Mon, Mar 11, 2002 - Page 17 News List

Givenchy jumps into ready-to-wear

FASHION The third day of Paris fashion week featured shows by Jean-Paul Gaultier and Cacharel as Julien Macdonald shook things up with a rough-cut collection

REUTERS , PARIS

Welsh fashion designer Julien Macdonald for Givenchy, second from right, smiles after his fall-winter 2002/2003 ready-to-wear collection was presented in Paris on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Welsh designer Julien Macdonald changed gear with a raunchy ready-to-wear collection for Givenchy on Saturday featuring distressed biker gear and slinky evening gowns in metallic tones of bronze, slate and rust.

Motorcycle girls took a ride through Elizabethan England in petrol blue and copper fitted leather jackets with cupped collars and trousers that flared out like bloomers before tapering into narrow boots. To a soundtrack of Rod Stewart's "Do ya think I'm sexy?," models paraded in billowing capes with cowls tucked under trilby hats in the display on the third day of Paris fashion week, which also featured shows by Jean-Paul Gaultier and Cacharel.

Macdonald turned his back on the humble fabrics featured in his first show for Givenchy last season, replacing cotton jersey and canvas with sumptuous silk, velvet and fur. After all, who wants to spend hundreds of dollars on a simple cotton vest?

However, he didn't go all the way back to his roots as a purveyor of barely there dresses for pop stars like the Spice Girls. At Givenchy, the glamour was more subtle, with plunging shifts in liquid black satin with diamante details.

There was only one problem with this approach -- Givenchy is still struggling to establish a clear identity, unlike Dior and Louis Vuitton, its stablemates at the luxury conglomerate LVMH.

French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier aired his dirty laundry in a witty show that had models stripping off coats and jackets to hang them on a sliding dry cleaner's rail.

The display opened with a dressmaker's bust and empty hangers emerging from a clear plastic curtain and circling the catwalk hanging from the central rail fixed overhead.

As models stepped out, they peeled off their outer layers and draped them on the hangers, although the effect was more akin to an art exhibition than to a laundry rack.

Gaultier paid homage to environmental artist Christo, famed for wrapping landmarks such as the Pont Neuf in Paris and the Reichstag in Berlin, by wrapping and padding his models like parcels in luxurious layers of wool and silk.

Nylon waistcoats puffed out like life jackets, while silk scarves were bound over chiffon dresses to sensual effect.

"The clothes were a bit dirty so we sent them to the laundry -- ha ha ha! It's my beautiful launderette!" an exuberant Gaultier told reporters backstage.

British design duo Clements Ribeiro played it safe at Cacharel with a prim collection featuring prints by textile designer Celia Birtwell, the former wife and creative collaborator of 1960s British designer Ossie Clark.

Leaves were scattered over knee-length skirts and ladylike pussy bow blouses, while graphic prints gave a modern edge to floaty chiffon tunics and tank tops trimmed with ribbed jersey.

Birtwell changed the face of fashion with designs that were worn by style icons like Veruschka and the Beatles.

Her collaboration with the husband-and-wife team of Inacio Ribeiro and Suzanne Clements is likely to give Cacharel added cachet among London's hip crowd, although whether traditional clients will appreciate its significance is another matter.

Clements Ribeiro have had to tone down their edgier concepts for the label's stores in provincial France. As with most fashion houses, the real money-spinner is perfume and Cacharel has developed a new fragrance to go with its revamped image.

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