In the spring, a young (or not-so-young or middle-aged) designer’s mind turns to thoughts of ... exotic tropical vacations! Mimosas on the beach! Bettie Page at a South Pacific naval base! (That straight from John Galliano at Christian Dior; I couldn’t make it up). Well, who can blame them?
As winter looms cold and grey, how much more invigorating to dream of warmer climes with all their decorative possibilities. Bird-of-paradise orange was the colour of the season, roses paled next to orchids, palm trees spread their leaves, and fruit hung heavy on silk-screened boughs. Juicy.
Sleeveless in springtime
Hard to appreciate now, I know, but it’ll be hot when these clothes get to stores. OK, well, maybe not hot-hot, since deliveries start so early these days, but on the cusp of hot – hot will be within reach – and what better way to cool down when temperatures rise than to wear fewer clothes? Easier said than done, however, in a professional environment, which is why these particular jackets are such a useful idea. Smart enough to wear to work, and comfortable enough to survive the sweltering months, they bridge the gap between office and off-duty.
It’s fluffy, it’s fluttery, it’s ... a swan. No, it’s an ostrich. No, actually, it’s a woman, amid a sea of down. In many ways, feathers are the fur of summer, and just as designers embraced large pelts for winter, so too they went whole-flock for the following season. While statement-making is fine on a catwalk, lay people might be better advised to exercise some restraint in their bird imitations, opting for the suggestion of flight, as opposed to full lift-off (Chanel, for example, offered lovely tweed suits trimmed in tiny rows of feathers as an alternative to the woman-as-emu gown). In your imagination you can still fly, fly away.
Bold and bejewelled: From luxe T-shirts to ‘sculpture’ for the wrist
Off-piste in Paris things were generally subdued, but one item kept sprouting up like, well, daffodils in springtime: the luxe T-shirt. It was black or white and strung with silk screens of pearls at Tom Binns, sequin-sleeved or capped with diamante at Schumacher, and crowned with a collar of crystal paillettes at Lucien Pellat-Finet.
But everywhere it was entirely tongue-in-chic (not to mention accessibly priced) and utterly engaging. Fashion rarely has a sense of humour about itself, but its recent economic difficulties seem to have provoked a re-evaluation of sorts, and suddenly smart designers are engaging in a little gentle auto-lampooning (or not so gentle: Tom Binns has created an absolutely extraordinary collar of signature coloured rhinestones, and named it – really – “Couture hand-painted really big f*** off necklace”).
It goes beyond T-shirts. Delfina Delettrez Fendi, for example, knitted silver into intricate filigree collars for jumpers, as delicate as lace – and then decorated them with a stream of silver ants crawling down one side. At Roger Vivier, Bruno Frisoni put a cartoon-like fish on his crystal evening bag, and then created another fishy straw day number, where the flap closure lifts to reveal ... said fish’s skeleton, giving new meaning to the idea of the “tasteful” accessory. And at Boucheron, they unveiled a new collaboration with watch iconoclast Maximilian Büsser of MB&F: a three-dimensional “kinetic sculpture” for the wrist in the shape of a giant jewelled owl, its amethyst eyes covering the time and date mechanisms, purple sapphires and diamonds curving around to form its feathers.
Though nominally a watch, in actual fact, Büsser admitted, time was “an accessory” to the object itself, and the incredibly complicated workmanship therein. Translation: “You need to keep your BlackBerry close by,” he laughed.
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For Vanessa Friedman’s fashion blog, visit www.ft.com/materialworld