Paris Fashion Week Diary: Day One

Published February 29, 2012

How to instill a sense of innocence, mystery and drama in clothes? A new and, not-so-new, group of designers appears to be trying to do just that on the first full day of Paris’s Fall 2012 fashion week.

The quest began in earnest last night with young Julien David, the Frenchman who produces his clothes, scarves, and other accessories in Japan. With a vastly enlarged show venue this season, it’s obvious that the fashion world has discovered David, who applies his Parisian sensibility to sophisticatedly naive Japanese schoolgirl style. Minnie Mouse would feel right at home in his sweatshirt grey blouses with matching bubble skirts and oversized parka dresses in waterproof Tyrollean jacquard, worn with snow boots in Mount Fuji brocade. This season he worked in glittery, popcorn-textured quilting for life-size doll clothes. The school boy jackets with curvy, cropped trousers in neat houndstooth wools are pure Lolita, and a cartoon knife intarsia on the front of a light blue sweater has just the right naughty touch. In the middle of all this sweetness and light, David sent out a Yeti dressed in a matching sweater and skirt in his own “Yeti” wool covered with menacing looking tufts of yarn and a completely covered head with a few mean slits for a face. It was a simple piece of fashion folklore, but the audience, like children caught up in a fairytale, was stunned for a moment.

Damir Doma has a monastic way with tailoring and layering, and his collections deftly mix diverse ethnic cuts with a healthy dose of Robin Hood thrown in for good measure. The rarefied beauties in his show this morning glided by in glittery leather elf boots, shirts with romantic corolla ruff collars, and sweeping, bias skirts in patchwork suede lashed together with oversized stitching. This is a romantic, bookish group, dressed in tonal combinations of honey brown, forest green, plum or apricot. Soft jersey harem pant-style jodhpurs, fur pelt vests, dresses held in check with extra-wide obi belts, and flat-cut, Asian robe jackets and sweeping coats were standouts.

After a start with Rick Owens, where she served as the in-house hand knitter, Alice Lemoine has branched out on her own with her Le Moine Tricote label. Working with hand knitters in Morocco, Lemoine’s oversize spiderweb stitching traces the curves of the body in hourglass shapes which resemble patchwork coverlets, or dancers’ warm-ups. This season she has focused on yarn mixtures from simple vegetable dyed wools to silk yarns, fluffy angora and what looks like shoelaces modelled by Jenny Sandler, a former principal with New York’s Joffrey Ballet.