Stella McCartney: Go with the flou. That’s what Stella McCartney is doing these days, and for spring, that resulted in a strong collection. In recent seasons, McCartney has toned down the rock-chick cheekiness that on the runway has sometimes read as vulgarity. But then, developing restraint is part of the process of growing up as a designer, and here McCartney seemed intent on flaunting her maturation process, while holding on to the offbeat girliness that gives her work its charm. She has grown up in other ways as well, and can now rightfully be referred to as a matron, after her marriage in August to Alasdhair Willis, who some in the audience thought bears an uncanny resemblence to Ed Sullivan-era Paul. Alasdhair settled into the front row along side Sir Paul and his pregnant wife, Heather.They all enjoyed a gentle collection focused on ombrèd chiffon with a bit of boho wafting about in its layers. Stella rendered it mostly as dresses but sometimes worked it into little tops that drifted over cropped pants, shorts or little skirts. She layered, sliced and slashed, keeping the dresses politely bare on top, or sliding them over little ballerina sweaters. And she varied her leitmotif slightly with knitted Ts over Tinkerbell skirts. Still, while in the past McCartney has been prone to yin-yang musings, here she avoided tailoring almost completely, save for a couple of good-looking suits. That made for a clear, focused delivery, one that might have benefited from a risk or two, but still looked feminine in a cool-girl, unprissy way. Just how unprissy? It takes a certain mettle to have girls in hanky-hemmed chiffon gliding to the strains of “Don’t Ride the White Horse.”

Lanvin: Alber Elbaz is the kind of guy everybody roots for, so it’s no wonder that the fans in the audience at Lanvin looked a little anxious on Sunday afternoon. Would he send out a collection as chic as the fabulous one he did for fall? Could he match the might of those fetching bows? Well, rest easy. Alber can not only create terrific clothes for the house — and whip up plenty of buzz — but he can do it again. Spring’s look was simple and elegant, but revolved around the mind-bending concept of wrapping the body in a single piece of cloth, with every dress closing around a single solitary seam. It might have been tricky for Elbaz to pull off, but the clothes didn’t show it. Working mostly in satin, he churned out gentle, sleek dresses by the dozens. A pinkish rose dress pulled tight across the front and swooped up into a bustled bow behind. An aqua version plunged in front and gently gathered at the hip where it was held with an oversized hook-and-eye. Another in gold lace, a straightforward tank dress from the front, hung low in the back and boasted a bustle. In a rainbow of hues, Elbaz exhausted all his options — choosing a bustle or fluffy bow behind, gathers tacked over here or over there, plunge-neck or scoop-neck, short dress or long skirt, tiny pleats or no. Maybe he dwelled too much on those rear-view effects, but Elbaz is right where he ought to be, and he’s proved it. Again.
Hermès:It looks like Martin Margiela will slink his way out of the house of Hermès just as quietly as he slunk in six years ago. Many imagined that, once inside, he would found an era of avant-garde, do deconstruction and play to the editorial set, but quiet reserve instead became the hallmark of his work there.True to form, there were no surprises in his final collection, which proposed a sporty, measured look, and provided plenty of clothes that the steadfast Hermès customer will welcome into her wardrobe. The most lively were as bright and clean as sailing flags. A shirt bordered with a wide band of orange tied jauntily at the waist was shown with an almost-quirky pair of orange pants. A white sweater was banded with orange around the middle. And the white layer of a doubled orange trench peeked out at the lapel, creating a bit of snap.His more laid-back fare included a very clever — and very Margiela — twin set, with the cardigan hinged to its mate via a crafty trompe l’oeil collar. It was a gesture towards what could have been. Ah well, adieu, Martin. The Hermès ladies salute you.

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