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Paris shuns safe styles

Womenswear labels showing at Paris Fashion Week over the past seven days threw recessionary caution to the wind, in contrast to the commercially driven brands at the previous week’s Milan Fashion Week, which followed a relatively safe path.

Igniting buyer excitement with a volley of looks from retro-tinged elegance to rock-inspired sexy styles, the Paris shows embraced the city’s reputation for creatively challenging fashion.

Designers drew on their tailoring expertise as some combined powerful 1980s-style shoulders with futuristic angular silhouettes, while others went for a waistline-emphasising look popularised during the Second World War.

At the demure end, presentations from Christian Dior and Lanvin introduced timeless wardrobe classics which drew on the past. John Galliano’s Oriental-inspired, 1940s-tinged autumn 09 creations for Christian Dior made a sophisticated tailoring statement. Cocoon-shaped lantern skirts cut above the knee were matched with puff-shouldered, horizontally tiered pleated jackets. Fur-collared wrapover outerwear was also included in a collection that focused on a colour palette of pink, purple, red and saffron.

The 1940s theme was also referenced by Alber Elbaz at Lanvin. Like John Galliano at Christian Dior, Elbaz focused on skirt suits and tailored separates. Swagged shoulder and waist details drew the eye in a collection which pulled silhouettes into waspish proportions.

The appearance of Vivienne Westwood’s new muse, actress Pamela Anderson, on the catwalk set a sexier note on Saturday. Westwood’s close to the body draped dresses fell below the knee, while slim-fitting tailoring had exaggerated shoulders and a new length which fell below the contrasting micro mini skirts.

Jean Paul Gaultier also chased a racy new look, introducing sexy details to raunchy power tailoring. Fishnet panels were used on halterneck dresses and skirts, with striped diaphanous A-line skirts and dramatic shoulders also featuring.

 

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