Hermes goes to the races, Westwood goes street in Paris

A model wears a creation for Elie Saab Spring/Summer 2019 ready-to-wear fashion collection presented in Paris, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Hermes galvanized its links with the equestrian Saturday by holding its Paris Fashion Week runway show at the French capital's celebrated Longchamp Racecourse

PARIS — Hermes galvanized its links with the equestrian Saturday by holding its Paris Fashion Week runway show at the French capital's celebrated Longchamp Racecourse. Vivienne Westwood, meanwhile, went street, Elie Saab got playful and the runways in general got a lot of models dressed in black and white.

Here are some highlights from the Spring 2019 shows at Paris Fashion Week:

HERMES GOES TO THE RACES

Hermes — the fashion house named after the speedy, messenger god — has long been associated with horse racing and affirmed its heritage by launching the show-jumping competition Saut Hermes in 2009.

The label synonymous with luxury further embraced the legacy by taking Paris Fashion Week to the renovated Longchamp for a Saturday evening display.

The guests, geared up for styles that spoke of horses, were somewhat disappointed by the scarce equestrian references. One that fit the bill was a white dress with eyelets that was inspired by a horse groomer's apron.

The 47 looks by French designer Nadege Vanhee-Cybulski in on-trend neutral colors were superlative for a host of other reasons. Most twinned the designer's signature minimalism with a sporty edge.

Clean silhouettes — crisp hems, simple geometric shapes, tight proportions and minimal accessories — set the tone.

Many of the individual items were must-haves, such as a pair of slightly flared burgundy pants that were made of crisscrossed bands of material.

And people better start placing their orders for the new two-tone Kelly bag!

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VIVIENNE WESTWOOD HITS THE STREET

Celebrity drag queen Violet Chachki and Milk from "Ru Paul's Drag Race" held court in a warehouse at Vivienne Westwood's show.

The warehouse was an appropriate setting for an eclectic assortment of styles that riffed on the "street" in streetwear. The models, both men and women, rode skateboards and scooters.

Prints sometimes resembled graffiti, and there were sneakers, sweatpants and even the odd dog collar.

Andreas Kronthaler, 66, who took over the creative reins his 77-year-old wife and design partner some years ago, mixed the draped gowns that are a Westwood signature with thigh-length menswear shirts, prints and text.

One of the best looks was a giant pile of fabric bags that were wrapped around the torso of a female model, perhaps a statement about the hectic pace of daily life.

It cut a nice image against the sculptural decor made of reams of paper.

Another notable feature was a play on hypermasculinity.

Scantily-clad muscle men wore skintight vests, and one walked in platform shoes with fluffy tulle around the ankles.

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FASHION TREND: BLACK AND WHITE

Spring is a time to get your color on. Usually.

The ready-to-wear collections in Paris have bucked this fashion rule, creating a spring and summer of white, black and other design neutrals.

Virgil Abloh's label Off-White used lots of, well, white on its runway. Hedi Slimane, making his highly-anticipated Celine debut, favored the darkest hues for his nighttime show.

Rick Owens channeled demons and witches with his black-centric show that featured a giant burning sculpture spitting out smoke. The sculpture smoldered alongside white, beige and gray designs.

The trend could reflect the polarized political discourse in West or just be an aesthetic choice; either way, it's unavoidable.

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ELIE SAAB GETS PLAYFUL

Popular Lebanese designer Elie Saab is riding high after the coup of having Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank wear a gown he designed for her wedding last month.

The ethereal wedding gown was made of 25 meters (82 feet) of Chantilly lace, eight meters (26 feet) of silk chiffon and six meters (nearly 20 feet) of organza silk and took 150 hours to create.

At Saturday's show, it may have been ready-to-wear style on the runway, but it was clear that it was the same Saab atelier that had done the work.

The devil was in the detail.

The 58 styles skipped the usual full-throttle, cinched-waist sensuality and energy of Saab's designs, an exception being thigh-high boots.

In its place was a more playful version of Saab that was willing to explore new ideas — for better and for worse.

Overpowering, dark floral prints on pants, minis and billowing skirts contrasted with angelic lace and fastidious detailing that evoked the 1970s.

A leopard print look fared badly, its single exposed shoulder looking out of balance.

But gowns such as a striped boho number showed that Saab was daring to venture out of his bread-and-butter comfort zone.

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Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K

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