PARIS — Frills and furbelows, sparkles and spangles — and miles and miles of skin — underscored couturiers’ efforts here this week, from Elie Saab’s sexed-up seductresses to the extroverted vamps Stephane Roland delivered at the house of Scherrer.
This story first appeared in the January 24, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Other designers, though, such as Hanae Mori, who continued to create with her refined customer in mind, and Franck Sorbier, with his fairy-tale-like dresses fit for Snow White, delivered quieter and more romantic shows.
Scherrer’s Roland has aimed to grow his client base for several seasons now — he even added a men’s made-to-order collection, which he showed in tandem with the women’s couture for the second season running.
Apparently, his efforts are paying off. House president Charles-Edouard Barthes boasted that the couture turned profitable — a rarity in this money-losing business — for the first time last year. He cited growing client lists in Russia, the Middle East and the United States. So what’s Roland doing right?
Judging from his revealing dresses with deep slits and necklines that plunged to the navel, it may be the designer’s refusal to rein in his exuberance. His over-the-top effort featured slinky chiffon numbers with glitzy embroidery and sporty smoking trousers smocked at the cuff. Much of the show worked a cabaret theme à la Josephine Baker. His bride even came arrayed in sparkling lingerie, barely concealed under a white cape.
Speaking of cabarets, Dominique Sirop showed at the Lido. The party atmosphere was fitting, since this was a special season for Sirop, his first as the Chambre Syndicale’s newest full-fledged member. The designer, who trained with Hubert de Givenchy, again highlighted his talent for sculptural silhouettes with a collection of overtly sexy, body-hugging gowns.
Beirut-based Elie Saab, whose fame grew after Halle Berry wore one of his dresses to the Oscars last year, doesn’t pull his punches, either. His ornate chiffon dresses seemed made expressly for the red carpet. With their embroidered sequins and high slits, they were just the eye candy to catch a photographer’s hungry gaze.
But saucing it up doesn’t suit everyone. Hanae Mori, for instance, turned in another example of her understated style. Her day suits were well proportioned and staid, while her crepe dresses came in bursts of turquoise or aqua. But Mori’s strong suit remains her Japanese silk fabrics. For spring, she served up a traditional wave motif on a series of fetching chiffon evening dresses. The collection also proved that Mori is still going strong. She is even preparing to rev up her quiet ready-to-wear business with the help of her new Japanese partner, Misui Busan.
Franck Sorbier, showing at the gilded Opera Comique, featured live music and a stage strewn with white confetti. It was a perfect setting for his intricate collection of white evening gowns fit for a Fairy Queen.
Meanwhile, not everyone who shows during the couture practices the haute art, per se. E2, the husband-and-wife team of Olivier and Michelle Chatenet, for example, rework vintage couture pieces and give them a hip, modern twist. This season, they moved toward the new elegance, sweeping fashion by decorating a bevy of chic Chanel-influenced pieces with eyelets and chiffon flower appliqués.
For her part, Anne-Valerie Hash’s silhouette — oversized on top and slim on the bottom — revealed a more feminine feeling than in recent seasons. Yet Hash stuck to her favorite deconstructed look, reinterpreting men’s clothing for a woman’s body.