueen.

Marc Jacobs' latest look for Louis Vuitton headlines the final day of the shows, which wrap up with Lebanese designers Elie Saab and Rabih Kayrouz.

  • 2015 Nissan Murano aims for the style-forward crowd 12 hours ago
    2015 Nissan Murano aims for the style-forward crowd

    Nissan says its 2015 Murano crossover, only the second major revamp of the car since it debuted in 2003, draws its design cues from the “age of future space flight.” That’s probably taking it a little far, but the new Murano, based off the 2013 Resonance concept vehicle, is an exceptionally lovely machine, all fluid, curved metal on the outside, and flowing, soft-touch materials on the inside. Certain kinds of comfort and charms that were unheard-of outside of premium vehicles five years ago have definitely trickled down, and reached a kind of design apotheosis with this car.

  • Volkswagen brings new (ish) Jetta to New York along with Golf Sportwagen 15 hours ago
    Volkswagen brings new (ish) Jetta to New York along with Golf Sportwagen

    With its new President and CEO of America, Michael Horn, on stage in New York after just 100 days on the job, Volkswagen debuted its 2015 Jetta. You'd be forgiven for noticing little differences compared to the outgoing model, and in the words of Horn himself, the changes are indeed subtle. The most notable of those subtleties is the all-new 2.0 liter turbo diesel motor, offering 45 mpg highway and a modest increase of 10 hp. For VW, diesel is where it's at.

  • With Vantage GT, Aston Martin races below $100,000 15 hours ago
    With Vantage GT, Aston Martin races below $100,000

    Aston Martin is going downmarket, sort of. The 2015 Vantage GT, a sport-styled variant of Aston’s legendary flagship car, draws style and performance tips from their GT4 race cars, which will be running in North America this year. It’s also priced at $99,900, which shows that the market for these kinds of consumer sports cars has boomed in recent years.

  • ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says
    ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — The “huge” statues at a Hindu temple in Batu Caves and Buddhist temple in Penang are an affront to Islam as the religion forbids idolatry, a retired Court of Appeals judge...

  • StarHub 4G users to be charged from June as promo ends
    StarHub 4G users to be charged from June as promo ends

    Are you on the 4G or LTE mobile data network under StarHub? If so, you’ll have to start paying for the service.

  • Over 280 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes
    Over 280 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

    By Narae Kim JINDO South Korea (Reuters) - More than 280 people, many of them students from the same high school, were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea on Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years. It was not immediately clear why the Sewol ferry listed heavily on to its side and capsized in apparently calm conditions off South Korea's southwest coast, but some survivors spoke of a loud noise prior to the disaster.