By  on March 4, 2005

Celine: The copywriters on the payroll at Celine must have been working overtime when concocting the liner notes for Roberto Menichetti’s second collection for the house. What else could explain the strange block of verbiage? “A dash of audacity invades the clothes,” they read, while the palette was labeled a “dash of impertinence.” Well, some might call slightly overtweaked silhouettes in discordant colors audacious and impertinent. Others might prefer more direct terminology: unappealing, perhaps.In all fairness, Menichetti’s fall collection was an improvement over that for spring. There was more than a hint of chic, salable clothing here. Among these looks were a black turtleneck embellished with pearls belted over trousers and a few simple crepe satin dresses and top-skirt combos with draped and pleated necklines. But often Menichetti seemed to feel the need to trick things up with high-cut tulip hems, ruched keyhole necklines and mismatched fur collars. And is there is a good reason to cut a gown in weighty double-faced cashmere? It’s tough to rationalize, especially when another dress in satin crepe looked just fine.Maybe next season, Menichetti should set aside the audacity and impertinence idea and focus on other words —  pretty and luxurious come to mind.Veronique Branquinho: Not taking yourself too seriously is a good thing — particularly for fashion designers. Veronique Branquinho proved that she is innocent of that crime by sending out her all-black-clad models for their final lap to the strains of “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.” Wry smiles and “I get it” eyebrow lifts rippled through the crowd.But while that tidbit of wit was good for a laugh, Branquinho has no reason to issue her musical apologia. Her fall collection may not be the inspirational fodder for editorial stylists, but her monotoned textured knits, slim silk dresses, great tailored cashmere coats and chic trompe l’oeil culottes-cum-pleated skirts have just enough well-designed detail to turn heads at Barneys. In other words, clothes with commercial clout.Loewe: Jose Enrique Ona Selfa’s straightforward, luxurious collection was completed with a smattering of confident suede confections that drew on the house’s leather heritage. Since joining this LVMH-owned house a couple of years ago, Ona Selfa has shown an aptitude for zeroing in on the mood of the moment and mixing it into a comprehensive whole. His silhouette was easy and sporty: short pants paired with little jackets with hippie details, satin dresses with twisting hems and drop-shoulder sweaters. Thin blue stripes and an abstract red floral print gave his palette of mostly beige and white some zip. Fur trim abounded on jackets and knitwear. But best were his coats embroidered with a rich military motif. Though it lacked dazzling pyrotechnics, it was a well-rounded effort.Cacharel: Inacio Ribeiro and Suzanne Clements said their collection was a melting pot of some of their favorite things, from gaucho pants and peasant blouses to cowboy shirts and tartan coats. It made for a sound offering from a house that aims to please a young, fashion-conscious crowd. Ribeiro and Clements have a talent for prints, which they parlayed into a graphic geometric motif and floral patterns galore. Tiny pom-poms decorated the collar of a sweater or a coat and ruffled petticoats peeked out from underneath flirty full skirts. After several seasons at the helm, the English duo seems to have the Cacharel spirit down pat.Leonard: Flower power is always in style at Leonard, the house best known for its bold floral prints. This season, it also took a hippie twist, with psychedelic paisley and flower patterns on a plethora of flowing dresses and silky tops. With designer Véronique Leroy at the helm for a couple of seasons now, the house has been gaining speed. Her long jersey gowns were paired with little padded jackets or fluid wool capes, while a kimono jacket came with a fur collar. Tiger prints made their way into the fray on dresses and skirts, adding a bit of wildlife to Leroy’s florid garden.Isabelle Marant: Seldom one to disappoint her cool, young clientele, Isabelle Marant added a bit of Paris street chic to her habitual ethnic details, making for a solid collection. The designer has always tried to do well-priced clothes with a high fashion quotient. To that end, she struck it rich with a Navajo-style print on silky skirts and dresses, fur-trimmed vests, low-slung jeans and droopy-shoulder knits. Her urban-bohemian aesthetic also brought shirts and dresses with hippie embroidery and the exotic gold embroidered dress that closed the show.

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