The Paris runways were full of frolic for fall with sweetly simple looks, masculine-feminine mixes and punked-out deconstruction.
Chloé: For top-tier brands, design-by-committee was classified as a bad idea a long time ago. But Yvon Misplaere, Blue Farrier and Adrian Appiolazza, the triumvirate behind fall’s Chloé collection, were the exception to the rule. Forgoing any radical shift, the trio managed to maintain the oh-so-salable sweetness that Phoebe Philo brought to the house, reprising the trapeze silhouette she presented for spring, while gently coaxing out simplicity in tune with the current season’s austerity.
Like a pack of later-day Perry Ellises, the designers sent out loose-cut smocks, no-frills minis, silky blousons and boxy coats, all washed soft in linens and nubby tweeds. An oversized coat was shown over a simple shirt and paperbag-waist pants, while a thick cardigan topped a voluminous layered skirt. The collection fell short, however, when some of those voluminous proportions spilled over into the sloppy.
Of course, it was during Philo’s reign that Chloé became synonymous with discreetly sexy party dresses, and here the trio was in harmony again with several fine night-on-the-town options, including one minidress covered in a blizzard of glitter-flecked ruffles and another in graphic peel-away rosettes. Transitions are never seamless, but this one was pretty close.
Comme des Garçons: Many designers have explored the masculine-feminine divide. But taking the notion to its topsy-turvy extreme — as she’s known to do — Rei Kawakubo turned the tailoring-meets-froth formula into a thrilling adventure in her fall Comme des Garçons collection. Her method boasted a childlike charm and wonder, as she merged sexual identities like a kid piling on costumes pulled from the attic trunk. Kawakubo’s delicately tangled personas stepped out in Zorro masks with roses blooming behind their ears, their formal suits and girly frocks magically intermingled.
A banker’s suit jacket and a prim princess dress became one, with the latter split down the middle and tacked onto the lapels of the former. A puff-sleeved dress hung like curtains framing the front of an argyle sweater, while other carefully dissected dresses meandered their way in and around Kawakubo’s mannish coats. Gleefully off balance, Kawakubo’s coup de grace came at the midway point: half-he, half-she characters as indecisive as tadpoles and wearing men’s suits discreetly webbed between their pant legs with cascades of cha-cha ruffles.
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