Fashion: Balmain's rich past, Chinese newcomers

26th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 26, 2007 (AFP) - Paris winter womenswear shows got off to a diverse start -- with jet-set luxury from an established French fashion house and China as the new design kid on the block.

PARIS, Feb 26, 2007 (AFP) - Paris winter womenswear shows got off to a diverse start -- with jet-set luxury from an established French fashion house and China as the new design kid on the block.

With an eye on its past, Balmain had just the wardrobe for the young international jet-set, unveiled Sunday to buyers and editors on the final week of a month of ready-to-wear shows that has already taken in New York, London and Milan.

Soaring hems right up to high-thigh on high-glam dresses moulded around the waist and hips would surely be perfect for showing off long tanned legs after the beaches of the Caribbean.

For turning heads in the disco later, options included blouson jackets in flyaway feathers, skinny pants that flared dramatically around the knee, glitter vests or faintly transparent tops.

Thick embroidery in metal sequins created a weighty contrast to the carefree spirit of draped and lightly-structured dresses, sparkling as epaulettes on a feathery jacket or across low-waisted pants.

Studs dotted the black suede platform ankle boots worn under bare legs.

Designer Christophe Decarnin, who made his debut for the label in February 2006, said he was mindful of the history of the house, established by Pierre Balmain in 1945.

His inspiration was "always the couture of Balmain", but a book on Vikings given to the house's founder in the 1950s had also been a starting point, he said.

After making his historic entry as China's first designer to take part at a Paris fashion week last October, Frankie Xie returned with an English country gentleman theme for his label, Jefen.

In countryside tweeds, soft tartan, Prince of Wales check and gabardine, his masculine cape-jacket, wide high-waisted cuffed trousers, satin-backed waistcoats and even a cricket tank top had a post-war 1940s feel.

The deerstalker hats and a long green tweed cape with brown leather trim was very Sherlock Holmes. But together with the mannish tuxedo, tailcoat and toe-cap high-heel brogues also came sweet little dresses, often left cheekily hanging open at the back.

The designer, who established the label in 2000, said after the show that reaction to his maiden Paris collection had been good, although people had been surprised to find a Chinese designer showing a collection in Paris.

There has been a lot of demand from Europe and Japan, he said backstage.

A more conceptual approach came from Wuyong (which translates as 'useless') by fellow Chinese designer Ma Ke whose earth-themed 'happening' featured faceless mud-smothered models like statues on illuminated plinths.

In coarse knit, rough sack or doormat type material, wire, rope and thick crunched or paper-like fabrics, the somewhat theatrical clothes in shades of earth and stone had an peasant roughness.

But they were also artistic. A coat was deconstructed so the arms began at the hip drooping to the floor, a skirt was puffed to softly roll under at mid-calf, while other refined details included narrow folds, asymmetric seams or embroidered flowers.

"I want to create things which, though they may appear quite useless today, are the bearers of values for the future," Ma Ke, who also designs a domestic line produced by the Mixmind group, said in a press statement.

On Monday, Japanese veteran Yohji Yamamoto, Dutch duo Viktor and Rolf and Belgium's Martin Margiela unveil their women's autumn/winter 2007/08 collections here. Paris fashion week runs until March 4.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article