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Style & Culture | SPRING 2006 COLLECTIONS

Clothes that figure to click

There seems something for almost every woman among a spectrum of ideas shared in Paris.

October 10, 2005|Booth Moore | Times Staff Writer

Paris — WITH an overgrown computer terminal at the top of the runway at Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld answered the question of why it's been so difficult to define the spring fashion season.

Capturing the mood that has gripped the runways over the past few weeks and, indeed, the past few years, he suggested that fashion today surfs decades, muses and cultures with the speed of an Internet search. So the sum of a season is not a handful of must-have trends but a whole universe of ideas for women to "click" on.

Aside from the tool box of Chanel signatures Lagerfeld always dips into, the most obvious touchstone for this collection was James Dean (2005 is the 50th anniversary of the actor's death). Lagerfeld continued to push his idea of androgynous dressing by putting men and women on the runway together. Male models with Dean pompadours wore blue jeans, white T-shirts and boucle biker jackets edged in delicate silver chains, or leggings and long cardigans with chain belts, all of which would look just as well on the women's side of a Chanel store. But no man belongs in boucle, and one imagines the rebel without a cause rolling over in his grave at the suggestion.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday December 01, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 36 words Type of Material: Correction
Fashion designer -- A fashion review in the Oct. 10 Calendar section from the spring 2006 runway collections in Paris referred to Celine designer and creative director Ivana Omazic as a Ukrainian designer. She is Croatian.

The advent of the digital age was also among the mishmash of references. A raspberry plaid jacket with zipper side pockets, when paired with a lively print T-shirt, seemed relaxed and modern, but the 1980s-era lace bike shorts and leggings that turned up under long tuxedo jackets and crocheted sweater coats were probably best left in the past.

A better proposition were skinny Bermuda shorts in denim with salt 'n' pepper tweed trim or lemon-yellow boucle with a subtle floral imprint and fringe at the bottom. The seams of a yellow boucle jacket were traced in purple and red, and a long chiffon shirt dress came in a linear print that echoed the Beaux Arts steel framework of the newly restored Grand Palais, where the show was held.

Cuff bracelets were decorated with alphabet cubes resembling computer keys that spelled out Chanel, hobo bags came in a patchwork of tweeds and prints, and shoes were stiletto-boot hybrids with open toes and fold-over cuffs, cinched around the ankle with laces. For evening, Lagerfeld returned to the 1950s, with poufy taffeta dresses covered in black camellia blooms. All said, the show was a lovely bouquet.

Perhaps it was the birth of her first child in February that prompted Stella McCartney to give up party-girl faddishness in favor of a more grown-up look. She offered lots of softly tailored suits that would look great on a young career woman, in shades of biscuit brown, dove gray and ocean blue. Jackets came in single- or double-breasted styles, and pants were cut full at the top, tapering to a stiletto-clad foot. The long sleeves on a pale blue-striped shirt dress were sliced open to reveal tanned shoulders, and a T-shirt chemise came in an understated gold and silver chain print.

Even the voluminous jackets and jumpsuits that have become McCartney signatures were more refined this season, without all the buckles and straps that have complicated things in the past.

Short, corseted dresses in black or sunset orange could move easily from day to night. But the real showstoppers were long, billowy chiffon gowns inspired by artist Jeff Koons, who sat in the front row. The prints were inspired by his paintings "Lips," "Streams" and "Pink Bow." Koons' iconic "Rabbit" sculpture was scaled down and reinterpreted into pendants for necklaces and charms for bracelets and, no doubt, inspired the silver foil bags worn across the body too.

He's made his models walk through water, act as pawns in a human chess game, and cavort with live wolves. But this season, Alexander McQueen showed women nothing but love, casting them as Greek goddesses. Of course, in his hands, the clothes were anything but classical. A draped white jersey gown cut low in front, with a mess of skinny gold chains covering the breasts, and a super-short cocktail sheath wrapped in gold mesh ribbons were sexy and inventive enough for the red carpet. Less realistic perhaps were thigh-skimming skirts with silver lame knife pleats or swinging crystal fringe, worn with gladiator sandals, arm cuffs and wide belts. Costumey? Sure, but really, what woman doesn't fantasize about dressing like Wonder Woman?

More than just selling esoteric ideas, this season McQueen appeared to be committed to selling clothes. His severe tailoring was softened with real women and real life in mind, which explains the series of dressy black separates worn with black opaque stockings that opened the show. An hourglass-shaped jacket sliced open in front topped a ruffle-hem miniskirt. And a cropped tux jacket with buttoned satin lapels was worn with cuffed satin shorts for an updated version of "le smoking."

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