, PARIS, Oct 6 – A lot rides on a debut collection at the Paris ready-to-wear shows.
In the cut-and-thrust world of fashion, now exacerbated by the global downturn, new designers get only three seasons to prove they can make a difference to flagging sales.
Enthusiastic, young, Colombian born Esteban Cortazar, who failed to make the grade at Ungaro, has been replaced by Spanish designer Estella Archs, fresh from Nina Ricci, but with a new twist: Hollywood bad girl Lindsay Lohan, whose drug habits and drink-driving conviction turned her into paparazzi fodder, is the prestigious house’s official muse.
The pair of them did a circuit together at the end of Sunday’s show, which, all credit to Archs, was full of the kind of clothes that wealthy girls, who would recognise 23-year-old Lohan from the covers of glossy magazines and want to dress like her, might be happy to shell out the money to make it happen.
Hemlines were perilously high in the opening sequence of sheaths with ruched bodices and square-shouldered mini-dresses in violet and clashing cyclamen pink and orange.
More elegant alternatives were pairings of matador jackets with high-waisted pencil trousers or fuller harem pants.
But the target audience was blatantly clear in the stripey blazers in glazed satin which flapped open over bra tops or even bare breasts, with just circles of sequins covering the nipples for modesty, which should have an under-25 wear-by date on them.
Prints, once a key part of the house’s style, were largely sidelined, except for one with little hearts, which was wittily echoed in cut-outs of heart shapes on white fabric with scarlet sequins glinting behind.
Karl Lagerfeld’s own label collection earlier Sunday looked sassy and streetwise, with the very on-trend emphasis on tailored city shorts, a more realistic alternative to the flimsy satin boxers being touted by John Galliano at Dior.
Over the ubiquitous shorts Lagerfeld put curvy jackets, softly rounded over the shoulders and fastened by a single button, with hemlines folded back upwards to form natty front pockets.
Safari-style versions of the jacket with button-down pockets, epaulettes and turn-ups also went well.
Cocktail frocks were streamlined, like his deceptively simple cream halterneck with the waist accentuated by a wide black shiny patent leather belt.
Evening dresses with puffed sleeves and frontal zips had metal carapaces and bands of silver leather at the hem.
Singaporean designer Andrew Gn also appears to have tuned in on the trend for shorts in his collection geared to attract the luxury end of the market.
He topped his shorts in a white linen-wool mix or in black silk mikado with ruffled blouses with three-quarter length sleeves, in brilliant white guipure or patchworks of lace, embroidered or appliqued with flower motifs and butterflies.
Exquisite hand-enamelled buttons held drapery in place while showy semi-precious stones and metals were sprinkled liberally over shoulders to further enhance the luxury of his fetish fabrics, like silk faille and moire.