THE ONES TO WATCH

PARIS — Watching a young designer come into his own is a pleasant experience. And that’s exactly what Brussels-based Jose Enrique Ona Selfa did with a sophisticated collection on Sunday. After weaving his magic with knitwear for Olivier Theyskens, Ona Selfa launched his own eponymous line last year. Understandably, it took him a couple of outings to get his bearings. For example, the collection he showed last October for spring, was fine, but it didn’t have any of the subtle magic he captured for fall.
Besides his fantastic knits, Ona Selfa showed he knows how to cut a mean skirt and coat. Whether in leather, suede or wool, skirts had seams that were twisted into a kick-out hem, while coats had a structured silhouette and high collars.
Pascal Humbert, who is best known for his tres Parisian couture, is also emerging as a ready-to-wear designer to watch. In this, his second rtw collection, presented at the Hotel Crillon on Monday, Humbert reprised some of the ideas he’s already featured for couture: trompe l’oeil finishing and a cutout puzzle theme. But his fall collection breaks new ground, too. There are knits with subtle stitching, jersey and leather dresses and a leather camisole that flips out into a tutu in the back. Le smoking is also a Humbert staple, and this time, he did it embroidered with pearl-like beads on the lapel and the sides of trousers.
For his part, Lucien Pellat-Finet keeps producing some of the most coveted and luxurious multi-ply cashmere sweaters around, adding another graphic design to his ever-expanding repertoire each season. So for fall, in homage to Yves Saint Laurent, he has Mondrian-inspired sweaters in bright red, blue and yellow. Red is a key color this season chez Lucien, and there are sweaters embroidered with studs into a medieval cross. Don’t forget that Pellat-Finet is also expanding his collection of leather skirts and coats, which are simple, understated chic.
Give Sydney-based designer Collette Dinnigan some lace, chiffon, satin and sequins, and she’ll know exactly what to do: Whip up more of her sexy cocktail dresses. She does this with the hand of a seasoned veteran. And this season, she produced enough pretty numbers to give a girl dresses aplenty to work the social circuit. They came with thin straps, were richly embroidered and tinged with a nostalgic Jazz Age feeling.
Cinema anyone? Christophe Lemaire foreswore the runway for a film presentation of his collection. It projected a dreamy atmosphere, which was also underscored by the quietly elegant clothes featured on screen. In the past, Lemaire has been known for his streetwear. But he has distilled the best of that style — graphic prints, for example — into a more feminine mood, which marks a step forward.
Pop Art is in the air here, and Tom Ford hosted the opening for the Gucci-sponsored “Pop Years” exhibit at the Centre Pompidou museum last night. And if there is anybody that can lay claim to Pop inspiration, it should be Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. He’s been doing graphic Andy Warhol-like prints for ages. And he recycled these ideas in his show on Tuesday morning, picking up a little vampire Goth along the way. There were dresses printed with images of a Man Ray photo, Serge Gainsbourg and famed horror actor Bella Lugosi as Dracula. Other signature Castelbajac touches included blanket dresses with fringe on the sleeves or hem. But this show, despite all of its high-energy elements, never quite took off.
Recently, Gaspard Yurkievich has gained something of a cult status for his streetwise Eighties-inspired designs. He did a mean slouched shoulder and captured the zeitgeist rippling through fashion last year. But with his fall collection, he failed to move forward and the silhouettes that he featured seemed tired. That didn’t keep him from showing a few pretty pieces, like chiffon tuxedo pants and sequined minidresses, however.
Young Brazilian designer Icarius de Menezes held his first rtw show in Paris just last season. It’s clear that Icarius can cut a sharp dress. But his beauty institute-themed show on Monday just didn’t work. Still, there were some passable pieces, and the dramatic flowing dresses tapped into his penchant for ultra-sexy designs.
Designers Desiree Heiss and Ines Kaag of Bless, however, know how to bring reality to fashion — with a twist, that is. The young duo have been designing since 1995, starting with a single item — a shirt made out of rubber. Last season, people were talking about their funky shoe and jewelry line, and now they’ve come out with Bless Basics — filled with clothes one could hang out in. To prove their point, the designers gave a voyeuristic presentation with real people kicking back at a friend’s apartment — some playing ping-pong, others enjoying beer and pizza in the living room, one surfing the ‘Net in the bedroom and all dressed in Bless, of course. Some standouts in the collection of cool urbanwear: pale washed denim jeans worn with openwork sweaters knitted from scraps of fabric, including cotton, lace, silk, men’s suitings, as well as fitted linen and cotton bodysuits.