PARIS — France's king of fashion and a jazzy American upstart presented collections Wednesday, ending eight days of summer ready-to-wear previews with bounce and plenty of sizzling colors.
Yves Saint Laurent presented a joyous circus full of colorful Pierette clown gowns. But he backed it solidly with well-tailored day clothes, in excellent fabrics like heavy cotton ottoman, soft suedes and cotton voiles.
Patrick Kelly--the only American designer here presenting a collection this week--gave fashion observers a foot-stomping show that mixed Harlem go-go with Paris chic.
Saint Laurent's finale featured a group of male models holding plaques in homage to the English figurative painter David Hockney.
"It was a tribute to his use of fresh colors and theater designs," said Saint Laurent, beaming after the show.
The gaiety in clowns, trapeze artists and ballerinas signaled a return to an exuberant spirit at Saint Laurent, whose recent collections often have been soberly downbeat. These amusing acrobatic clothes were even topped with "Merlin" hats, tall tubes of straw in bright colors.
One needn't buy every circus number, but a flounced collar and skirt here and there could perk up a wardrobe. The sharpest new Saint Laurent suit look would include a black skirt shortened to about 10 inches above the knee and a fitted white jacket--still with flattering shoulder padding to make the hips look lean.
Cocktail suits in gold lame and black suede or jewel-encrusted jackets with flower motifs would shine at a three-ring cocktail party.
As usual, Saint Laurent wound up the fashion week by giving his own "seal of approval" to things going on elsewhere, because he invented many of the ideas anyway.
He advocated short skirts to minis but also threw in several Bermuda shorts and even some long pants and long-john-tight thigh clingers as alternatives.
Saint Laurent showed a few stitched denim outfits, shorts and short skirts. But they were especially handsome in the menswear line, showing a whole masculine collection along with the show for women.
Also new were the draped "swimsuits" that looked more like abbreviated dresses than something for plunging in the pool. This Esther Williams approach, carried to an extreme at Ungaro, was barely a grace note at Saint Laurent, who has kept a cool approach to the antics of fashion, despite the harlequin influence in Wednesday's collection.
Patrick Kelly delighted an audience with his best clothes ever. A native of Vicksburg, Miss., Kelly has reached the big time in Paris.
A few years ago, Kelly was selling his handmade clothes decorated with buttons by draping them on fences at Saint-German-des-Pres. Now his clothes are to be manufactured by Warnaco, who makes Warner bras and White Stag.
This collection looked gloriously trendy with short skirts or shorts, longer ruffled models as a fine option for those who prefer not to wear minis.
Kelly's collection was perhaps stronger in day clothes than night, shown on Harlem sirens who slithered out like mermaids in their hot sequin outfits.
His denim and red bandanna outfits were irresistible--as Bermudas with knotted blouses, as ruffled dresses both short and long. His hats, earrings and handbags used watermelon designs as a recurring motif.