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Spring 11 catwalks full of contrasts

Jessica Brown

The spring 11 catwalk season drew to a close in Paris this week and was characterised by the very fact that each event - New York, London, Milan and the French capital - backed some wildly contrasting trends.

The spring 11 catwalk season drew to a close in Paris this week and was characterised by the very fact that each event - New York, London, Milan and the French capital - backed some wildly contrasting trends. While London brought us white, sportswear, the trouser and 1970s chic, Milan took us into full-on colour (see Gucci and Jil Sander in our full report on p27-38) and the Parisian houses revived rock chicks (Balmain and Isabel Marant) or delved deeper into this autumn’s exploration of elegant classics (Chloé and Céline). Chanel was accomplished though, embracing its heritage with just enough newness.

To be frank, it’s all been a bit ad-hoc (see Stella McCartney’s soft tailoring meets tropical prints), which points towards designers trying to please every possible customer. Perhaps they were nervous about what 2011 will bring economy-wise. The seemingly random directions will be hard for the high street to distil but the winners look likely to be white, lace, fringing, brights, tailoring, trousers, minimalist sportswear and 1970s. Studded leather jackets, skinny jeans and ripped denim have been done too recently and should be avoided if you are serious about giving your customer a reason to buy a new wardrobe next spring.

One triumph was Sarah Burton’s first collection in charge of the Alexander McQueen label following the designer’s death earlier this year. She cleverly stuck to the design house’s signature style with high necks, slim-fit trousers, frock coats and dramatic gowns but injected enough of her own personality to prove that the McQueen name is indeed here to stay. The praise from the fashion crowd was genuine rather than lip service.

To view all of the designer collections in full go to www.drapersonline.com/catwalks and see next week’s issue for our views on Paris.

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