Less is more, carried off with varying degrees of success, set the tone for the first day of the Paris spring collections.
Le Moine Tricote, Alice Lemoine's fledgling knitting operation, proved just how much can be done with a pair of oversize needles. Lemoine began knitting for Rick Owens' Paris shop and has been designing for her own label for a few seasons now. Her intimate production, working with a nimble-fingered team in North Africa, becomes more refined each season.
In homespun vegetable-dye yarns, Lemoine's complex spiderwebs swirl around the body in patchwork knit patterns and colors for twisted sweater jackets, trumpet skirts, and hourglass dresses that echo Azzedine Alaïa. This season, she added a thin veil of chiffon to turn what was once little more than an accessory into a complete dress, for example.
Cédric Charlier launched last season, and like an excellent jazz session musician—he's put in serious time at Lanvin, with Michael Kors when he designed Céline, and on his own at Cacharel—can turn out those background pieces that round out a collection. The show opened with its best look, a short perfecto coat dress in white, detailed with gleaming zips. After that it was a litany of scoop-neck, sleeveless dresses with floaty pieces that were perfectly proportioned and polished, but a bit on the quiet side.
After a stint at Delvaux, the storied leather house, Belgium's Veronique Branquinho is back to her namesake brand, and that mysterious, melancholy girl that is her trademark stepped back into view in a great gold jean jacket, the collection's best piece. Branquinho's vintage obsession remains intact. Cocktails in suburbia cast in glittery nude crystal pleats with the occasional appearance of understated brown and forest green pantsuits; the cape-back satin tunics and jumpsuits with extra-large shirt sleeves evoke Valley of the Dolls.
Anthony Vaccarello's mix of Equipment shirt tailoring and draping presents a roller coaster of zippers, flap pockets and epaulettes, petal skirts and twisting in pieces that seemed held together by divine intervention. This mélange of uniform construction and queen-of-the-jungle wrapping in black and white took off at first, but it all became very complicated. The metallic fabrics, bare torsos, back plunges, snakey zips, low-slung knee pants, and diaper-like skirts veered off course.
Simon Porte Jacquemus already counts Dover Street Market on his store list and has a Paris fan club for his tent-like Jacquemus collection. The audience followed the models with mini flash lights for his first show which offered more of his simple Simon shapes. Smock-like jackets and shorts with scallop hems in pristine cotton, pinafores in transparent stripes, lab coats cinched at the waist and simple, graphic stripe shifts made for a promising debut.