Don’t let the tropical plants and cocktail colors fool you — the Paule Ka collection, shown in a hothouse at the Paris botanical garden, was actually inspired by creative director Alithia Spuri-Zampetti’s recent trip to Japan.
Though she was fulfilling a lifelong dream, the designer did not find instant gratification. “When I got there, I found everything a little hard,” she said of arriving in Tokyo. “And gradually — I was there for two weeks — I started to discover much more poetic things.”
That evolution was reflected in the collection, which was shown on models and invisible forms surrounded by dense foliage that made rainbow-colored dresses look as if they were floating mid-air. Rigorous tailoring, including a judo-style belted white coat dress, gradually gave way to the fancy of rich kimono textures and linings.
Spuri-Zampetti was at ease in both registers. On the one hand, the precision of a graphic striped column gown, with the label’s signature bow rendered as a flat geometric motif — a nod to the obi belt. On the other, the exuberance of dresses in fil coupé floral jacquards covered in fabric petals, feathers and 3-D appliqués.
But where her inspiration flowed the most freely was in the unstructured looks, like a loosely draped slate-blue silk dress with a watery red floral print and its companion, an ochre yellow pajama-style trouser suit. Though crowded at times, the presentation made for some memorable sights, like an off-the-shoulder gown in a subtle pink dégradé with its hem dipping in a goldfish pond.