Paris Fashion Week Day 2: The End of Cocktail Hour

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Published October 2, 2009

Could all those feathers and shiny bits finally be heading south? After Thursday in Paris it sure looks that way. Even stiletto heels are starting to feel a bit passé and considering that English union bosses recently condemned them as a “sexist health hazard” and recommend they be outlawed at work, maybe it’s about time. (LEFT: BALMAIN, LOOK 20) At Balmain, Christophe Decarnin wasted no time in getting to the point. To the sound of “Rappers Delight,” The Sugarhill Group’s 1979 hit that turned the world on to hip hop twenty years ago, he filled his collection with jazzed up army fatigues, slashed the sequins like a Las Vegas showgirl on a rumble, and brought out dirty black leather jeans and shorts. Of course the boot heels were high and there was plenty of flash underneath those jackets, but it was worn in and smudged, more street rocker than dinner at the Ritz. T-shirts are so torn up there’s more holes than cotton, suede skirts are caveman tattered, sequin sweaters look as though they’ve been run over by a  truck and dragged down the street and the piece de resistance is an army shirt with tarnished epaulettes in the season’s fave color  khaki. Quick change is the order of the day. “I could have ordered a dozen more of those tuxedo jackets,” commented an American buyer looking at Rihanna in the front row. In fact the word cocktail is starting to sound a bit tarnished, after Nicolas Ghesquière wondered aloud backstage after yesterday’s show, “Just who are all those women who attend them?” Rick Owens has never been the cocktail type. He’s into goddesses, but they’re more of the earth, wind, fire and air sort. Lit by an ancient spotlight, the Owens acolytes moved forward in silk jackets with wind blown collars, transparent body stockings, apron skirts and loose shorts in a strict palette of flesh, black and white with touches of silver like lightening. There were plenty of his zippered leather jackets which have become a modern classic. And Owens is playing with a new shape: jackets and dresses like deflated parachutes with all the billowing volume pushed to the back. (RICK OWENS, LOOK 24) At the café along the Seine, next to the Beaux Arts where Owens’ held his show, Adrian Grenier, on a pit-stop with a girlfriend before he took off on his Velib’, looked surprised when a gaggle of ladies wielding champagne flutes and dressed for cocktails clamoured to have their picture taken with him.

Bruno Pieters is all about precision cuts and he reduces color to show only what he really loves.  This season was a trajectory from transparent nude dresses made from ruched cloud-like stocking knit to black and white constructions so sharp and stiff they looked like origami. Two short sheaths in black and white covered with icicle sequins are all the décor a modern girl needs. (BRUNO PIETERS, LOOK 2) Sharon Wauchob’s show was packed with store buyers who know a good thing when they see one. The Irish designer who works in Paris makes her own fabrics and so the clothes and the materials are inseparable. Wauchob’s currentobsessions are tablecloth  lace and Fortuny-like pleats for airy bias jackets, dresses, vests and jodhpurs that made the models legs look like chic pencils.