PARIS — Rather than playing to the trends, some designers stick to their guns by carving out a niche and sticking to it — with variations, of course. It’s all the better, of course, if your own ideas happen to synchronize with what’s of-the-moment. And that’s what happened to Veronique Leroy, who’s been doing Eighties looks longer than just about anyone else. So when she went back to her roots — after several seasons of a more commercial focus — it was a natural move that she carried off with verve. Her shapes were wearable, sporty, sexy and fun. There were high-waisted pants, cinched with buckles and paired with oversized, slouch-shouldered jackets. Zippers showed up everywhere, looking great on military khaki canvas pants and big jackets, while floating, diaphanous tops were worn with leather HotPants. She also whipped up bad-girl accessories such as leather razor-blade belts and brooches, and her zigzag-print terrycloth knitwear and swimwear were mischievously playful, as were the floral-patterned terrycloth dresses.
AF Vandevorst, the Antwerp, Belgium-based husband-wife team of An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx, have a clear idea of where they’re taking their label. They have several favorite ongoing themes, including those distinctive structured bustiers and some softer lingerie leitmotifs. And their spring collection used them to strong effect. One of their notions: transforming nylon stockings into clothes. Reworked stockings were used as detachable sleeves on sheer skin-toned tops and also became the borders of knee-length slip skirts. Pleated silk skirts were given structure with girdle belts or featured leather attachments at the side. One of the most interesting pieces was a skirt in contrasting fabrics, with a hook-and-eye closure at the side. And there were bustiers, of course, often open in back and fastened with orthopedic-style straps. The only pants shown, however, were jeans with rivets snaking up the sides.
Blondie was on the soundtrack, but otherwise Andrew Gn interpreted the Eighties in the most subtle ways, channeling it into the modern, luxurious sportswear that has become his signature. His leather-trimmed jersey polos and scalloped skirts embroidered with a wave-print had the retailers smiling. And they showed up in force: Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Colette and Kirna Zabete among them. Gn gave a nod to the trends — military, optic prints and jersey — but kept them sophisticated and chic. Standout looks included a silk halter dress with three-dimensional feather embroidery and a leather-trimmed white silk gown embroidered in black jet beads and clear sequins.
Meanwhile, Jean Colonna showed a collection with a healthy dose of his rock attitude. But T-shirts with a punk collage a la the Sex Pistols, covered with shiny appliques a la the trimming district, do not a collection make. Not even if they’re done up in chiffon, too. On the other hand, Colonna’s distressed Liberty prints, used for pleated skirts or a boyish suit, were just as fun and twice as original.