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Sun, Mar 15, 2009
Urban, The Straits Times
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Winter sparkle
by Noelle Loh

Right after the Christian Dior show last Friday, Sidney Toledano told Urban with a smile: 'The sun is shining.'

The 58-year-old president of the French fashion house was reflecting on its luxe fall/winter 2009 collection that defied these belt-tightening times.

The same could be said of Paris Fashion Week, which ended yesterday and has proven to be a bright spark amid the gloomy economy.

New York, the first major stop of the fall/winter 2009 fashion shows, saw major names pulling out from its main Bryant Park tent venue. In Milan, the second last leg of the industry event, the shows were described as 'lacklustre' by the media.

The City of Lights, however, was determined to shine with a sumptuous show.

As David Graham, fashion editor of Canadian daily The Toronto Star, reported: 'While the designers in other fashion capitals take into consideration (the) realities, in Paris they refuse to bow.'

There were up to 12 official shows a day at landmark venues such as the Lourve and the Jardin des Tuileries garden.

The giant paparazzi and fashion blogger crowd outside is a tell-tale sign that you have arrived.

We managed to get within inches of A-list stars such as American rapper Kanye West and South African actress Charlize Theron at the Yves Saint Laurent and Dior shows respectively.

However, getting there does not necessarily mean getting in, as we found out the hard way.

Without a ticket to the Comme des Garcons show last Saturday, we tried to gatecrash only to be told sternly by the bouncer: 'You can stand here (outside) all night.'

Here are some shows that we caught and loved.


In its white tent at the Jardin des Tuileries park, the French luxury house of Dior made it clear that the Dior woman is not one to be crippled in an enfeebled economy.

Designer John Galliano sent out 1920s-inspired coats made from lush fabrics such as cashmere and astrakhan fur in crimson, indigo and the signature Dior grey (top picture, right).

More sumptuous than over-the-top, the jackets bore hints of the Orient with rich brocade and pared down kimono-style sleeves - the first hints of winds from the exotic East that were to come.

There were also billowy silk harem pants, fur vests and floaty, sari-like dresses in jewel tones such as cornflower blue and golden yellow.

Save for the models' helmet-like bobs - held in place by bobby pins - it was a classic (read: safe) collection made aspirational by Galliano's light yet luxe touch, just right for the times.


Home-grown label alldressedup, which had a showroom presentation at the posh Hotel Bel Ami in the trendy Saint Germain area, explored an exotica closer to home.

This was the brand's fourth appearance at Paris Fashion Week.

Said Tina Tan-Leo, president of The Link Group which owns alldressedup: 'The buyers and press feedback here so far has been that we have captured the market sentiment and become a new alternative to international brands.'

For fall/winter, designer Sven Tan drew inspiration from the Peranakan kebaya top to come up with sheer silk blouses with scallop trims and, for a modern touch, balloon sleeves.

The brand's signature slouchy silhouettes made a comeback in jumpsuits, jodphurs and tees, updated with origami-like fold details and in nature-inspired shades such as brown (right) and orange.


The devil was in the details. The Spanish luxury label held its show - the first since designer

Stuart Vevers joined in 2008 - in a hall at the Paris Descartes University, also in the St Germain area.

Elegantly cut, the coats, suits and cocktail dresses could be studied up close in the intimate hall set up to resemble a chic Parisian cafe.

Vevers fused ribbons, sequins and beads with leather and broke apart woollen knits for a net effect on a top.

There were times when he seemed to have tried too hard - the perforated logo on the otherwise beautiful shirt-waist leather dresses was plain tacky.

It was hard, however, to fault the glossy leather trench coats, pencil skirts and pants that the show opened with, proving that Vevers should have stuck with what he knows best: quietly luxurious leather goods.

Yves Saint Laurent

YSL designer Stefano Pilati also went for understated chic at his show at the Palais de Tokyo art museum.

His signature softened, masculine silhouettes were updated with statement-making details such as a giant bow on a classic white shirt and triangular shoulders on a jacket.

There were also slick, wet-look leather jackets (top picture, left), skirts and even a zippered swimsuit with a dominatrix vibe, the sexual tension accentuated by the models' crimson lips - the only colour evident in a collection of monochrome and grey.

Bold, chic and sexy, the collection was the stuff a woman today should be made of.

This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times.

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