PARIS FROM A TO Z
FROM DELICATE LACE AT CHLOæ TO EXPOSED SEAMS AT XULY BET, THE COLLECTIONS WERE ALL OVER THE PLACE.

Chloe: Welcome to Karl's bizarre bazaar. The collection he presented for Chloæ Tuesday morning was stocked full of the kind of elegant clothes the new Chloæ customer wants--and many she doesn't. It could only be Lagerfeld who covered the fashion waterfront from the most exquisite lace suits to the weirdest evening dresses dripping with sequins, beads and all kinds of paraphernalia. It seemed that Karl just couldn't make up his mind. Does he want his ladies to wear elegant slip-tunics over layers of ombréd chiffon? Or would he prefer them in flashy satin suits? It's all about pick and choose, which is why Lagerfeld always produces a large collection for Chloæ.
One of Karl's biggest achievements is the way he took an old trend--the lingerie-as-clothing phenomenon--and gave it a fresh look. He started with little lace-trimmed knits, almost like Granny's underwear, putting tank tops over long skirts or stretching them into dresses. And his satin and jersey tunic tops, some of which were handpainted, were chic and hip, with a touch of the retro feeling that's all the rage.
Karl is equally adept with soft satin blouses that are seamed to hug the midriff; snappy peplum sweaters over half-slips of lace-edged satin, and long, sexy jersey dresses that play up the bosom. In a series of delicate florals that look straight out of the boudoir, Lagerfeld does long, flowing dresses that open to the waist to reveal matching panties--an idea that will show up next week in his Chanel collection. That's the thing about Karl: If you don't find what you want in one collection, just wait another day.

Rifat Ozbek: Call it Cyber Chic. The collection Rifat Ozbek showed Tuesday afternoon was like an electronic jolt that had people both raving and raging. These are disco-queen clothes for Studio 94--not Studio 54. Skirts and trousers ride low, real low. Tops and bottoms are sheer, proudly displaying those high-tech gym bodies. Midriffs are almost never covered and neither are legs--the modern club kid doesn't like to dance in long skirts. And shoulder pads, inexplicably, were worn on the outside, even with halter tops. It all felt so hip and of-the-moment. Maybe it is. Certainly Rifat thought it was. "It's beautiful, modern, new and futuristic," he said after the show.
Will anyone wear it? Sure, says Rifat. "You can wear anything in clubs now." But if your evening ends at 11 instead of dawn, Ozbek also offered some sustenance. Inspired by his new love of fencing, Ozbek presented some of Paris's best jackets - which almost seemed carved rather than tailored - and peplum tops that emphasized the body. And for those who want to take a little dip instead of a big splash, Rifat offers the perfect look: a midriff T-shirt of sequins veiled in mesh.Mariot Chanet: Take away the hideous hats and knee-padded stockings, and the Mariot Chanet collection was one of the best in Paris. These are chic and wearable clothes, but have nothing to do with the retro rage now overtaking Paris's smaller houses. Olivier Chatenet and Michele Meunier, the husband-and-wife team behind this fast-emerging company, have a fresh urban sensibility, with lots of clean tailored jackets, knee-length dresses and skirts and crisp white shirts. For the more adventurous, there were satin motorcycle jackets over asymmetrical skirts, scanty panties and wide-legged satin pants. There was even a fun workable gimmick: sashed knee-length dresses that could be unsashed to fall to the floor. Day-to-night in one easy piece.

Yohji Yamamoto: The Japanese influence is all over Paris, but nobody does the Japanese better than the Japanese themselves. In a dignified, elegant presentation at the Sorbonne, Yohji Yamamoto showed why he's been around for so long. The collection had Eastern influences along with trendier Western ones, including Vionnet's bias cuts and punk. There was even a nod to disco. Yamamoto sent out long black evening dresses wrapped at the waist with string; long, flowing shirtdresses closed with one large safety pin, and billowing black kimono dresses with floral scarves. One standout was a sheer white Empire evening gown under a flowing black cape. Of course, the workmanship was incredible, especially in the origami-like evening section, which was perfect for the fashion intellectuals, who gave it a rousing round of applause.

Nina Ricci: Myriam Schaefer sure knows how to milk an idea for all it's worth--even if it isn't a very good one. In her first collection for Nina Ricci, Schaefer showed an unrelenting fascination with bows and pleated chiffon insets, which she plopped at the back of almost every jacket and trenchcoat in the collection--just the kind of excess baggage a woman doesn't need. Schaefer, who was Jean Paul Gaultier's assistant for seven years, did learn a thing or two from her former boss--especially how to make terrific riding jackets and cropped tuxedo pants. But the collection just didn't have the hip attitude everyone anticipated.

Xuly Bet: With a mad crush at the doors of the Palace, Xuly Bet was an ordeal for everyone but the 1,000 groupies who came to see his usual brand of clubwear. The designer's body-conscious "Funkin Fashion" and a new line for Puma, were just what his fans expect: tight stretch dresses in electric color combinations with exposed seams and threads trailing behind. The professionals in the audience were less excited: Exposed seams are like exposed brick, tired and overused.

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