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Paris Fashion Week

Paris paid homage to femininity this season, with designers focusing on hourglass silhouettes and pastel shades. Laura Jackson reports

Whether enveloping models in candy-coloured chiffon or defining feminine proportions via hourglass silhouettes, Paris’s spring 08 showcase injected a dose of the avant-garde to grown-up glamour.

Valentino’s final prêt-a-porter collection was one of the biggest supporters of the feminine form. Packed with 1950s polka dots and pastels on pretty shifts and evening gowns, show-stopping curves were at the forefront of his presentation. A womanly form was also emphasised at Lanvin, where ruffles and ostrich feathers took centre stage as multicoloured dresses sashayed down the catwalk in a whirl of billowing fabrics and frou-frou detailing.

Among the more forward-thinking collections was Chloé. Geometric and art-inspired prints provided bursts of colour in a presentation characterised by 1980s silhouettes. More kooky was Marc Jacobs’ fanciful set of dolly mixture-hued knits, leather twinsets and net bows, which dazzled with their clashing colours and art deco prints.

The most extravagant productions were saved for the two show masters of Paris, John Galliano – in his mainline collection – and Alexander McQueen. Galliano’s pantomime theme painted a picture of exaggerated fancy, with larger-than-life ruffles and frothy layers on 1920s-inspired flippy dresses and floor-length flamenco-style evening frocks. McQueen also took audiences into a world of imagination, with extravagant headwear paying tribute to Isabella Blow, while angled jackets, padded shoulders and pointed skirts exaggerated curves to theatrical effect.

Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga continued the structured theme, but toned down the female form slightly by offering more wearable, exaggerated hourglass shapes. Wide, squared-off shoulders and tulip-shaped skirts gave the illusion of a corseted waist on innovative digitally printed floral silk.

Departing slightly from the overtly female tone was John Galliano’s Christian Dior line. A flirty look courtesy of pretty slip dresses with embroidered patterns and 1940s-style fishtail frocks was juxtaposed against masculine tailoring, with jauntily angled top hats and satin-lapel jackets.

Also championing the tailored theme for spring was Stefano Pilati’s presentation at Yves Saint Laurent. Focusing on jackets, Pilati mixed sleeveless blazers with louche trousers to give a casual feel to tailoring, using a simple palette of neutrals with splashes of sky blue.

Sombre looks were few and far between, but Givenchy opted for a subdued palette of black and white, dove grey and beige in a military stance. A circular motif featured in oversized spot prints, plasticised cut-out detailing and miniature black baubles.

Youth-led collections are not a mainstay for Paris, but Stella McCartney offered a fun young show, referencing 1970s hippy chic in filmy floral dresses and printed jumpsuits in paisley and dolphin motifs. Karl Lagerfeld continued his penchant for a younger look at Chanel with 1950s all-American panelled denim and stars and stripes prints.

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