PARIS CHANGING COURSES
CHANGE CAN BE GOOD, AND IT PROVED TO BE AT JUNYA WATANABE, WHERE TWEED AND PLASTIC MIXED IN AN OFFBEAT AND APPEALING COLLECTION, AND AT RICHARD EDWARDS, WHERE THE DEBUT WOMEN’S COLLECTION HAD A CLEAN-CUT APPEAL. THE VIVID LOOKS AT CACHAREL ALSO HAD A LOT OF FRESHNESS, AND NATHALIE GERVAIS’S LAST COLLECTION FOR NINA RICCI HAD A HIP SENSIBILITY.

Junya Watanabe: Last season Deauville, this season, Chanel tweeds — clearly Junya Watanabe has taken his French lessons to heart. Of course, his take on tweed played like a wacky schoolgirl let loose in her mom’s closet with a pair of scissors and plastic term paper covers. Cut, slice, add plastic shoes and neon over-the-knee socks and voila! A girl has a look of her own. The result was no mean achievement, as Watanabe left his audience smiling at the whimsy while awed by the invention.
Such is Watanabe’s way. A man of many moods, his collections have ranged from haute attitude to outer space, and sometimes out to lunch. In the collection he showed on Sunday, he gave in to a magical flourish of color, showing tweeds in riotous combinations — Easter egg pastels; canary yellow or orange with black and white; violet and green. He spliced these with strips and swirls of plastic, for that faux-futuristic look.
Throughout, Watanabe twisted and bunched dresses, skirts and jackets, and while he preferred minis, real or trompe l’oeil, with deep plastic borders, he also showed a few dirndly numbers. For artistic types, he did knits in mini Mondrain patterns; for girls with a circus fantasy, a great baby blue tweed jacket over short striped clown pants, and for those who think plastic might be a tad too cold in the snow belt, a cozy coat that looked as if it were made from a purple plush rug. And just when you needed a little relief form the visual frenzy, he quieted the tone with some chic black jackets over pants and skirts. Busy though it was, the collection revolved around a single theme, that contrast of tweed and plastic, and Watanabe let the tune play too long. But then, when the tune is that good, what’s wrong with listening again and again?

Cacharel: After seeing hundreds of serious black suits in New York and Milan, is the fashion world hungry for some color, whimsy and humor? You bet, which is why editors and retailers are lapping up the sweet, lighthearted output of this French house. In their second season of revamping Cacharel, Brit duo Suzanne Clements and Inacio Ribeiro continue to inject a strong dose of fashion — and fun — into this affordable line. For fall, they knocked the wind out of couture hautiness, sending models down a topsy-turvy runway set with two-dimensional, cartoonish chairs.
The trompe l’oeil effects extended to the clothes, too. Clements and Ribeiro strung two-dimensional sequined pearls on a sleeveless gray T-shirt and drew pleats and belts on plain sweaters, dresses and even a suede trench coat. The looks were young, sexy and easy to like, from blouses printed to resemble Western shirts to ruffled dresses in colorful checked chiffon. And it wasn’t all kid’s play. There were some solid clothes for grown-ups, too, including sharply tailored corduroy pantsuits and cocktail dresses and skirts in tiered bands of chiffon.

Richard Edwards: Face it. Fine men’s tailoring may be an art form, but designing clothes for women is just more fun. Who among those charged with creating successful men’s wear doesn’t secretly hanker for a little ruching, some playful pleating or even a smattering of smocking every now and again? Though they didn’t refrain from showing off a whole lot of clever tailoring, Richard Bengtsson and Edward Pavlick, of the men’s label Richard Edwards, worked those rudiments of femininity into their polished debut collection with relish.
Besides wispy knit turtlenecks and stiff satin skirts that were cool and clean as could be, the two eased themselves into the women’s game, gracing an organza blouse with knife-sharp band of pleats and setting others at a diagonal across the front of a simple dress like a sash. They used smocking to create curves at the waist of a plunge-necked leather dresses while tops and revved-up skirts had subtle ruching at the hip. None of it was as sporty as the capsule collection the designers showed alongside their men’s wear last season, but it had the tidy, modern look that has reeled in their fans in the men’s department.