THE COMEBACK TRAIL

PARIS — Revamping a dusty, half-forgotten fashion house is no easy task. Judging by three collections shown here on Wednesday — Guy Laroche, Scherrer and Jacques Fath — it requires more than good intentions and a new, young designer. Perseverance, tenacity and time are also key ingredients.
At Guy Laroche, 33-year-old designer Laetitia Hecht has said that she wants to create a buzz around the house, which has struggled to gain recognition since the departure of Alber Elbaz. But much remains to be achieved. In the program notes, she cited influences ranging from Victorian looks to film director Tim Burton, which resulted in a range of looks from ornate gowns a la Boldini to dandyish pantsuits. There were also corsets and a touch of Goth via a black hooded coat. The collection’s multiplicity, however, didn’t lay the foundation to build a clear image on.
At Jacques Fath, British-born designer Lizzy Disney was also slow out of the blocks. It has been five years since the house, now part of a fledgling luxury conglomerate, France Luxury Group, headed by ex-Chloe executive Mounir Moufarrige, last produced a ready-to-wear collection. The machinery remains rusty.
You have got to hand it to Disney, 30, though, for trying to keep things sensible. Her debut effort featured no-nonsense sportswear, including low-slung trousers and simple knits, and she stuck to a palette of mostly green, sky blue and beige. Her skirts came with cummerbund-like details, while wraparound dresses had a Twenties flair. But Disney’s collection lacked the energy and vibrancy of her now-discontinued signature collection. It will take a stronger jolt of modern attitude to wake up this brand.
Meanwhile, Moufarrige’s second show of the day was Scherrer. He has tapped New Delhi designer Ritu Beri, 30, to bring glitz to the brand, and she took an ultra-glam approach for fall. Embroidery snaked up the side of black pants, while a black leather trenchcoat was decorated with a patch of fur and rhinestones in back. Beri is angling to bring sex appeal to Scherrer: One model held a whip, others wore translucent, frilly tops and the silhouettes were extra tight. But sensuality should be suggested, not screamed. Beri’s clothes were sometimes gaudy, most noticeably the pieces printed with the word “She” in silver.

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