Mar 8, 2009
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Dries Van Noten showcases classic winter coats

Mar 8, 2009

Dries Van Noten autumn/winter 2009 ready-to-wear collection - Photo : Patrick Kovarik/AFP
PARIS, March 8, 2009 (AFP) - In these cash-strapped times, Belgian designer Dries Van Noten wisely built his collection Sunday for Paris fashion week around a wardrobe staple: the classic winter coat.

Women may think twice in a recession about frittering on fripperies. But a beautiful coat, which gives years of service, can always be regarded as an investment.

Van Noten offered plenty of choice, from his opening number -- a fawn teddybear wool coat -- to versions in cyclamen pink, crushed raspberry, teal and slate blue.

Softly tailored, without distracting buttons or visible fastenings, worn with belts tied casually at the waist, they had a timeless quality. Jackets were similarly styled, over skinny midi and maxi skirts in burnt orange and dusty pink.

A mock croc blouson and the odd trenchcoat in grey fake snakeskin or sand yellow satin were a nod to frivolity.

Slinky jersey dresses mixed blurred black and white prints with olive, violet, peach or salmon.

The pared-down-to-essentials feel of the collection seemed an elegant and appropriate response to the recession.

Now into his third season at Ungaro, the 24-year-old Colombian-born designer Esteban Cortazar has clearly got to grips with the fashion house's DNA.

There were lashings of Ungaro's fetish fuschia pink and its trademark polka dots and spotty prints, mingled with Prince of Wales check.

Short puffball skirts or city shorts were topped with sheer chiffony blouses with pussycat bow ties and a cape effect over the shoulders. While demure in front, some were only fastened at the neck behind, to expose a bare back.

His flirty party frocks were second-skin ruched sheaths in patchworks of spotty prints or bold single colours, crimson, orange, magenta and cornflower blue.

Chunky knit cardigans with big shawl collars stood in for coats.

Everything came with opaque blue or fuschia pink hose, sometimes glammed up with silver studs or gold stars, and worn with clunky silver stiletto-heeled platforms.

Meanwhile, for his own label, Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld elevated the motorcycle helmet to fashion icon, covering it with fur and fake gemstones.

"I see everybody wearing helmets and it is not always very flattering," he told AFP. "Fur and hair looks much the same. I like the effect of putting an iPod in there."

Lagerfeld's deluxe fur helmets sometimes had jewels nestling inside, and topped off anything from zipped up body-hugging black pants to a suit.

Lagerfeld also gave new importance to the shoulders, a general trend at the ongoing Paris fall-winter shows, but stressed that for him it was not a return to the power-dressing shoulder pads of the 1980s.

He said the shoulderline was a kind of "bridge" which should dictate the silhouette and give the garment movement.

Singaporean designer Andrew GN's collection exuded luxury with a refinement bordering on couture.

The impression is reinforced by his use of high-end materials, like a "mock croc" silk brocade with an authentic reptilian texture for matador pants and the silver Arctic fox fur lavished on deep collars and cuffs.

Strips of python and patent leather trimmed edges of jackets, or highlighted zips on pockets, or were inlaid into handcrafted fastenings and buckles and even fashioned into wide bangles.

A chestnut satin blouse with herringbone pattern seams had cut-outs over the bosom edged in python.

Evening gowns from his atelier range -- in copper, bottle green and midnight blue -- twinkled with iridiscent crystals and jet beading, with gemstones at the bosom or atop the shoulder and at the wrists, inspired by 1930s Cartier jewellery.by Sarah Shard

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