PARIS — What this city needed all week was clothes that didn't take themselves too seriously. And Wednesday, in what is fast becoming a grand tradition here, Patrick Kelly's good-humor show closed the spring fashion scene with a witty poke at all the pomp and circumstance.
The Mississippi-born designer's raffia watermelon slices in bright red (complete with green rinds and black seeds) were shaped into hats, pins, earrings and the cups of bras.
His mermaid's slinky skirt was a sea of aqua sequins with nothing but seashells and strings on top. Buttons decorated the tops and bottoms of dresses, the inner and outer brims of hats.
And in among the sly delights were the kind of cool, clever clothes that people really do wear in the long, hot spring and summer.
The show was a mixture of swingy and tight, neutral and bright. Red bandanna-print tent dresses and slim, bright knits all had little tiers of fabric near the hems. Stretch denim for evening, in blue or gray, was shaped into strapless slim dresses or skirts that teamed with T-shirt tops made of shiny sequins sewn onto stretch chiffon.
A fuchsia satin jacket, shaped exactly like a trench coat, formed the perfect cover-up when belted over a matching stretch-satin strapless dress.
Hemlines were above the knee, but not at all-time highs. And the audience, which included Paloma Picasso, Warnaco company executive Linda Wachner, Maud Frizon, and representatives of most of the country's top stores, all applauded mightily.
Yves Saint Laurent's show, right before Kelly's, was another matter. The master designer trotted out every color in the rainbow, mixed them all up (sometimes on a single outfit) and enhanced them with clown collars, pointed hats and long gloves (sometimes one red and one blue). He used shiny gold to outline simple dark suits, huge shiny gold tassels on shoulders of dresses and suit jackets, shiny gold discs everywhere.
Classic in Every Way
One outfit included green ankle-length harem pants, a blue cummerbund, a mauve tank top and a purple jacket. The shaping, especially on suits, was classic in every way. Beautifully tailored jackets eased over wearably slim skirts. But at times it was hard to fathom where the Barnum & Bailey fantasy stopped and the real clothes began.
Saint Laurent gave the audience a clue at the end of his show, when men carrying huge letters on cards lined up on stage. The letters spelled out "Homage to David Hockney." A reporter later asked what this meant and was told the designer themed his collection to artist Hockney's series of circus paintings.
Emmanuel Ungaro's models sat on chairs to prove that indecent exposure is not a necessary risk when wearing the designer's super-short, super-snug clothes. Dazzling, torso-draped silk-and-leather outfits (in bright green, pink, yellow or blue) were among the shortest, most decorative shown in Paris.
Evening numbers were graced with little poufs of fabric in place of what one usually calls a skirt. Loose jackets for day and gauzy coats for evening floated above the otherwise body-hugging styles. Retailers from both coasts hailed the collection as "vintage Ungaro" and said the designer's horde of fans will snap it up.