E2, the husband-and-wife team of Michele and Olivier Chatenet, are in the last group. Their designs sell well, and their loosely defined notion of couture — reworked vintage pieces — has already won them a wide audience. Last year, they landed the design job at Leonard, a contract that’s just been renewed for another year. In their own refreshing and cool collection, they showed a variety of printed clothes that were recut and detailed with eyelet or chiffon appliques.
At Feraud, designer Yvan Mispelaere is exploring the relationship between form and function. In this, his fourth outing for the house, he played with work clothes, making the ordinary ornate. Heavy industrial fabrics were mixed with delicate silk georgette, while silhouettes were dissected until they were barely recognizable. Mispelaere has a rich imagination, illustrated by his distinctive mixes — the white ostrich leather chaps worn over silk pajama pants, or a parachute cape with harnesses with an embroidered silk tulle vest. There were more approachable pieces, too, such as a beautiful blue gray skirt embroidered with opals.
Dominique Sirop, who began his career by working for Hubert de Givenchy, designs with his client in mind — a woman with an air of refinement who appreciates a beautifully executed dress or suit. In this, his 10th couture collection, the slinky silk georgette cocktail dresses spoke a sophisticated language of seduction.
Franck Sorbier, too, turns to his customers for inspiration — he even had a couple of them model in his pretty show, held in the salons of Christie’s auction house. Though he broke no new fashion ground this season, Sorbier is an accomplished colorist. For spring, he mixed pinks, blues and greens with confidence. This season he reprised the bustiers he favors, which he pairs with floaty organza skirts. Among the best looks was a black Spanish lace skirt worn with a matching delicate silk crepe blouse.
Adeline Andre must be lauded for consistency — for many seasons, she has done her ethereal dresses with an artsy touch. Even the setting for her shows is always a stark Paris gallery. Her frocks, often in layers of transparent silk organza, are pretty but a bit repetitious.
Ji Haye, in a nod to the World Cup soccer competition to be held in her native Korea, scored a goal with a black-and-white organza gown that looked like a dissected soccer ball. Many of her other outfits were equally charming, among them a bustier decorated with miniature theater masks.
Two young designers, Anne Valerie Hash and Bruno Pieters, each showed for the second time this season. Hash, who is French, transformed trousers into dresses or coats, and the results resembled her debut outing last season. Pieters, who is based in Antwerp, stuck to a single silhouette this season, altered some 20 times, as he did for fall. This time, his knickers, tied with a sash at the knee, were paired with an ornate blouse.
Others, however, went in for more fantasy. Armenian-born twins Vartan and Guevork Tarloyan called their second collection Escape, and many of their clothes — from the opulent Indonesian doll-inspired number to a Tibetan-style pantsuit — would have been perfect for the stage. The Russian duo of Vladimir Seredin and Seguei Vasiliev, who have dressed opera singers in Moscow for the past decade, were also dramatic. From a gown embroidered with crystals to a silk kimono with a sheep fur belt, they showed vivid imaginations. Frederic Molenac, who has used his couture efforts to launch a ready-to-wear collection, continued with his tribal take on urban fashion this season, with inspirations that ranged from Africa to the Far East.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Cocqueline Courreges unveiled an installation at her boutique that featured four dresses positioned behind a magnifying curtain. She also presented her research to develop a protein that she hopes will one day supersede more traditional textiles.