Paco Rabanne: With Paco Rabanne sitting in the audience and designer Rosemary Rodriguez taking a bow alone for the first time, this was a symbolic season at the house of Rabanne. “It’s the only time in 45 years of fashion that I’ve sat in the audience,” said Rabanne. “I’m passing on the baton.” Rodriguez made a fine effort and took the house a step forward while also drawing on its Space Age-style heritage. Starting with a snakeskin jacket and trousers, the show homed in on eclectic themes, from exotically printed chiffon confections to hippie peasant blouses and full skirts. Rabanne’s signature chain-link pieces were made into vests or integrated into flowing chiffon dresses. Coins dangled from jeans and draped dresses were finished with chain-link bustiers.
Guy Laroche: “Classic and chic” is the way Herve L. Leroux described his first collection for Guy Laroche before the show. And that’s precisely what he delivered, focusing on draped dresses and sleek pantsuits with double-breasted jackets. Most of it came in stretch jersey, making for a lean, athletic silhouette. Inspired by Grace Kelly’s style, he stuck to a palette of white, black, chocolate and plum. Some of the gowns had a dramatic Hollywood glamour, while his sharp tailoring had a Forties flair. It was a solid debut.
Veronique Leroy: That Seventies vibe — with a sexy edge — underscored Veronique Leroy’s strong spring collection. Elongated jodhpurs were paired with cropped jackets or body-baring swimwear. Her use of natural linen had a safari flavor à la Verushka and one dress featured a trompe l’oeil necklace. Baggy hip-hugging pants were given a couture twist when paired with little batik-print jackets. Leroy closed with romantic, feminine silhouettes, such as a long crocheted dress, showing that she can play more than one game.
Cher Michel Klein: With his Cher Michel Klein label, Michel Klein wants to appeal to ladies who like updated classics and Paris chic. In his second runway outing for the line (it’s a play on words between expensive and dear), he developed this idea, adding ethnic references, such as African-shell embroideries and coral decorations. Chiffon blouses and dresses had beading and long satin gowns with silver embroidery hinted at ancient Rome. A very lean Prince-of-Wales skirt with a capelet top and draped dresses with gold chain straps were sophisticated. This collection didn’t reinvent the wheel, but these real clothes have a definite appeal.
Jean Louis Scherrer: Now that Scherrer has established a couture image, the house and its designer, Stephane Roland, are attacking ready-to-wear. This started last season with a showroom presentation and, for spring, Roland brought his wares to the runway, showcasing the sharply tailored silhouettes he’s shown for the couture while adding a nautical theme with sailor’s trousers. There were polkadot dresses and tweed skirts and long colorful satin dresses for evening. Though he hit on many of the trends, Roland still has a way to go before Scherrer’s ready-to-wear finds a life of its own.