PARIS — From Eighties to artsy, designers here went with the trends of the moment or tried to carve out their own niches. And, although there was no common thread linking their efforts, their creativity and diversity underscores Paris’s allure as a melting pot of divergent fashion voices.
There was no mistaking Eric Bergere’s mood. His collection was cold, hard Eighties straight through to its core. A tiered lace dress was worn over leggings, sleek linen trenchcoats were triple-belted and cinched tight, while a gold jersey gown slid off the shoulder just so. It was Bergere at his sexiest.
The Eighties were also on display chez Christophe Lemaire, who mixed elements of that decade with a dash of Fifties flair. There were slick rockabilly trousers, lace and jersey skirts, and sweatshirt mini dresses. The shirts came striped with rolled sleeves, while skirts and dresses printed with geometric motifs were easy and clean. Lemaire, named this year as Lacoste creative director, didn’t give up his penchant for high-tech fabrics, however, which he used in sleek, high-collar trenchcoats and skirts embroidered with abstract patterns.
Ask Lucien Pellat-Finet about the Eighties, and he’ll say, “Forget it.” He’d rather keep churning out the plush cashmeres he’s famous for. Yes, most of it looked the same, but there’s still no chicer way to wear a cannabis leaf than on the back of a beefy, multi-ply cashmere. Ditto for a skull motif or the designer’s family crest, both offered this season as knitted patterns. Add to that dynamite leather macs and skirts treated to look like distressed alligator.
For his second season back at the helm of his house, Paco Rabanne showed a sure hand with his time-tested futuristic designs, giving them an Eighties touch. Of course, that meant lots of his signature metal mesh, worked into Barberella-like micro-mini dresses. A chunk of the collection concentrated on mesh swimwear fit for space-age warrior babes — even if steel isn’t recommended for tanning.
Making his Paris debut, 24-year-old Brazilian Icarius de Menezes presented body-conscious, sexy clothes with sharp cuts and transparent fabrics. Strong-shouldered dresses were long and flowing, and the skimpy bikinis and bodysuits reminiscent of his sunny homeland. While white was his operative word, he spiced it up with fluorescent green and orange as well as a striking photo print of a naked woman that was deconstructed in a neo-Cubist way.
Jurgi Persoons doesn’t do typical fashion shows. Instead, the Antwerp, Belgium-based designer likes to exhibit his work in a setting rivaling a museum installation. This time, the Tuilieries Gardens were his canvas, with Persooons turning his models into living statues by cocooning them in plastic egg-like structures. And the clothes fit perfectly into the strange, nocturnal setting. Mostly in black, silver and white, they were chic and classic, with an attractive arts and crafts twist.
Over the last couple of seasons, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac has concentrated on rejuvenating his house. That’s exactly what he did with his spring collection of Seventies cartoon pinup babes that looked straight out of a comic book. Instead of complicating the shapes, he added verve with color and wild Pop Art prints. The multipocket pantsuit with military epaulettes was easy and fresh. His short and sexy minidresses were a modern interpretation of the Bridget Bardot “Comic Strip” look.
Andre Walker was inspired by African design. He dubbed his collection RASTA, or Recreational Agreements Surrounding Taste Appreciations — and the result was as weird and surprising as its name. Looks included floating knee-length skirts with attached stockings and fluid navy jersey dresses. It’s a pity, however, that Walker doesn’t have proper technical and commercial support. The clothes would be terrific if they were more accessible.
Marcel Marongiu, on the other hand, had no artistic pretensions. He sent out a chic and pretty collection with a rock twist. He paired jersey dresses with military belts. Wrapped tops and skirts came in crisp cotton. The collection was safe — but, after all, Marongiu is out to sell. In fact, he used the show as an opportunity to launch his secondary line — Marcel.