Paris Haute Couture: Armani Privé spring/summer 2012
The Armani Privé front row was littered with TV and films rising stars, including lucky Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain who heard the news as she took her seat.
As Lady Mary in Downton Abbey , Michelle Dockery wore long skirts and whale-bone stays, but on the front row at the Armani Privé show in Paris she was in Armani shoulder pads and spikey shoes - a look she seemed to be enjoying.
"I like a fierce shoulder," she agreed, adding that the costumes have been one of the pleasures of filming Downton Abbey - that and receiving a career boost of which other 31-year-old actresses dream, and perks that include being flown to couture shows.
Dockery was seated front row alongside fellow Brit success story, Ruth Wilson of Luther and Jane Eyre fame, whose white Armani jacket had shoulders that could double as weapons; Cameron Diaz, and formerly little known The Help actress, Jessica Chastain, who discovered as she took her seat that she had been nominated for an Oscar. As word spread around the venue the fashion crowd broke with tradition and into a cheer.
Not entirely co-incidentally, there were statement silhouettes aplenty in Armani's couture show including a giant lime green pod-cape that's probably destined for Lady Gaga. More mainstream were the irridiscent jackets, slim trousers and egg shaped skirts, although the latter came with a twist, literally, in the guise of challenging panniers that may prove too edgy for the average red carpeteer.
Backstage Giorgio Armani said his inspiration had been metamorphosis - the biological process and the Kafka novella in which a man is transformed into a monstrous insects. There were all manner of insect and snake-like textures on these clothes, but Dockerty and Wilson know this is really a label for classic Hollywood glamour. Both have been cleverly adopted into the capacious folds of the label just as their careers are taking off.
Wilson leaves London soon to work opposite Johnny Depp on The Lone Ranger , which is being produced by the same Disney team that made Pirates of the Caribbean . Dockery begins filming the third series of Downton next month. She was contractually coy about Lady Mary's obstacle-strewn romance with Matthew Crawley, refusing to reveal whether their marriage actually goes ahead but she did reveal she's looking forward to moving into fluid flapper dresses of the 20s. "No more corsets," she added, thereby shocking designers who rely on them for impact (this show was no exception). "I can't wait".