The shape of things to come: Bold cuts on show in paris

Mon, Mar 5, 2012, 00:00

THE MOST talked about show so far at the Paris Prêt a Porter hasn’t been Balenciaga, Dior, Lanvin or even Celine, but Haider Ackermann’s. His breathtaking collection in city hall over the weekend drew thunderous applause at the finale.

The 41-year old Colombian designer from Bogota who trained in Antwerp and interned with John Galliano in Paris launched his label in 2001.

Although he has made his name as a master colourist with bravura cutting skills, up to now many buyers have fought shy of the rather convoluted shapes and designs. With this more refined and commercial collection, they are fighting for his clothes.

The rigour of the outfits and the rich colour combinations gleaming with modernity put him in a class of his own.

Narrow bronze shantung trousers worn with a square sapphire blue jacket nailed the look as did a long biker coat swinging over a midi skirt cinched with an obi leather belt.

If the dagger points on a leather skirt looked sharp and aggressive, there was sophistication in boyish trouser suits and more gently draped dresses in grey or rose-gold silk.

Tailoring has been a strong trend throughout the week and the ever inventive Junya Watanabe put his own subversive spin on traditional British masculine attire for his winter collection.

Though fabrics were conventional, familiar elements like trench coats, pinstriped suits and Argyle sweaters were abstracted and distorted in playful ways. Though exquisitely executed they didn’t always convince. A fluttery spotted silk dress backed with a pinstriped sheath was clever, but caped overcoats with superfluous stitched sleeves strayed into pointless territory.

What are clothes but shapes stitched together? That was the question at Comme des Garcons at the Beaux Arts over the weekend. Its collection was presented in total silence that was more of a conceptual statement about dress, by founder Rei Kawakubo, than a winter fashion show.

A stiff, overblown red coat that opened the collection and similar cocooned shapes were like flat 2D paper dolls rather than 3D shapes for the human body.

As a way of expressing an idea, it was thoughtful and interesting, and the giant polka-dot crinolines that closed the show brought to mind the work of another visionary Japanese, the artist Yayoi Kusama and her dotty world.