PARIS — Kenzo Takada kicked off fall ready-to-wear shows here Wednesday evening, confirming that bright colors and a strong show of leg have hit the fashion scene full force.
Kenzo's opening tableau was all brilliant reds, pinks, yellows and greens shaped into outfits that often seemed patterned on ethnic costumes.
Although many of the skirts were long, with hemlines dipping into handkerchief points at the ankles, the major emphasis was definitely on legs (often in colorful, patterned tights) beneath very short coatdresses or miniskirts with softly executed jackets. In fact, Kenzo's jackets, coats and coatdresses--with narrow shoulders and graceful shapes that hung slightly away from the body--were the stars of the show.
Some jackets were short and shaped, but most were long and soft, often with simple fronts and tails dropping down in back. A long, nipped-waist, red plaid jacket with tails, for example, was shown with a soft, bubble miniskirt in dark gray above black-and-white plaid tights and black flat shoes.
A marigold-color, long blazer barely covered the matching knit minidress, worn with black tights and flats. Body-hugging fine-gauge sweaters were long enough to hit the thigh, where matching leggings took over. It was a young and joyous show, although it didn't add much to Kenzo's existing repertoire.
It was back to black, navy and beige on Thursday morning, when Rei Kawakubo showed for Comme des Garcons. The short-skirt look prevailed here too, especially short, divided skirts, which the designer seems to favor almost to the exclusion of everything else.
A World War I-inspired group featured Marlene Dietrich's cabaret songs as models marched in wearing bulky wool officers coats and jackets (all mini lengths or cropped just below the bosom). These featured all sorts of official touches, such as wide lapels and bellows pockets, along with such Kawakubo trademarks as one jacket edge dipping down lower than the other. A short-cropped version of the military jacket was worn over a waistless, accordion-pleated tent dress for an unusual--almost triangular--silhouette.
The designer's biggest color statement was blue and black, sometimes shown together. Shoulders were often swaddled and sloped with shawl-like collars, as in a black leather jacket with immense collar, which topped a short leather skirt that puffed out like a balloon and came to points instead of being rounded.
The finale of the show featured white blouses with dozens of divided leg bottoms, everything from short divided bubble skirts and divided skinny minis to leg-hugging Bermuda-length pants and traditional slacks.
Yohji Yamamoto's look at fall featured slim, navy mini-length coatdresses with elastic-back waistlines, mini coatdresses with fuller, flounced skirts, pea-soup-green peplum jackets over acid-green pantaloon-shape minis and long jackets over bubble skirts, the bottoms of which were pressed into angles rather than rounding off. It may all sound slightly wild, but it wasn't.
The designer's shaping and sense of proportion lent grace and dignity to even the most extreme styles. Here too, shawl collars were huge and sloping, shoulders were narrow, the look was often short and slim. A fine group of wide-sleeve navy coatdresses dropped straight from the cardigan necklines, narrowed to hug the hipline and had only a single row of bright red buttons to pep them up.
Yamamoto's most interesting jacket had a very wide, bias peplum that floated softly over a very short, romper-like bubble skirt. An evening version of this jacket, in navy, went over a gray iridescent-taffeta bubble skirt.
The bright spot here was a group of red, hot-pink and cerise coats, many with shawl collars and hemlines that dipped up or down in front or back.
Thierry Mugler's show seemed up-tight and out of touch. Very broad shoulders, waist-cinching belts and skirts that looked too skimpy for walking were the themes for coats and suits.
Some leather jackets, with wide, rounded shoulders might have looked fine if they were teamed with garments that had more fluid lines. But the point made in Milan, London and now with the Japanese in Paris seems to be that in fashion nowadays something has to give. And very little in Mugler's collection did.