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Couture for Winter with Exoticism, Artistry

July 23, 1990

PARIS (AP) _ Shorter skirts than ever and plenty of lush fabrics appear to be the main themes for next winter’s lines of haute couture.

Christian Lacroix opened a week of fashion shows Sunday with a stunning display of exotica and opulent fabrics, refining his line with some superb jackets and trapeze coats, fur-trimmed velvet and gilded brocade.

A gold-shot raspberry tweed suit with bold rhinestone buttons seemed to please Ivana Trump, who is staying at the famed Ritz hotel. She beamed througout Lacroix’s show.

Like the other main houses, Lacroix is ready to lengthen the short styles on the runway for a rich client who decides $10,000 is too much for a bathing- suit length cocktail dress.

The cheery designer from southern France looked somewhat pale as he took a bow to enthusiastic applause. But after two back operations several months ago, and a lawsuit brought by his former employer Patou, he says he’s still in fine shape.

The Lacroix exuberance occasionally flounces out in too many details, such as layer on layer of lace, or yet another bustle, but most of his fitted clothes were splendid.

So were the adornments - sparkly buttons, sable cuffs, detailed embroidery and heavy-metal jeweling straight from Byzantium. Even boots were jeweled, giving the slightly 1960s silhouettes new lavishness.

″I get my inspiration from all over,″ said Lacroix.

Another dream world for rich fashion devotees was turned out by Hanae Mori. The Japanese couturiere, who won the Legion of Honor last year, also is the only Japanese officially accepted as a member of the French haute couture group, the Chambre Syndicale.

Mori was awarded a delicate white rose in her name at the Parc de Bagatelle a few weeks ago. The French have honored many famous women, including Barbara Bush, by naming a rose after them.

At her show, Mori concentrated on exquisite drapes and flowers as a theme for her dressier clothes. Her rose-fastened satin gowns with draping and sparkling embroidery were luscious for debutantes or women a bit older.

Mori did some wonderful short suits in smooth wools, easily-fitted with flaring long peplum jackets, and luxuriant short cashmere or smooth-wool capes in colors raspberry or mustard.

But her show-stoppers were the slithery sequined gowns embroidered to look like Van Gogh paintings, with all the swirls and cypresses right out of the Arles masterpieces.

Meanwhile, Italian Gianni Versace threw a splashy party in the Ritz gardens Saturday night following his show. The guest of honor was Sylvester Stallone.

The big idea was an array of print mixes and sparkly embroidery - in the shortest outfits possible.

His dots, checks and 1960s-style graphics for the sheer fun of it drew kudos. And he showed some new pleated and draped looks he says were inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings.

Among the sprouting new talent, Dutch-born Paul B. Elsen, 27, gave a promising offering of truly couture-finished styles. He reportedly sewed all 32 garments himself.

His long fitted redingote-style jackets with their jaunty riders’ top hats were well made, as were some of the terrific pants suits, often with an interesting bolero flared with sharp pleats at the back.

To amuse the jaded fashion crowd and launch a new watch collection called ″Mademoiselle,″ the Chanel company is opening up the Chanel suite at the Ritz for the week. The rooms are reconstituted exactly as when Coco Chanel lived there before World War II.