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Neutral and Sunny Outlooks

Citrus brights stood side by side with elegant, monochrome looks on the Paris runways.<BR><BR><STRONG>Chado Ralph Rucci:</STRONG> Ralph Rucci got some very bad advice. How else to explain his decision to close a season of four cities and 500-plus...

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Citrus brights stood side by side with elegant, monochrome looks on the Paris runways.

Chado Ralph Rucci: Ralph Rucci got some very bad advice. How else to explain his decision to close a season of four cities and 500-plus shows at 8:30 on Sunday night? And in showing both his spring ready-to-wear and fall couture collections together, he sent out a whopping 75 looks for his weary audience to digest.

No one can argue with the quality. Rucci’s fabrics, sourced from the top of the ultraluxe tier, make expensive-looking canvases for his crafty, considered details. The Asian obi effects and Da Vinci-inspired illustrations on filmy silk dresses represented Rucci’s art and architecture stance — this time pushed toward the future with some zipper and plastic swirl details. There were beautiful things, an ivory wool dress with braided stitching from his spring rtw and a long gray wool jersey couture dress and matching coat that showed Rucci’s understated Zen side. And if the fussier fare, like plumed gowns, arty abstract prints and roped leather jackets that appeared in both collections, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, they will tickle his mature, moneyed clientele.

Sonia Rykiel: It’s hard not to get caught up in the high-energy, giddy spirit of a Sonia Rykiel show. The soundtrack’s upbeat and her models come flying down the catwalk intoxicatingly cheerful — this time, they high-fived one another or skipped and twirled their way like freewheeling nymphs. And, of course, there are the clothes. Rykiel is all about the pretty and playful, and for spring, she served up a number of cheeky trompe l’oeil knits as well as light-as-air goddess gowns paired with feathery shrugs and boas. Swimwear came accented with rubbery floral appliqués, and her dresses with tight rows of fluttery petals trailing across the body or around the neckline. Accessories, too, were charming, as in a whimsical bunny hat or bejeweled butterfly hair clips. Even the sweaters wrapped around the head like turbans were amusing. But perhaps there’s more cause for celebration than just the fashion — next year will mark the firm’s 40th birthday.

Elie Saab: Anyone who’s had the pleasure of seeing an Elie Saab show knows how much the man adores red-carpet-worthy dresses. So much so that a Saab collection without a glamour dress (or how about 50 of them?) is like a hot-fudge sundae without a cherry on top. For spring — quelle surprise — his dresses came sequined, ruffled or finished with a bow. To be fair, there were pretty numbers: a long bustier dress in yellow taffeta; a shimmering short dress in black sequins; a yellow satin gown embroidered with silver sequins, and the black and green floral-print taffeta dress that started the show. But for all the fine fluff, the collection produced a feeling of going back — and back again — for second helpings.

Rue du Mail: It looks like Martine Sitbon is still getting into the groove of her new collection, Rue du Mail, now in its second season. The shiny chiffon dresses replete with Japanese geometry, either by way of graphic prints or origami-esque construction, captured her arty, ethereal spirit. And while there were good ideas in the complicated cuts, the execution and some of the fabrics, that last set of plastic-y, printed transparencies were off.

Kenzo: Now a few years into his tenure at Kenzo, Antonio Marras has succeeded in creating a quirky, oddball universe that draws on the house’s colorful, multiethnic heritage. For spring, he took a voyage deep into the jungle with a surrealistic stage set of suspended plants, dangling plastic tubes and exotic birds projected on TV screens. The clothes were a testament to the designer’s proclivity for volume and mélange: a yellow pleated dress with a sequined floral pattern, big coats and pleated skirts, kimono-style dresses and geometric-print trousers paired with an A-line floral top. But not all animals live in the jungle. Marras’ geometric-patterned color-blocked dress, columnar Hawaiian print dress and those of colorful feathers would be equally at home in a discothèque. Though charming, Marras’ wild menagerie could use a bit of taming before crossing over into the real world.

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