x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Successes and failures: all in the details

Paris Lindsay Lohan makes a poor showing at Paris Fashion Week, while Dried Van Noten and Riccardo Tisci's collections are stunning.

The designer Riccardo Tisci's collection for Givenchy featured soft chiffon and pretty pastel minis.
The designer Riccardo Tisci's collection for Givenchy featured soft chiffon and pretty pastel minis.

Poor Lindsay Lohan. Has ever a nice word been said about the increasingly desperate actress and her adventures in fame? Certainly not for a long time, and her collaboration with the Spanish designer Estrella Archs at Emanuel Ungaro will gain her no new fans. It was, in fact, just the sort of collection one might expect Lohan or any of her other Hollywood compadres to create - all sugar-pink minidresses, bra tops and a big, saccharine heart motif. Mounir Moufarrige, the owner of Ungaro, is the man who replaced Karl Lagerfeld at Chloé with the barely-out-of-fashion-college Stella McCartney, so he has form when it comes to making maverick choices that work. Maybe he knows something about Lohan that we don't. Or perhaps he just struck lucky the first time around.

Luckily, things were a lot more accomplished over in the Place Vendôme, where the Belgian designer Dries Van Noten showed us how it should be done. In a return to his beloved ethnic prints and weaves, which were sourced from around the world, patterns were mixed and matched, colours thrown together to clash and complement and rich Mughal-style pearls were draped on top. But lest anyone think this was a culture-picking mishmash (it wasn't), the cult Belgian urban funk soundtrack Elle et Moi by Max Berlin told the audience that his was a very modern, European take on traditional craftsmanship.

Ikat weaves and batik prints were stitched into beautiful cropped and tapered trousers, short jackets, wraparound skirts and chic frocks. In a vintage Van Noten collection, it's not the overall look or the trends that grab you; it's the individual pieces that you covet, the research and devotion to his craft that you admire. And this was, indeed, a vintage Van Noten collection. Equally accomplished, if a world away in ethos, was Riccardo Tisci's effort at Givenchy. In a light-suffused hall at the Ecole Carnot, turned into a labyrinthine catwalk by some odd bench configurations, a strict monochrome palette played out for the first part of the collection, with beautifully reconstructed takes on tuxedo black and white, with striped peak-shouldered jackets, jumpsuits in black or white and collars picked out in the opposing colours. So far, so spring/summer 2010. Where Tisci lifted the collection, though, was in the extraordinary optic prints that covered little dresses, leggings and whole suits, with patterns wrapping around limbs, snaking across torsos and delineating lapels. When those patterns were reworked in dark khaki or pure self-patterned white, the fabrics were highly reminiscent of the dark green kaffiyehs and snowy white ghutras of the Gulf states. Strong looks, certainly, but things were softened for evening with lengths of soft chiffon gathered and draped across the body in pretty pastel minis, held at the shoulder with giant clusters of beading. A propensity for ruffles, too, resulted in dense wedges of frill circled around necklines and hems, and the delicate starched white lace dresses had a puritan innocence that made a startling contrast with those sinister prints.

The highbrow string quartets and refined construction of Givenchy gave way to a party atmosphere at Sonia Rykiel over on the Boulevard St Germain. The Left Bank setting - all glitter balls, glass and sparkling silver canapés - was a perfect foil for a classic Rykiel collection. The models danced out, up the stairs and around the mezzanine, shimmying to the disco music, waving at friends in the audience and generally playing up in a way that was a blessed relief after the solemnity of so many of the shows. They seemed as delighted to eschew their stroppy strut as the audience was to see it, and the infectiously happy mood, cheering and all, was almost enough to obscure the clothes.

But in true Rykiel style, the collection combined wit, daring and wearability, with a naughty Forties-meets-Studio-54 rakishness. Slender dresses and knitted skirt suits, lace and satin lingerie frocks, gartered stockings, cycling shorts and the requisite striped sailor tops were finished off with sequinned disclike berets perched upon clouds of curly hair. Rykiel can even make a simple black dress look cheeky, but with memorable colours like sunshine yellow, radiant coral, mint green, cornflower blue and lilac, the audience was left in no doubt that the designer was still in the mood for fun. As the final parade of models jumped around to Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough, it seemed as if the Rykiel party was just getting started.