London boasted an injection of youth, and aside from a very few highlights, Milan, it was generally agreed both on and off
the record, was a disappointment. So for the masses of retailers and press on the final leg of their fashion capital tour,
Paris was left with the onus of blowing everyone out of the water.
Since Nicolas Ghesquière started producing season-defining collections at Balenciaga (and, let’s be honest, that’s only been going on for a few seasons)
everyone has looked to this reborn French couture house to set the pace, with a morning show early in the week. And set the
pace it did — with whippet-thin silhouettes that mined a space-age vein: strong, pointed shoulders, linear accents, and slicks
of shine and metal all called to mind a world somewhere between Star Wars and Thierry Mugler. Ghesquière’s take on the future, lauded wildly in the press, was a literal one, and it makes one question not just the
immediate future of fashion but also the power of brands. Whisperers at the Café de Flore’s smoke-surrounded tables dared
to question the Balenciaga collection, but only in sotto voce, for this is a burgeoning behemoth too big to dismiss.
At Dior, which when it comes to placing high-rate advertising makes Balenciaga look like a corner store, the reaction was much different.
Following a call to produce more wearable ready-to-wear, John Galliano did just that, reprising fall’s couture in a watered-down
version, which would have produced beautiful plated jackets, had they not been so awkwardly and matronly sized. Unfortunately,
no one remembers the rather divine eveningwear, just as few managed to take in the delicate, color-infused beauty of the dresses
in Galliano’s eponymous collection, after an opening that featured such boring suiting.
At Lanvin, Alber Elbaz did the reverse, sending the hard and surprising pieces out first — meshing an ’80s vibe with an industrial
futurescape of surface shine, zippers, and pockets — putting the artistry of a draped dress made from a single piece of fabric
in danger of being overlooked. It wasn’t though, for Elbaz, pushing Lanvin in a different direction, managed to create a
look for a future that doesn’t seem scary.
Who will rate Alexander McQueen‘s collection when it doesn’t come with classical musicians and a finale dress of fresh flowers? Anyone with a brain. Behind
the drama was a collection that showed McQueen’s maturity, making the event a series of showstoppers, and the collection a
range of modern, exquisitely-cut pieces with an archival bent, and a place in any woman’s wardrobe.
Karl Lagerfeld, on the other hand, needs to stop trying so hard. What other conclusion can one come to when the most perfect, pleated little
black dresses, the most finely worked stones, and the most lightly handled wools are gussied up with spangled hot pants in
a blindingly white space? Behind the effects is Lagerfeld’s genius at bringing the breezy insouciance of peerless talent to
everything he does — but for those unfamiliar with that talent, or unable to identify it, the effects only hamper the view.
Albert Kreimler, the designer of Akris, is like Lagerfeld, albeit a very subdued version. His talent is extraordinary, his
eye one of the surest there is, and yet the world goes up in thunder when he shows nude swimsuits under tailoring and sheer
dresses with linear daubs of St.
Gallen embroidery. Calm down conservatives, those dresses will be lined by the time they hit the shops. Like Kreimler, Martin
Grant found a sporty way to translate his unique brand of timeless elegance, slashing the sleeves of narrow-pleated dresses,
and making a floor-sweeping swathe of marl gray jersey a masterpiece of sensational restraint.
Miu Miu‘s new home on the Paris calendar is bearing delicious fruit, and for spring that fruit has reached a ripe intensity: color
blocks of dark plums and navy broke up shirts and straight dresses. The long-line, high-waisted look was more grown up than
previous collections, and in direct contrast to Chloé, where the infantile baby doll girls struggled to walk in blocky wedges.
Even if they did switch to Alison Steadman hostess dresses for evening, that look is past its prime.
When two men put their heads together and think up the ideal wardrobe for their fun friends why should the result be so successful?
At Requiem it is, where heather gazar and white Panama tubular dresses, and a shirt-collared coat with short sleeves blowing
into puffs, despite their girlish overtones, are never juvenile. David Szeto takes a stab at soft femininity too, but from
a different starting point. Tucked and softly folded dresses, gently rolled knit sleeves, and soft marquise hip bows are
the joyous culmination of an obsessive development of dart and drape.
What is it that Dries Van Noten does so right? His sports clothes reinvented in silky textures, so a sweatshirt hood attains
the quality of a cowl or expertly handled drape, were exquisite amid a sea of calm color, dotted with rare splashes of print
Hussein Chalayan, when he’s at his best, is the master of making clothing and concept relevant, and credible, bedmates. His exploration of
time in fashion, using microchip-controlled clothes that morphed through the decades, turned rows of frosty faced editors
into overjoyed, yelping
puppies. Sure, it was all about the show, but in this exceptional case
John Galliano s/s ’07
Balenciaga s/s ’07
Lanvin s/s ’07
Karl Lagerfeld s/s ’07
Alexander McQueen s/s ’07
Hussein Chalayan s/s ’07