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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