Valentino: Just call him Mr. Rourke, because, come spring, Valentino will make all his ladies’ fantasies come true. Fashion’s trade winds have changed course this season, taking things in a decidedly feminine direction, and Valentino has made the most of it. His collection was light, fresh and younger than in recent memory. It was, in fact, delightful.Valentino caught the corsetry wave, showing laced-up looks for day, including a white bowed lace top with its corset built in, which was shown paired with a pristine lace-edged miniskirt in sleek satin. Mining a nautical vein, he then sailed on, sending out clothes that would look great on the stylish women invited aboard his own yacht. A simple navy sweater was shown with classic white pants, while a slim officer’s coat was dotted with bauble buttons. But things really took off when Valentino dove headlong into color, serving up flirty dresses and glamorous gowns in chartreuse, aqua, lavender and hot pink. A bitsy floral camisole and miniskirt came wrapped around with lavender ribbon. Schools of butterflies fluttered by on a kimono top, while, prettier still, some landed on the ankle straps of Valentino’s fabulous high heels or covered a bolero. Of course, he also did gowns galore, from dramatically wrapped numbers to those inset with fishnet portholes at the waist. Quite a catch for Oscar night.


Jean Paul Gaultier: Yee-haw, as they say way out West. Jean Paul Gaultier saddled up for a wild Western romp of a spring collection, showing looks that gave a nod to saloon belles like Mae West and the cowpokes who love them. An apron dress trimmed like overalls trailed its shoulder straps behind like ribbons. His dark denim jeans, cut to accommodate cowboy boots, came tricked out with corset lacing. Gauzy sweaters were crocheted with built-in pasties. And a pinstriped vest was shown over a pretty indigo dress dotted with prairie flowers. Using his patented layering method throughout, Gaultier cinched in blousy silk dresses, oversized shirts and everything else with curvy, laced-tight girdles that rode down over the hips. A frilled white eyelet dress that otherwise would have billowed came clamped down under a leather vest and matching girdle, while coats and suit jackets were held down and laced in, too. Phew.Sometimes, just like a bucking bronco, it all went a little out of control. And for those who appreciate Gaultier for his classic French sensibilities, this may not have been the collection of all time. It was, however, full of kick, and there were fabulous items to be found pinned down under all his girdling gear.
John Galliano: Well, hello, dolly. As only he can, John Galliano went into manic Little Bo Peep mode for spring, offering up an outrageously pumped-up, poufed-out, swagged and bow-bedecked collection. He piled his loopy Lolitas, hysterically dressed in eyelet, rosebud prints and trimmed in swan, with pearls, fringes, ribbons and lace, giving even that empress of dolls, Madame Alexander, a run for her money. One model, with a small straw hat surfing atop a tidal wave of hair, wore a pale blue babydoll dress decorated with feather puffs the size of snowballs. But others among the lineup were dressed like ditsy mid-19th century courtesans, with their corsets cranked in tight and showing plenty of leg. For the more modern, pants-wearing moll, Galliano showed another option: a corset worn with short-shorts and matching pants-legs, held by garter straps, of course. Fun, to be sure. But we’ve seen Galliano’s girls play the cutie-pie sexpot before. Sometimes his overkill leaves you wanting less, in the way of mayhem, or more, in the way of real clothes.

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