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Bohemian and Artsy – Sonia Rykiel, Hussein Chalayan, Ann Demeulemeester, Y-3

<STRONG>Sonia Rykiel:</STRONG> Ah, Saint Germain. Who channels your bohemian chic spirit better than Sonia Rykiel? And the Left Bank designer hit the right tone again in a feisty collection of flirty dresses, cheeky knits and fluffy furs. Rykiel has...

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Sonia Rykiel: Ah, Saint Germain. Who channels your bohemian chic spirit better than Sonia Rykiel? And the Left Bank designer hit the right tone again in a feisty collection of flirty dresses, cheeky knits and fluffy furs. Rykiel has been on a roll. Over the past few seasons, she has given the house’s time-tested classics an element of contemporary cool. For fall, that meant high-waisted knit skirts paired with little black sweaters trimmed with rhinestones, a slinky sequined dress and ruffles on everything. Bows, at the neck or the bust of a dress, also abounded, as did flowers, which were knitted onto coats, tops and skirts. Silhouettes were sexy but slouchy, with plaid pants hanging low on the hips worn with matching jackets. For evening, long, sexy gowns in blue and violet velvet were decorated with rhinestones, giving yet another jolt to Rykiel’s fun frolic.

Hussein Chalayan: Though it was presented in the near-dark on a concave mirrored runway that all but promised a stumble, a crash and a call to 911, clothes-wise Hussein Chalayan’s fall show started with much promise. His look was intense — but thrillingly wearable. Coats sculpted out of tweed buzzed with artsy sophistication. Strictly tailored dresses cut away to reveal a film of Chantilly lace underneath were seriously sexy. Jackets spliced and layered with dizzying precision demonstrated Chalayan’s hard-core, undeniable talent.

What came next, however, was an exercise in willful weirdness. After dutifully giving reality its due, Chalayan flipped the switch and went into heady experimental mode with jackets that looked like giant topiaries carved from shag carpeting — or, as one editor put it, “clothes you can vacuum.” Why these oddities, which weren’t in keeping with the mood or spirit of the rest, had to come down the runway is anyone’s guess. But whatever the reason, Chalayan should have saved them for his 10-year anniversary retrospective at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands instead.

Ann Demeulemeester: Fashion editors are divas? Not at Ann Demeulemeester’s show at the unheated Carreau du Temple. All gamely waited for the start of the show, battling the sub-zero cold and snow seeping through ceiling cracks by sipping hot mulled wine and wrapping themselves in the rough woolen blankets left on their chairs.

This story first appeared in the March 7, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

However, when the show began, it seemed to make more sense. Perhaps the audience was meant to feel as forlorn as the models looked in their Mad Max-visits-a-Victorian-attic ensembles. The steady stream of ivory and black was a layered mass of wrinkled wool and distressed leather jackets worn with skinny pants hacked off midcalf. Shoulder harnesses fashioned out of cloth braiding and jet beads didn’t improve the situation, especially when they were strung with a fringe of ratty fur tails. Nonetheless, Demeulemeester has her steadfast fans who will no doubt work the collection’s wearable pieces, such as a distressed black leather and knit bomber or a twisted chiffon dress, into their wardrobes.

Y-3: “We’re going to rock New York,” enthused Michael Michalsky, creative director of Adidas, about the German sports company’s decision to move the presentation of its ongoing Y-3 collaboration with Yohji Yamamoto to the Big Apple, starting this fall. One was ready to believe him after the line’s high-energy runway presentation at the Opera Comique. Soviet Russia was the theme, with a choir of men in military dress singing “Babushka” while models paraded Yamamoto’s sleek, urban sportswear. Adidas’ signature stripes decorated everything from sweaters to leather blousons, and silhouettes were closer to the body than in recent seasons. The latter, Michalsky said, reflected a desire to develop more tailored looks for the line. To wit: jersey dresses were fitted, leather trenches were tough, and tight jeans rode low on the hips. But all eyes were on the models’ feet: the futuristic silver sneakers and clunky black boots are sure to excite the fashion flock.

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