The soundtrack at La Perla's first fashion show set the tone for the evening. “Can’t Hold Us Down” by Christina Aguilera blasted through the speakers as part of a pop-heavy soundtrack--Beyonce! Pharrell!--that emphasized the idea of freedom (and not so quietly, both the aforementioned artists’ song are titled “Freedom”).
“So what am I not supposed to have an opinion/Should I keep quiet just because I'm a women/Call me a bitch cause I speak what's on my mind/Guess it's easier for you to swallow if I sat and smiled,” sings Aguilera in the 2002 pop song.
Subtly was never the singer’s strong suit, but the mentality of girl power was resounding backstage as the world’s top models, new and old, darted around. Among the women running around backstage: Liu Wen, Isabeli Fontana, Jourdan Dunn, Joan Smalls, Dilone, Stella Maxwell, Sasha Pivovarova, Lais Ribeiro, Lindsey Wixson, and Kendall Jenner, the current face of the brand.
With so many models prancing around in their underwear, it was hard not to liken the proceedings to the lingerie extravaganza that is the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. There were even La Perla-branded silk robes.
But while Victoria’s Secret brought its pink-hued event to Paris as a whimsical change of scenery, La Perla creative director Julia Haart intentionally chose New York, as part of her mission to more closely align the brand with more serious ready-to-wear.
This intent was evident in the collection, as well, which included full suits and sequined evening gowns in addition to traditional lingerie offerings, and also with the general energy backstage. This was no Victoria's Secret multi-day, multi-media extravaganza, but a typical chaotic New York Fashion Week scene, filled with the stress of having to run exactly on schedule.
Of course, that was until a gust of serenity and calmness overtook the crowded alcove when Gwyneth Paltrow, a blur of blonde hair and a wide smile, seemingly floated through the area, searching for Haart before taking her seat front row. It was the human equivalent of a deep exhale. (Paltrow, like Jenner, declined interviews. Better for the zen).
“This is my first show; I’m so excited,” gushed Taylor, before being promptly corrected by her mom, who was by her side. “I went to a Vogue party last night, but this is my first show. I was already in New York—I’m actually already recording my album, so I spent my snow day in the studio.”
Even as Paltrow claimed her seat in the front row, it was the models perched within the manor--divided into little tableaus in makeshift rooms--that were the real starry draw.
Naomi Campbell opened the show in a navy silk slip, paving the way once again for others to follow her lead. The crowd ate it up (i.e. took many, many Instagram pictures). Kendall Jenner closed the show, wearing a nearly nude gown that left little to the imagination, but all things considered, the La Perla collection wasn't about nudity. Instead of burning bras, these new-wave feminists were flaunting them.
“Nobody can hold us down,” sang Aguilera. “Never can, never will.”
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