Paris Fashion Week Closes On Ladylike Theme

Paris fashion week drew to a close Sunday with designers setting up camp near the City of Light’s top tourist attractions to showcase their creations for next fall.

Louis Vuitton planted a transparent tent in a courtyard of the Louvre museum, while Nina Ricci’s show in the adjacent Tuileries gardens was held in a tent that had a large opening in the back, giving guests a view of trees shrouded in artificial mist.

Lanvin staged its display in a tent opposite the Eiffel Tower, where waiters greeted guests with fruit-flavored macaroons.

The day capped off four weeks of international shows that saw a return of ladylike dressing. Major trends included sculpted cocoon coats, full structured sleeves and masculine tailoring such as wide pants.

“I personally like the direction that fashion is going in. I’m a little tired of all the girly, Lolita-esque style dressing,” said Anne Slowey, fashion news director at the U.S. edition of ELLE.

“For our generation, we’ve never seen clothes like this before and that’s really very exciting to me,” she added.

A look from the John Galliano collection (AP)

American designer Marc Jacobs did an about-face on last season’s pastoral romp at Vuitton, sending out a collection inspired by the paintings of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer.

Sitting in the front row was actress Scarlett Johansson, who played Vermeer’s muse in “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and stars in Vuitton’s spring advertising campaign.

Models stepped out in artist’s smocks rendered in supple leather and topped with floppy berets. Draped dresses were dip-dyed in a rainbow of colors, with blue merging into coral, purple and pink.

High-tech fabrics included plastic-coated sheepskin that gave a brilliant sheen to the label’s trademark monogram handbags.

“We played a lot with high-end fabrics and then kind of stranger techniques on expensive fabrics, such as some things that looked like synthetics,” Jacobs told reporters.

“It was quite paradoxical and ironical to make something that is so luxurious and to treat it in a way that is so not luxurious.”

For his highly anticipated debut at Ricci, Belgian designer Olivier Theyskens offered feather-light angora knits and swirling evening gowns in evanescent shades of gray and tangy lemon yellow.

Theyskens has been absent from the Paris catwalks for a year, after his previous employer Rochas shut its ready-to-wear division, leaving the critically acclaimed designer without a job.

Even before his official debut, the 30-year-old scored a major coup by dressing Reese Witherspoon during the awards ceremony season, culminating with the widely praised purple gown she wore to the Oscars a week ago.

That dress, like the outfits shown on the catwalk, was inspired by the twisting lines of the bottle for Ricci’s classic fragrance L’Air du Temps.

A fluffy gray angora sweater with diagonal ribs was paired with white skinny jeans and white boots, but things really took off with the ballgowns, which included a draped yellow bustier dress made from flower-patterned brocade.

“I wanted to show how you can make something look light and flying, almost like wings,” the soft-spoken designer said.

Retailers’ response to the pre-fall collection unveiled in January has been phenomenal, according to Mario Grauso, president of Spain’s Puig Fashion Group, which owns the label.

“The support from retailers has been huge. Everyone wants the collection,” he said.

French label Lanvin also has a strong Hollywood fan base — on a recent visit to Paris, Sarah Jessica Parker raided its flagship store.

Israeli-American designer Alber Elbaz checked all of the season’s key trends with hunchback dresses with leg-o’-mutton sleeves, slim shifts with large ruffles down the back and masculine blazers paired with ultraslim pencil skirts.

The predominantly black collection was punctuated by brilliant flashes of red, orange and purple, which has emerged as a dominant shade for next winter.

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