SOPHISTICATED SPORTS, COOL ROCKERS AND FRISKY GIRLS
THIS PARIS SPRING SEASON IS A CREATURE OF CONSIDERABLE VARIETY. AND THE SPORTIF LOOKS AT CERRUTI, DEMEULEMEESTER’S STYLISH CLUB GEAR AND RYKIEL’S COLORFUL LITTLE MINIS PROVED THAT POINT.

Cerruti: Real clothes for real people. Peter Speliopoulos has never been shy about his mandate for Cerruti, never overloading his clothes with extraneous design elements that distract. Let the others have those momentary fads. He’ll dress his women for everyday life. For spring, Speliopoulos kept that sophistication, but also fumbled with ideas that didn’t always work. The strong-shouldered military regime made its way here, reworked into silk and linen jackets, caviar-beaded blouses or safari shirts, epaulets and all. And they looked fine, but when delicate silk polo shirts were tucked into briefs and tailored blazers into short-shorts, then reality dressing needed a reality check. Who’s going to wear these? Sure, the odd pair of shorts is amusing, but to replay the idea repeatedly seemed wrong, especially for a designer so rooted in traditional sportswear. Speliopoulos also flirted with patterns and texture, showing a floral photo print and a black floral lace, though it looked more like cobwebs. The effect was interesting, but his real forte for spring was his dresses. All of them looked fantastic, including his faux-suspender silhouette — a jersey shirtdress with sheer panel insets, a crocheted one with appliqued straw flowers and three dynamite Grecian-draped dresses. Sexy and simple — just what the real world needs.

Ann Demeulemeester: Elegant rocker gear is Ann Demeulemeester’s specialty. Just give the lady a little black leather and stand back — she knows from lean and mean. While her approach may not always parallel those of her peers, Demeulemeester’s sophisticated take on Tough Chic looked right-on this time. Both her sharp-shouldered minidresses and miniskirts, which were shown under men’s blazers, were wound with clever belts that looked like so many yards of bicycle chain but were made from industrial strength snaps.
And who better than Ann to do a refined take on club gear? She sent out pants in tie-dyed violet and black suede that started out slim, but ended up wide — wide enough to rival those of any raver. T-shirts were twisted, while nonchalant knits were shown with big, belled sleeves that took her look cool, and beyond.
Hair, however, of the human-looking kind, should be left under the barber’s chair and should not turn up sandwiched between the layers of a gauze top. How gross! But no matter. For evening, Demeulemeester returned to her clever ways, studding minis with silver snaps instead of relying on mere sequins, and proving that in her hands even the most indelicate materials can suddenly turn beautiful.

Sonia Rykiel: Butch Chic — dirty words to the ears of Sonia Rykiel. She wouldn’t dare go there, nor even hint at it, despite all the hard-edged glamour prancing down others’ runways. Instead, she prefers her romps raucous, loud, spirited — and colorful, to boot. Just good ole girly fun. Girlfriends, chatting and giggling on the runway, in maillots and bikinis, decorated with flowers and bright-colored plastic sun hats, were having a wonderful time. And fun, too — delightful little knit dresses, micro-minis in screaming acid colors as well as sexy strapless numbers inset with scenes of the beach.
Harlequin patchwork leather blousons and pants also made the scene, along with a flurry of fluorescent silk and nylon dresses, all with matching marabou boleros. Daring girls were there, too, wearing cheeky little bra tops embroidered with sequined cherries peeking out from under tailored jackets paired with skinny pants; gold denim jackets and a black satin jumpsuit loaded with heavy-duty gold zippers, including one that circled the waist for true separates dressing. And that’s as butch as it gets.

Nina Ricci: In her fourth season as artistic director at Nina Ricci, Nathalie Gervais continued her trek to modernize the house. Making an effort to give Ricci a stronger identity, she put her models in Sixties-inspired, minimal, monochromatic clothes. Still, she played it relatively safe, using a monotonous palette of beige, brown and black — with occasional splashes of vibrant pink and yellow or a single geometric circle print. Pleated chiffon skirts were ultra-short and paired with fluid, plunging blouses or matching halter tops. Her best pieces were the fluorescent pink satin and chiffon mini-dress with spaghetti straps and the finale of short sequined dresses, which packed more of a punch than the rest.

Kenzo: In the program notes, designer Gilles Rosier, to whom Kenzo Takada passed the baton when he retired last year, indicated that he was striving to create a new silhouette based on geometry. But his effort hardly looked fresh. Instead, he mixed elements of the Eighties and the Seventies into a collection that never managed to get up and run. Rosier worked with safari colors such as beige and white, using them in a procession of jersey or linen skirts worn with leggings or belted with braided leather. Although the tops were sometimes sexy, the slouched, rounded shoulders looked forced, and they didn’t reflect the easy style Kenzo is known for. Rosier’s best pieces included the leather dress and skirt embroidered with an abstract geometric pattern.

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