Comfortable Meets Sexy in Paris

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Published March 1, 2013

The second day of the Paris Fall 2013 collections began on a nostalgic, chic note with Christophe Lemaire’s reefer jackets, maxi trenches, and skinny sweater tights (worn like leggings to cover the top of boots). Lemaire’s collection is a lexicon for flawless, feminine dressing à la Française. Filled with streamlined military tailoring, and a balance of softness and graphics, the collection is rooted in the heavenly ’70s. What other stylish tricks is Lemaire hiding up his sleeve for Hermès next Tuesday?

Damir Doma showed in style at the beautiful Hotel Goulbenkian, where Raf Simons made his flower-filled couture debut for Christian Dior last summer. Doma’s sultry librarian is a raglan sleeve girl, who loves to play mix-and-match with textures: bronze low boots, punch-hole leathers, striped blanket wools, chunky black and white herringbones, and more team up in square, practical tailoring and sportswear shapes. It’s hard to spot the sexy side in these intellectually challenging clothes, but Doma is a sly one. Under the dark palette and square shapes, a long slice of leg flashes from under the back-zipped hourglass skirts

Irving Berlin’s “Cheek to Cheek” launched Dries van Noten into a fashion dance inspired by Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Van Noten’s style tropes are all present: roomy, big-tailored coats and trousers; the frothy, feminine flash of brilliant yellow-and-orange dresses covered with embroidered marabou feathers. The models looked as though they were reciting poetry while sleepwalking under the endless chandeliers of Paris’ City Hall’s banquet ballroom.

Mugler appears headed for the Milky Way. Nicola Formichetti and womenswear designer Sébastian Peigné have dropped the spectacle to focus on making Thierry’s futuristic heritage appealing and contemporary. The house’s long swoosh of a runway at the drafty Halle Freyssinet was filled with plenty of the sharp-edged, trumpet-shaped tailoring—the sort that Mugler’s diaphanous muse, Dauphine de Jerphanion, once wore to perfection.

A.P.C.’s Jean Touitou took to the floor under the atrium of his headquarters for his Fall collection. It was hard to decide what the main attraction was here: his deadpan pronouncements on style, politics, and everything in between, or the clothes.  Both were present, as well as a cool jazz break, courtesy of Thelonius Monk. “France may disappear, but we will always have French correctness,” said Touitou, referring to his country’s notoriously foolproof sense of style. Touitou paired Vanessa Seward’s one-shoulder, lamé tops and little silk dresses with A.P.C.’s latest find: authentic patent tango pumps made by a dance supplier in Buenos Aires. “It’s not sexy to describe anything as comfortable these days,” said Touitou, “but for those of you on your feet for six hours, these comfortable shoes are what you need.” Amen.