Paris Scaled Back



An uncertain world has taken fashion down a peg or two. The numbers may be good for the big luxury houses, but the runways in Paris feel decidedly post-party.

This, of course, was felt acutely at Christian Dior’s show on Friday. Had Galliano already reacted to the change, or was this just a question of last-minute restyling? The melodrama of a pre-show speech by Dior president Sidney Toledano and a finale featuring the white-coated atelier notwithstanding, it was the post-glam of this show that really hit home.

The disaster took years off Dior. In a surreal twist, this “gut wrenching episode” generated a refreshed, younger look for the house. Hair hung loose in a pre-Raphaelite way, the Dior models came out in floor-sweeping capes and crunchy tweed jackets with fur collars. Almost all of them sported a cardigan peaking out from below their jacket and floppy hats. Full skirts and shorts in moiré or floral jacquard silks worn with over-the-knee, cuffed boots and gauntlet gloves looked positively girlish. How such an overnight transformation is possible is the question.




Isabel Marant has been into casual chic since her start. She built her business dressing Parisians, the kind who run through their day, grab the Metro, pick their baby up at the “creche” after work, then slip into something slinky before going to an art party. And amazingly she now runs her own business while other designers are working for luxury brands. So it’s not about bags and fragrance, but real women’s clothes. This season, Marant visited the US for American Indian fringed boots, patchwork denim blue workshirts, Navajo blanket pattern sweaters and fluffy lambswool coats. All the down-home stuff was tucked under big chic black oversized coats: This is Paris, after all.

Change was in the air at Lanvin too, where Alber Elbaz posed his models wearing witches hats under an eerie weeping willow tree. Boxy jackets over matching minis, low heeled shoes and sensible bags were a bit of a shock at first. But then the details emerged. Elbaz edged his tailoring and dress necklines with  metallic bands. For the dresses, the bands connected to medallions, so the jewlery became part of the clothes. Off-one shoulder dresses and cape shapes for coats, dresses and tunics had a flowing look.

Yohji Yamamoto was back to his old tricks: combining Edwardian lady dressing with punk and goth elements. Edwardian peaked sleeve jackets showed in tough black leather over flesh-bearing mesh lace dresses that  covered the torso in flower patterns, or a tattoo-like bra. Everybody wore Doc Martin’s type boots with lacy fishnets, skirts looked like bloomers and black sunglasses were de rigueur.

Oh Pedro Lourenço is a young man from Brazil who makes great coats. This season, Lourenço was inspired by Marlene Dietrich’s 1932 Blonde Venus. She’s an infamous woman who is sumptuously dressed, just right for Lourenço’s intricate combinations of fur, leather wool and transparent panels  which make coats look like they are made from a bunch of floating parts.