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As the Paris collections wound down, designers’ offerings ranged from tailored trenchcoats and safari jackets to jeweled tunics and slinky evening numbers meant for the red carpet.
Guy Laroche: Thanks to Hilary Swank and the auspicious timing of the Academy Awards, designer Herve L. Leroux showed his second collection for Guy Laroche with the house’s name fresh on the lips of fashion watchers. Nevertheless, red-carpet candidates were only half the story on Leroux’s glossy white runway. In fact, the designer seemed to delight in classic tailored fare, such as belted trenchcoats with swingy hems, jackets with a touch of safari or military and slim suits. Leroux, however, should note that the classic turns boring in large doses.
He built up to his red-carpet candidates with variations on the little black dress, from girlish and pleated to corseted and va-va voom. As for those Hollywood-worthies, other than a regrettable group of dresses covered with sparkly embroidery, most were a not-so-exciting exercise in simplicity.
Kenzo: In the three seasons that he has been designing Kenzo, Antonio Marras has led the house on an around-the-world trip. For his terrific fall show, he wandered into an English garden, then threw in references to exotic places ranging from India to Peru for good measure. Marras likes a madcap mélange, and his talent lies in making a remarkably overcharged aesthetic blend into a comprehensive whole. His fall collection was replete with patterns and textures, such as Indian-inspired embroidery on a coat and flowers appliquéd on a jacket, riffing on the house’s colorful heritage in a new way. Silhouettes were easy and full, with baggy trousers, pleated and ruffled skirts and breezy chiffon dresses. There was eccentricity in the pairing of a flower-print dress with a floppy hat or a dress that mixed tartan with floral. In a nod to Stanley Kubrick’s film “Barry Lyndon,” which is set in 18th-century England, one of the movie’s stars, Marisa Berenson, came out for the finale in an embroidered coat and ornate necklace. And just when the audience thought it couldn’t get any better, the curtain parted to reveal a tableau with models lounging in a dreamy English salon. Bravo!
Jean Louis Scherrer: Dusting off a sleepy name isn’t easy. Just ask Stephane Rolland, who, over the past few seasons, has been attempting to create a ready-to-wear image for Scherrer based on his couture. Though many of Rolland’s clothes for fall were fine, such as a long tweed coat trimmed with fur or a plaid skirt with military details paired with a red velvet jacket, the collection fell short of making a recognizable Scherrer statement. Nevertheless, Rolland excels at evening gowns, and his slinky sequin dresses, dramatic pink leopard-print confection and columnar black velvet gown dripped glamour.
Cher Michel Klein: Michel Klein is quietly building a following with the elegant, wearable clothes of his Cher line. His fine fall effort had a typically Parisian flair, with color combinations that suggested Eighties Yves Saint Laurent and wonderful embroideries. A black leather peacoat came with white piping, while a vivid green velvet dress featured embroidered gold flowers. Details and craftsmanship were also the focus in such looks as a purple skirt embroidered with sequins, a floral-print velvet dress, and a blue velvet kimono coat trimmed in silk. But the staging of the presentation was distracting, with models wandering around a runway made to look like a typically Parisian street.
Martin Grant: While some go for extreme glamour, Martin Grant has always favored the subtler side of chic. Feminine cocktail dresses with a slightly vintage flair and great coats, of course, are his calling cards. This season he said he continued “the pretty thing” but “mixed it with harsher tailoring.” That meant such looks as a camel felt wool peacoat worn with a fetching pale blue bubble dress. A black bouclé jacket featured trompe l’oeil, gold glitter details, while a black sundress came in ruffled tulle and velvet skirts with peplum jackets completed the roundup of clever classics.