La vie sauvage was a strong motif on the Paris runways as designers let loose with leather, feathers and fur — not to mention tribal themes and racy animal prints.

Rick Owens: In an artful and edgy fall collection, Rick Owens made a strong case for the urban warrior. Every look was built on intimidating black leather boots, some that bunched, others that laced up over the knee and unzipped into chap-like flares, and saggy, slim knit shorts à la men’s boxer briefs. It made a strong platform for the collection’s real message: aggressive outerwear. Here, Owens went whole hog for the hard stuff, as in coats and vests toughened up with stiff funnel necks, off-center zippers and lots of details in the back — origami- and cape-like effects, and sculptural structures that protruded from the shoulders like pipes — tempered with long, lean arms. It was an exercise in avant armor, one that Owens really zeroed in on with paneled leather jackets trimmed with exaggerated peplums and topped off with snug little helmets. Of course, Owens isn’t without his soft side, as shown in the finale of graceful furs — sheared minks that tied at the chest and fell into languid folds.

Isabel Marant: Once again, Isabel Marant flaunted her near-foolproof, mix-and-match formula for easy street looks. Her stable of basics — boyish knits, boxy blazers and simple tunic dresses — this season, spiced up with an Eighties shoulder or micromini, was in full, effortless effect. As was her palette of dusty and shadowy tones. Indeed, it called for a shot of color, which Marant delivered two ways: first, by satisfying her signature ethnic quotient with vaguely Native American-style prints and embroideries and a little fringe trim, to boot. And secondly, via lumberjack-style flannel shirts and dresses in red and bright blue plaids. Some terrific fur-lined vests and jackets kept the look rustic yet undeniably chic, and even sexy, thanks to the slouchy long-john leggings and suede boots.

Sharon Wauchob: Sharon Wauchob moved into dark terrain for fall, maintaining her edgy vision while tempering it with a growing feminine sensibility. Even the collection’s tailored pieces, which focused mainly on sculptural, deconstructed jacket and silk skirt combos, came softened with sprays of glossy goat’s hair, feathers and romantic ruffles bunched at the neckline or edging a skirt. But it was in Wauchob’s range of pleated silk chiffon dresses beautifully doused in gray, dark violet, rose and inky-blue mottled prints that the womanly note was really heard, with the designer delicately manipulating fabric by gathering and knotting it at the bib, adding flourishes of fur or adjusting the volume of the frocks with drawstrings.



Balmain: Since he took over at Balmain a couple of seasons ago, Christophe Decarnin has brought zip to the dusty house with supersexy, supershort dresses. While he continued to endorse that look, this season the designer took Balmain deep into the jungle with an animal theme that played out with tiger-pattern decoration on dresses — from mini to maxi — or leopard-print, hip-hugging trousers. Ornamentation was the focus, as most of the slinky silhouettes were familiar territory. A sequined snake slithered across a pair of skintight pants, while masses of silver sequins glistened on the shoulders of a zebra jacket. Paired with high-heeled fringed Pocahontas moccasins, many of the looks had a trashy Eighties rock edge. These may appeal to die-hard party girls, but a subtler hand would have deepened the resonance of Decarnin’s Tarzan scream.

Revillon: In his debut collection for the French furrier, Peter Dundas, formerly with Emanuel Ungaro, offered a fetching mix of Scandinavian and Eskimo references. A badger-and-rabbit coat was decorated with Nordic embroidery, while a fox coat came embossed with Inuit patterns. Other covetable items: a voluminous lynx coat and a sheepskin number with intarsia flowers. Dundas complemented the modern furs with slouchy silk dresses in soft prints.



Photos By: Giovanni Giannoni, Dominique Maitre and Franck Mura

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