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Feminine Principles – Balmain, Isabel Marant

Designers homed in on the pretty and stylish with looks influenced by Fifties couture or the style of chic Parisiennes.

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Designers homed in on the pretty and stylish with looks influenced by Fifties couture or the style of chic Parisiennes.

Balmain: Getting a hobbled house up and running is no easy feat, especially after it has suffered from a spinning door of designers and a flirtation with bankruptcy — both of which have wreaked havoc chez Balmain in the last couple of years. Nonetheless, that is the task facing designer Christophe Decarnin, formerly with Paco Rabanne, who made his debut on Sunday. His bet is that he can shake the brand out of hibernation with a glamorous, couture-influenced look that draws on the house’s haute heritage. His dresses came ruffled, short and formfitting, in lace, or embellished with gold embroidery or passementerie. His other look was worn (complete with holes) T-shirts, again embroidered, paired with flared, hip-hugging trousers. The collection had a hint of modernity and showed that Decarnin has some talent, but it lacked the depth and shock therapy to give this old house enough energy for a second go.

Isabel Marant: Everyone needs a break now and again, and Isabel Marant is no exception. The designer passed up the runway last season, and in the fall collection she showed on Monday, she tempered her usual bohemian flair with more feminine touches. Fitted wool vests with cupped sleeves worn with slim-fitting pants tucked into natural wool socks channeled just the right note of just-back-from-vacation Zen. Cocooning, dropped-shouldered wool tweed coats paired with girly puffed-sleeve cotton blouses will no doubt be a hit with Marant’s fleet of chic Parisienne fans.

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