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Paris Fashion Week: new takes on tailoring

After a week characterised by a see-saw of sexy silhouettes and prim retro-flavoured war-time looks, yesterday underlined the Paris catwalks’ other key story – new takes on tailoring.

While a preciseoffering from Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent was contrasted with a more relaxed version from Stella McCartney, the two influential designers were both thinking along strictly commercial lines.

First off, for Pilati, sexy, sheer panelling, oversized feathered fringing and body-con dresses all added to the drama of a deep black power dressing palette that recalled 1980s silhouettes but updated them with technical applications like the unpadded pagoda shoulders and thermo-moulded black leather. One-shouldered dresses, naval skimming necklines and structured tailoring characterised the show before the bright white dénouement in tight bandeau dresses, Grecian drapes and swagged shoulders with oversized pleated bow details that emphasised the shoulders. Powerful stuff and all precisely tailored.

Meanwhile at Stella’s show, we witnessed the creation of a more versatile wardrobe designed to transition smoothly from office to evening. This saw her abandon the utility layering of recent seasons in favour of a more genteel approach. While this nonetheless embraced her relaxed proportions, the use of slinky silks on dresses was contrasted with oversized, boxy jackets.

Slip dresses slashed at the neck, crew neck blouses, oversized wool outerwear and wide hipped trousers looked demure, while high-necked coats and oversized tuxedo jackets were contrasted with spray-on leggings for a sexy look. Fine gauge knitted jumpsuits were less accessible and the peekaboo panels that swept from the navel on a long evening gown were only for the brave. But the dogtooth wool dresses, lace-fringed gowns and the hard-edged biker jackets injected a more achievable glamour and this was a show with plenty for every wardrobe.

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