The Second Biggest Fashion Show in Cannes

Forget Nicole Kidman in an Alexander McQueen sheer peach lace halter dress; forget Elle Fanning in a Rodarte lavender tulle ball gown and Tilda Swinton in a sparkling black Chanel jumpsuit.

It is possible that the most jaw-dropping fashion spectacle in Cannes this week took place not on the film festival’s red carpet, but high in the hills above the Riviera, where the German goth rock designer Philipp Plein showed his 2018 men’s and women’s cruise collections, the better to take advantage of the critical mass of celebrities and models that had descended on the Côte d’Azur.

The designer Philipp Plein, left, and the boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. CreditMatteo Prandoni/

In the palm-fronded garden of his 11-bedroom belle epoque manse, La Jungle du Roi (“Jungle of the King”), with its mounted zebra heads, fur pillows and abundant mirrors, beside his neo-Roman swimming pool, 250 guests — “friends, clients and editors,” including Eva Longoria, Bella Thorne and Carine Roitfeld — guzzled Philipp Plein-brand champagne and snacked on gummy bears before perching on clear plastic Napoleon chairs to watch the show.

Which included Paris Hilton in a black silk negligee gown with plunging lace décolleté and black suede thigh-high lace-up stiletto boots. Along with the boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a white crocodile motorcycle jacket speckled with colorful winged dollar bills, and black motorcycle pants. And the American felon turned model Jeremy Meeks, a.k.a. the Blue Eyed Bandit, shirtless, wearing a black jean jacket and matching pants, his Philipp Plein-emblazoned underwear rising high above the waistband.

“We had to fight with the embassy to get him here,” Mr. Plein said before the show, lounging in his silver and white living room, wearing a Philipp Plein white T-shirt with a neon green dollar sign as the logo, drooping faded Philipp Plein jeans and white Philipp Plein sneakers tagged by the graffiti artist Alec Monopoly. Mr. Plein was speaking almost entirely in exclamation points, his preferred mode.

The Philipp Plein 2018 Cruise Collection Credit

Still, his own style was relatively tame compared with what appeared on his raspberry-red runway: faded denim bikinis with patch pockets on the derrière; gold sequined pajama pants; crystal-embedded booty shorts; snakeskin stiletto boots; and his signature vintage German army jackets embroidered with Swarovski crystal roses and skulls.

The show concluded with the model Winnie Harlow in a long white jean skirt and oversize white T-shirt strolling barefoot to “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses, as Mr. Monopoly, wearing a Lone Ranger mask, spray-painted her clothes with Day-Glo tags. The crowd erupted in cheers, and several crystal champagne flutes shattered on the limestone terrace.

Even with Mr. Monopoly’s performance, compared with past Plein shows that have included roller coasters and monster trucks, the event was almost subdued — in part because it was held in Mr. Plein’s home as opposed to, say, the New York Public Library, where his fall 2017 show took place.

 The graffiti artist Alec Monopoly, left, and the model Winnie Harlow. CreditMatteo Prandoni/

As it turned out, Mr. Plein had originally wanted to go back to New York (where he has another house; he has four) with this show, and stage it before the Met Gala in early May, but the clothes were not going to be ready in time. So he decided on Cannes, the next best glitterati thing, and his own home as inspiration.

He is not the first designer to see the synergies in the sud. Over the years, fashion has piggybacked on the film festival’s draw of the shiny and photogenic numerous times, be it for store openings, Victoria’s Secret fashion shows or Naomi Campbell’s annual Fashion for Relief fund-raiser, held last Sunday in a hangar at the nearby private jet airport. In that tradition, Mr. Plein transported his team of 20 designers from his three brands — Philipp Plein, Philipp Plein Sport and Billionaire — to his house (they had to share the bedrooms), and they cooked up the collection.

The show also publicly kicked off the company’s coming retail expansion. It has 100 stores worldwide, and Roberto Magnani, the new head of global sales — recruited from Tod’s Group — said that by year’s end that figure would double.

Mr. Plein said: “The company should be up to $300 million in turnover, with no debt and no investors; not one cent owned to one bank in the world. It’s a self-driving business.”

While the cruise presentation was indeed “a big show,” as Mr. Plein had promised, it was also most likely a one-off. “It’s strange having all these people in my house!” Mr. Plein howled into the microphone of his brand’s “official D.J.,” Michael Prado, as he introduced what was to come. The crowd howled back. Then he added, “Don’t try this at home!”

As if anyone could.

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