Dressing Down in Paris: Rick Owens, Balmain, Demeulemeester, and AF Vandevorst

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Published October 1, 2010

RICK OWENS, BALMAIN

Judging by yesterday’s shows, it seems that designers in Paris are looking for a way out of the overdressing and luxification that have defined the French shows in recent seasons.
 
Rick Owens embraced his feminine side in a collection of sweeping dresses that swept away his hard, dark edgy persona. Owens is a sculptor and the long cotton drapes he presented topped with same color leather jackets (fronts cropped to the chest and backs hanging loose like a shirt) show him in top form and moving into new, softer territory. What followed was calm and luxurious, in his  personal palette of putty, cream, olive, and black for Grecian draping, origami fold shirts, super wide floor-grazing pants and backless halter looks with gigantic horn combs keeping long hair in check.    
 
Christophe Decarnin at Balmain has had enough of dress-up. Paris’s current enfant terrible sent out his favorite leather biker jackets, artfully studded, for a punk revival. This is a designer who knows that girls, especially the well-heeled ones, just want to have fun, and a jacket to wear with jeans never fails. Decarnin’s revved up basics–studded minis and short shorts, holey T’s featured a fading American flag, and drainpipe jeans covered with zips in black leather or Sid Vicious plaid– cut like a knife through all that fluffy stuff.

 

AF VANDEVORST; ANN DEMEULEMEESTER

 
Ann Demeulemeester has always stuck by her guns.  Her style is minimal, never too far from casual, and a bit moody.  But this season, she’s lightened up.  Exit all the dangling, feathery bits, and flowing shirt shapes for a cleaner, more linear tailored look that she calls “Graphic Abstraction.” The title seems to be a reference to the prints, which showed up in almost every look and are indeed abstract. Great here are wraparound jackets and drainpipe cropped pants worn with matching boots in black, white, or black-and-white.
 
AF Vandevorst found everything they needed in tarnished silver.  The Belgian duo started out with geometric patterned silver  brocade for side draped short sheaths and elaborately pieced jackets that looked a bit like ancient armor. Liquid silver Grecian draping took over from there paired with slashed mud-colored leggings that look a bit like mummy wraps and fencer’s type crossover jackets in khaki.