Jul 1, 2008
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Lagerfeld predicts a grey winter

Jul 1, 2008

PARIS, July 1, 2008 (AFP) - Karl Lagerfeld's backdrops for his collections for Chanel are usually a witty reference to the house's emblems, but his choice of gleaming grey columns for his haute couture show on Tuesday was enigmatic.

Givenchy fall-winter 2008/2009
Photo : François Guillot/AFP

Was it Japanese zen or installation art, people wondered?

Thundering organ music in the sound track appeared to be a clue - and the designer confirmed after the show that he had been inspired by the pipes of a recently restored great organ in a Paris concert hall.

The decor dictated the lack of colour in his haute couture collection for next autumn-winter, he explained. "There is just a spash of pink. Otherwise it is all in half tones."

For day or night, his palette ran the gamut of greys from pearl and platinum to steel and anthracite.

His new silhouette involved a smocking effect round the waist. The long-line jackets of his dayside suits billowed out at the back, ending only just above the knee-length skirts. Collars set back from the neck and elbow length sleeves prevailed for satin cocktail outfits and a dressy little coat in black chevrons spangled with gold sequins.

House signature flecked tweeds were glammed up with ostrich feathers, also worn as delicate bracelets attached to pearls at the wrist.

Grand ball gowns in charcoal and pale grey taffeta had scoops of faux camelias slung in the back, or outsize cartwheel sleeves and fish tails.

But some frocks that looked as if they had been constructed from a piping with semi-detached sleeves held up by tiny straps, struck an odd note.

The audience sweltered as the sun beating down on the glass roof of the Grand Palais turned it into a giant greenhouse, in ironic contrast to last year when the show was held outside and a violent rainstorm turned the venue into a sea of mud.

After the monochromes of Chanel, Christian Lacroix's collection glowed with vibrant colour, from the acid lemon of a stiff faille coat, to the arabesque of ruby thread embroidery running down the side of opaque black hose or the magenta jacket overlaid with black lace of his matador's outfit.

Models had their hair pinned up into punkish mohican styles, reminiscent of military plumed helmets, while their faces were half hidden by dainty black lace masks like mini mantillas.

The opening sequence of corsetted jackets with boning and velvet facing was inspired by the armour-plated carapaces of insects.

A double-breasted white mini coat with brushstrokes of carmine red had jewel buttons as big as teacups, while sleeves were often the size of balloons.

Evening gowns were all flounces, ruffles and tiers, with swathes of precious fabric scrunched up or knotted and held in place with ribbons or bows, in dramatically striking silhouettes that looked both contemporary and as if they could have stepped off a 17th century Spanish painting.

Everything dripped with jet, whether as heavy necklaces and pendants shaped like incense burners or as over-embroidery on fragile lace, providing a sharp contrast to Lacroix' palette of dusty pastels, almond green, parma and candy pink.

While many of his creations look extremely complicated, Lacroix insisted to AFP before the show that "there are always things that can be removed" to make his designs more accessible -- and commercial.

His summary of his look for next autumn-winter was "short and sexy but well-bred."by Sarah Shard

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