What Glitters Is Gold, What’s Feathered Will Fly

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Published March 5, 2010

RICK OWENS, BALMAIN

 

Rick Owens is one elegant dude. With Freddie Mercury and “You Take My Breath Away” as the soundtrack, out came jagged harlequin check patchworks and appliqués in  a dark mix of suedes and other leathers with diamond patterned tights. These coats—and it was a collection of coats—sometimes paired with a mille feuille skirt, were labor-intensive, precise, staggeringly beautiful and womanly. It looks like grown-up Owens, doubling back on Gareth Pugh’s geometric patchworks and showing him what he can do with softness.

Balmain held court in the Grand Hotel’s circular ballroom and what struck me were the groupies hanging out in front. I don’t think there’s any other show in Paris that attracts innocent bystanders like this. Unless they were hoping for a fleeting glimpse of Italian Vogue fashion editor Giovanna Battaglia’s great legs, or a gander at Anna Wintour‘s handlers—those two push-and-shove-for-hire dudes in black trenchcoats who part the crowd for her at every show—I don’t think their vigil was worth it. Fashion is about the clothes on the runway, not the crowd in the seats.   

Or was it? Balmain’s Christophe Decarnin did not disappoint. Decarnin let Prince do the singing and blondes do the modeling for a sparkling gold and leopard collection. The thing about Decarnin is that he’s personally a very subtle, understated man; when it comes to women’s clothes he goes over the top and then some. The Balmain runway is a kind of no-holds-barred free zone for the bold and beautiful to strut their stuff. And what better way to do that then in gold ?  Leopard spot jackets were covered with what looked like gold chain link and liquid silk gold wrap dresses exposed more than they covered.  Admiral gold button blazers looked sharp and the gold sequined jackets and gold fringed dresses are for women who want to break the piggy bank and put every last cent on their backs.  

This was a hard act to follow for Peter Copping, who closed the day with his first complete show for Nina Ricci. The notes described a “Winter Garden,” a mix of Belle Epoque opulence and gritty femininity. Willowy ladies in silk flower skirts topped with sleek black leather jackets and naughty-but-nice mixes of tweed suiting with a flash of Liberty print bra fit the bill.  Copping’s muse wraps up in voluminous moleskin coats, or cardigans with fake fur patched sleeves, then shows off in sultry tea dresses with lingerie drape fronts and sleek black backs. LEFT: NINA RICCI