PARIS: DISCO FINALE
THE SEASON ENDED WITH LACROIX’S FLASHY HOMAGE TO SEVENTIES DISCO.

LACROIX GETS DOWN
The French love Christian Lacroix. He’s the only designer in Paris, other than Yves Saint Laurent, who almost always gets a standing ovation. It’s touching. Some American peasants, however, have a little trouble understanding him. He is Paris’s craftiest couturier indeed, and his artisanal creations have a certain charm. But it doesn’t always add up to much in the end. Couture, after all, is about clothes that women are meant to wear, to make them look beautiful. But Christian’s fantasies, though rich and radiant, sometimes seem more like costumes from an operetta.
This was the case on Thursday, when Lacroix staged a flashy homage to disco, with a leopard-print runway, spinning disco ball and a soundtrack that Steve Rubell would have loved. In his program, Christian describes his collection as a mix of elements, like “those seen during those crazy nights at the Palace,” the Paris club of the Seventies.
Instead of Provence, the Lacroix customer now finds herself in a land of gold and silver sequins, glittery Lurex and big, big hair, reminiscent of Ivana’s premakeover days. Despite some simple dazzlers (like a patchwork cocktail dress and faille trenchcoat), the collection was all too much — and all over the place. Sort of like the disco age. (For more on Lacroix, see page 11.)

NINA RICCI: GLAMOUR GIRLS
With models streaming out of three oversize arched doorways, designer Gerard Pipart gave a little theatrical glamour to his collection for Nina Ricci. There were tight-waisted suits, full knee-length skirts, enormous velvet hats — and not a pair of pants in sight. Standouts for day included a trio of satin crepe Empire-waisted dresses with back bows and a black cashmere coat that unbuttoned to reveal an identically cut black crepe dress. At night, the hemlines dropped to the floor, and the drama hit fever pitch with a finale of pleated taffeta ballgowns.

PHILIPPE VENET: CLEAN CUTS
This was couture in a time capsule — but a delicately decorated one. The collection Philippe Venet showed Thursday in Paris had all his clean hallmarks: fluid satin cocktail dresses, snappy wool suits nipped firmly at the waist and extravagant coats with wing-like sleeves. His two outstanding outfits were a superb orange angora frock coat and a gold lamÄ column dress fit for any Oscar winner.

HANAE MORI: GOING THE LENGTH
Although Hanae Mori made a bow to the Orient with crushed velvet kimono jackets and silk kimono evening dresses, her big news was The New Length. In a season that has been TNL-free, Mori showed a lineup of skirts that flirted with the knee. Standouts included a canary yellow hooded wool coat over a black cashmere sheath and New-Length gray flannel suits with silk georgette blouses. For evening, hemlines dropped to the floor in a black velvet dress with a fuchsia taffeta collar and an iridescent silk mousseline entrance-maker.

TORRENTE: FAIRYLAND
It was all fairy tales this season for Rosa Torrente. She showed everything from snow queens from a Hans Christian Andersen tale in the form of ecru coats with passementerie, fur or embroidered trim, to princesses in gowns and capes. It all came down the runway to the Disney tune “Someday My Prince Will Come.” For day, pants were tossed aside for knickers, except for one perfect number — narrow, mink-cuffed trousers worn with a deep brown paisley jacket and long mink coat.
At night, Torrente went wild with an “unreal” — as she dubbed it — pleated silk fabric with borders that flared into trumpet flounces. She used it for long capes and floor-length skirts.

PACO RABANNE: METAL WORK
Paco Rabanne’s signature style was in full swing this season. His heavy-metal display made a lot of noise — especially when he sent out suits accented with metal mosaics, followed by a parade of knit metal dresses and chainmail swimsuits. Everything he showed seemed to shimmer down the runway, and the all-too-flashy show ended with Paco’s bride, encased in a steel thread and silk dress.

LECOANET HEMANT: FUTURE SHOCK
In an collection dedicated to French courtesans, Lecoanet Hemant sent out what looked like 18th-century streetwalkers projected into a “Blade Runner” future. Models marched out in silver fright wigs, thigh-high lace-up boots and waist-length strings of baubles. One standout for day was the burgundy silk cloque jacket with flowing V-shaped tails, worn over stretch silk and wool fencing pants. For evening, there was a sparkling silver bustier minidress with a matching, floor-sweeping train. It wasn’t clear where it’s meant to be worn, but it made for fine theater.

GERALD WATELET: STEPPING UP
In his second Paris collection, 30-year-old Belgian designer Gerald Watelet took a step forward. His strength was day, which included high-waisted trousers, tweed suits with short flared skirts and a perfect little black belted coatdress. Waists were fitted, hips were emphasized and shoulders were strong but slightly rounded. Local front-row Ladies, such as Madame Giscard d’Estaing, were nodding their approval. Monsieur Watelet is one to watch.

LUISA BECCARIA: SIRENS
In a nod to Thirties and Forties Hollywood glamour, Luisa Beccaria sent out a collection to make a screen siren proud. There were Empire-waisted dresses in sheer blue silk mousseline for day and shimmering silver velvet evening gowns. With so much drama, including a few models caught up in their hemlines, you half expected Jean Harlow to appear for an encore.

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