Jan 29, 4:08 PM EST

A.P.C. apologize after using "N-word" in Paris fashion show, as Timberland sever all ties


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PARIS (AP) -- Capping the Paris fashion season with a dose of controversy, French menswear company APC apologized for using a racist slur in a show last week - prompting collaborator, shoe giant Timberland, to sever all ties.

APC house founder Jean Touitou told The Associated Press on Thursday that he spoke "recklessly" by using the N-word in a live narration at the menswear show - reportedly in homage former APC collaborator, rapper Kanye West, who recorded a song entitled "Ni(asterisk)(asterisk)as In Paris" with Jay-Z.

But the damage was already done.

Here are the tidbits and highlights of the last day of spring-summer couture collections, including show reports for Zuhair Murad, Ralph & Russo and Viktor & Rolf.

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RACE ROW IN PARIS

While male models posed in camel coats and gray tracksuit pants with Timberland boots last Sunday, French-Tunisian designer Touitou took the microphone and launched into a live narration in French and English in which he used the N-word several times. It was accompanied by the holding up of a sign that read "Last Ni(hash)(hash)(at)$ IN PARIS."

In a statement emailed to The AP, Touitou said he "spoke recklessly using terms that were both ignorant and offensive. I apologize and am deeply regretful for my poor choice of words."

Touitou reportedly claimed that Kanye West had said he "loved" the idea, when contacted prior to the show.

His apology has come too late to salvage the collaboration with footwear giant Timberland.

In a statement Wednesday, its president Stewart Whitney called the remarks "offensive," and severed all ties with the brand.

"We have chosen to immediately terminate our involvement with the APC brand, including the footwear collaboration we had planned for this fall... We will not tolerate offensive language or racial slurs of any kind being associated with the Timberland brand," he said.

APC menswear (Atelier de Production et de Creation) is an influential men's house that started in 1987, and specializes in casual non-catwalk urban designs.

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ZUHAIR MURAD COUTURE IS A CELEBRITY FAVORITE

Amazing crinolines, floor-length capes, split dresses, sheer silks, revealing busts, waists cinched to within an inch of life - and all dripping wet with hundreds upon hundreds of shimmering crystal embroideries marked the show by Lebanese couture designer Zuhair Murad.

Little wonder he's a favorite with a whole swathe of red-carpet celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Katy Perry and Shakira. They just love to sparkle.

"Water emotions" was the title of the 45-piece show, justified by the focus on Chantilly, guipure lace, shimmering organza, paillettes and the macramé surface effects.

The palette too was watery, with pale diluted pinks, blues and yellows.

It's a fair statement to say that Murad never does anything mold-breaking, experimental or particularly imaginative.

But it's a formula that has women weak at the knees.

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VIKTOR AND ROLF'S THEATRE SHOW

"I put my heart and soul in my work and have lost my mind in the process," said Dutch design duo Viktor & Rolf of their couture show, quoting painter Vincent van Gogh.

It was a spot-on mantra for the infinitely eccentric display in overly theatrical, sculptural designs which featured huge, growing two-meter straw hats.

Though the collection did feature two-eared models, unlike the Dutch Post-Impressionist, who famously cut his off - it nevertheless carried his brand of madness.

Based on Van Gogh's famed, vibrant depictions of the countryside - the 20 A-line babydoll silhouettes featured prints which grew like a painting in progress.

Starting in white, with navy floral outlines, the skirts billowed out with the flowers gradually colored in, in sections of yellow, and then purple, and then red. Three-dimensional flora then sprouted from the skirts, forming rigid organic blooms framing the wacky looks.

Couture has been called an idea factory. These looks were completely unwearable, but, indeed, brimming with ideas.

RALPH AND RUSSO's 50'S GLAM

Ralph and Russo leaned to Hollywood's golden era of the sculpted Fifties in their perfectly executed couture display Thursday.

The up-and-coming designer Tamara Ralph explored the old-school glamour with sheeny, flower embroideries and three-dimensional appliques.

The finesse of the styles - such in as architectural peplums and wide, full skirts - show they clearly deserve to be taken seriously as a couture house. And they can already boast such as Beyoncé and Angelina Jolie.

However, sometimes in this show it felt as if the soul was slightly lacking in some of the operation - in the quest to achieve recognition and try so many different couture styles.

Still, many gowns and features - such as flourishes of silk organza ruffles, which fluttered as models walked, felt fresh and feminine, and were reminiscent of John Galliano-era Dior.

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Thomas Adamson can be followed at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

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