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Couture at Dior is Pretty, Tough To Take

July 10, 1995

PARIS (AP) _ Dior’s winter haute couture collection Monday was an exercise in high style _ and high stilettos _ by designer Gianfranco Ferre. While it lacked a sense of comfort, it made up for all that in colors, a la Cezanne.

Ferre knows he’s designing for the creme de la creme and comes up with formalized styles that often look more suited to statues than live fashion plates.

But Ferre does know about sharp cut and colors, this time emphasizing short skirts covering or just above the knee, a palette of sumptuous fabrics and colors dedicated to Cezanne, whose works will be shown soon in a huge retrospective.

Daytime ideas include fur stoles and lots of mohair, trimming items like the fitted pea-green coat dress or a violet boxy coat over shades of lavender in a skirt or blouse.

The high-cut bright green bolero over a lean chocolate whip cord dress looked worthy of the Dior name, as did the deep sky blue greens in a boucle alpaca shortie coat, over a short jacket and skirt in the same shades.

The extraordinary colors were admirably splashed around in great boucle and smooth fabrics and sequins. They ranged from shades of deep gold-brown and ochre to sea foam green, royal or gray-teal blue, and the paprika reds and russets of fall, plus shades of bark and earth a la Cezanne.

In this rich offering, some might like the snakeskin outfits printed with red-black harlequin patterns, others will go for the superb stretch sheaths or the stretch sequined ``wonderbra″ dress.

And the grand finale of the top models, from Helena Christensen to Claudia Schiffer, looked fabulous with coppery-sequined tops over taffeta skirts with huge puffs below the waist and trains _ in luscious iridescent Cezanne-like shades.

Valentino loves to cater to the party set with his suave, ultra-feminine clothes. And there they were in the front row, the women who love to dress up: Joan Collins, socialites Nan Kempner, Susan Guttfreund and Veronica Hearst.

What they saw was perfection a la Valentino: the miles of black or ivory silk are sure winners in velvet, chiffon or lace. A sharp decollete here, a flounce there in Chantilly lace, a satin hip wrap elsewhere. All body-conscious with subtlety.

Here were the super models looking like elegance itself in anything from a fitted red or shocking pink wool suit with delicately flared or straight knee-length skirts to slinky bias-cut gowns for star glamour.

A palette of almond green, cyclamen, soft orchid pinks and violets ran right through to ball gowns in taffeta, feathery, sparkly stole effects.

Sexy? Sure. Much of it was in off-one-shoulder cocktail dresses with stiffened drapes at the side, or Theda Bara glamour in sandy satin with lace or shiny cut velvet.

Other little lace and embroidered fashions had short sleeves, flared skirts, giving an innocent, almost ingenue look.

At Carven’s house, the octogenarian Carmen Carven surveyed the collection by her chosen successor, Maguy Muzy, a Corsican-born designer in her forties.

``I’m fascinated by fashion still,″ said Carven, who is retired, but still owns part of her business and will celebrate her 50 years in fashion on Wednesday. ``But, I’d hate some of the modern extremes like indecent nudity,″ she said, impeccably clothed in her own flowered suit.

Muzy’s Carven started with awkward powder blue short suits with fringes. But things progressed to grand gowns, decollete under fitted bodices with striped taffeta skirts or perky quilted satin gowns with Dionysian grape and arbor themes on belled skirts, short in front, long in back.

The Jean-Louis Scherrer show was a rather rocky ride through belted satin or furred spaced-out space-suit styles to the somewhat sinister black Queen of the Night looks for evening, all designed by Bernard Perris.

Olivier Lapidus made no waves with his silhouettes, though he showed some nice, straight-forward trouser suits.

His pride was an homage to ``icon art,″ its printing and glazing techniques borrowed from Rumanian monks to achieve a glimmering gold or stained-glass effect on silk.

A new French designer to watch is Eric Dubrulle. This 30-year-old’s quiet first collection of couture and boutique clothes showed a professional approach, with classic lines and fine details, in elegant, easy-to-wear styles, now priced somewhat lower than the big names.

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