If Pieter Mulier’s debut at Alaïa was a tad reverential, his sophomore effort felt freer, more daring — and more conceptual.
He had taken the meticulous constructions of what’s known inside the house as “the Spanish dresses” from the late ’80s and shoved down the skirt portion to just above each knee, resulting in the most dramatic and swishy bell-bottoms in Paris. Occasionally this flare of fabric appeared only on one leg of a one-shouldered, one-legged catsuit, bringing to mind Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, and a recent Rick Owens men’s collection.
The bells were also added to tall boots in white cotton, giving the offbeat impression of a swingy skirt that had shimmied its way nearer the ground.
This was a hot-blooded show, the models stalking a glossy, narrow black runway in catsuits resembling knitted stockings yanked up over the breasts, and tube dresses with varying degrees of transparency, many with a fishtail flourish. A pair of tube dresses were based on bomber and perfecto jackets, the zipper snaking down around the hips.
These two clingy silhouettes dominated the show, with some catsuits accruing denim legs; others a thick ruff of long-haired shearling.
As a counterpoint, Mulier went big with glossy Greta Garbo coats in patent leather, one with a jersey hood built in.
There was a perfume of Poiret and midcentury couture in the oversized tailoring, with Élise Crombez looking chic and mysterious in a double-breasted cocoon coat with its gently hobbling back-belt down toward the knees. This 1920s allure was also felt in the poplin tuxedo shirts extended into fishtail gowns.
The show climaxed with a series of white knitted tube dresses bearing the handiwork of Pablo Picasso, whose bottle ceramics from the 1940s were given living form, with faces etched on the high turtlenecks and breasts demarcated with dabs of embroidery.
“I always thought they were very Azzedine. There’s this rough, pagan beauty about them — the ultimate goddesses,” Mulier enthused in a post-show scrum, noting that the dresses, done hand-in-hand with the artists’ son and estate, would be sold as limited-editions in Alaïa boutiques.