Sometimes one must go to extremes. That was the state of mind Alber Elbaz found himself in as he undertook work on his fall collection. “We used to work with intuition,” he said during a preview. “We were a dream factory. I want to go back to that dream factory that fashion was all about.”

Consider us transported. On Thursday night, Elbaz staged a breathtaking fall show filled with unbridled capital “F” Fashion.

“Extreme and extravagant” were the designer’s starting points. They led him in myriad directions. Still, he quickly amended his own criteria: Joys of the fashion reverie aside, the clothes had to work. He thus set about challenging himself to match each flamboyant notion with a practical application.

 

First rule of practicality: freedom of movement. It flowed throughout, sometimes via extreme volume (abundantly proportioned dresses and coats in thick, “tribal” tweeds) and others, extreme simplicity (a series of whisper-thin, washed-silk gowns in navy, black, cosmetic pink, worn under grand, feathered picture hats). Elbaz drove the point home endlessly, punctuated by an infatuation with fringe. Here, too, the incarnations were diverse: the edging on the tweeds; jingling bugle beads outlining an easy chemise with smouldering noir aura; a coat made from tiers of dense yarn. The ideas came at warp speed: bubble-skirted slipdress; lone sleek trench; pleated fake leather dancing dresses. Some looks paid obvious homage to Yohji, though not all. For every such gesture, there was a fur-embellished power lady or modernist structured flapper.

Given Elbaz’s extreme inclinations, one might have expected an extravaganza of gowns for evening. Instead, a surprise, in the form of short, crisp dresses lavished with deep-toned, color-blocked fringe, most of which swung freely for miles. Yet consistent with his solution-based approach, Elbaz kept it tangle-free by gluing broad sections to the base fabric. A masterful fringe festival.

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