Singers Solange and Lisa star in Paris fashion week's finale - GulfToday

Singers Solange and Lisa star in Paris fashion week's finale

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Designer Kenzo Takada accepts applause as he walks with singer Solange Knowles after the show.

The curtain came down on Paris men's fashion Sunday with two high-concept shows that had walk-on roles for Solange and K-pop sensation Lisa.

Kenzo's design duo Carol Lim and Humberto Leon said goodbye to the French label with Solange as the surprise performer in the same Paris stadium which Elton John had packed to the rafters a few nights previously.

The Californians' ended their eight-year reign with a bang as the American star appeared on a platform to sing "I'm a Witness" in between the men's and womenswear lines.

The brilliantly choreographed event had started with a similar wow moment when a huge curtain was pulled away in front of 600 or so fashionistas to reveal several thousand more people on the other side.

Having conducted her 11-piece black-clad brass band, Beyonce's younger sister then walked arm-in-arm with the designers to acknowledge the ovation at the end, with the feminist English rapper M.I.A in the front row.

Balmain's Olivier Rousteing got the weekend rocking late on Friday night by making the hot French DJ Kiddy Smile the centre of his show-cum-concert.

So what's on the mind of this deep thinker? Her childhood, naturally — "I grew up a little girl with dreams," she sings over creamy electric piano in Dreams — along with the comforts and temptations of intimacy and consumerism. "I just wanna wake up to the suns and Saint Laurent," she sings — raps, really — in the reggae-inflected Binz, "Hundred thousand dollars on the fronts and the blunts."

As on A Seat at the Table, Solange is also pondering the indelibility of African American culture. In Almeda, she runs through a long list of "black things" — "black skin, black braids, black waves" — before insisting, "Black faith still can't be washed away." Yet When I Get Home feels more abstract than its predecessor; there's nothing here as declamatory as the earlier project's Don't Touch My Hair or as nakedly confessional as Cranes in the Sky.

Often, Solange (who's high on the bill for next month's Coachella festival) will work a key phrase over and over, as in the opener, Things I Imagined, in which she seems to be testing out the words, figuring out precisely what they mean through the process of using them. Along with the song's vintage synth textures, the approach recalls early-70s Stevie Wonder, and not for the last time on the very Innervisions-y When I Get Home.

Beyond the folks from Texas, Solange's album features input from a wide array of collaborators, including Pharrell Williams, The-Dream, Panda Bear, the Internet's Steve Lacy, Sampha, Metro Boomin, Gucci Mane and Tyler, the Creator. (Older voices show up in sampled form, most poignantly in an interlude that has Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad — both raised in Houston like Solange and her famous sister — reciting a poem written by their mother, Vivian Ayers.)

Each contributes to a lovingly assembled production that rarely goes where you expect it to — but, like Solange herself, always puts across a clear sense of place.

TNS