LACROIX’S GRAND GESTURE
Christian Lacroix is the lone wolf of the haute couture. He howls in the faces of all those wishy-washy designers who send out high fashion that looks more like ready-to-wear. His work is exuberant, inventive, elaborate, even over-the-top — everything that people associate with traditional haute couture.
All the embroidery, jewelry and Chantilly lace that are disappearing from other runways will always have their home chez Lacroix. This season, the designer said he looked to a certain idea of the Sixties, singling out the style of such disparate figures as Evangeline Bruce and Veruschka as inspirations. And you could see it in his A-line shapes, three-quarter sleeves and high-waisted dresses. Jackets were either long and sporty or short and boxy and came with bell-shaped skirts or were worn over sweet little dresses. Light shades of lavender, pink and purple were mixed and matched — with a few acid colors thrown in for good measure — but the aggressiveness of recent years has been softened.
In fact, the entire collection was just a little less operatic than usual. “In order for couture to last, it can’t make clients afraid,” Lacroix said before the show. “It can’t only be theater.” And, as if to prove that he could tone it down, the designer let the air out of the form that made him famous: One recurring skirt shape this season had just a hint of a pouf.
But for that ultimate, drop-dead, once-in-a-lifetime evening dress, when you need to stand out in a room — and money is no object — Lacroix is still your man. He did show the kind of elaborate bustier ballgowns that would have been right at home on “Gunsmoke.” But he also came up with one taffeta opera cape over a stunningly simple black-and-white printed column.
By the time the second show was over, the teary-eyed audience had risen to its feet, pelted Lacroix with carnations and chanted his name until he came back down the runway a second time. They may have been carried away by the fashion emotion, but it sure was nice to end the season on an up note.