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This season's pants: less denim, more sturdy trousers

Not since the 1990s has the fashion world been so enamored with trousers. Everyone from Hannah McGibbon at Chloé to Christophe Decarnin at Balmain to Patrick Robinson at the Gap emphasized pants this fall.

"It's a wardrobe essential for real women today," MacGibbon told Elle magazine of her penchant for pants, adding that her target customer isn't a 'fantasy' woman: "Women have demanding lifestyles."

Pants have long been regarded as a liberating garment, and jeans have always been top sellers season-round. But this fall, the emphasis is off denim and on sturdy trousers with a more grown-up, relaxed silhouette.

Riding on the trend, both mass market and high-fashion labels are marketing collections centered around the "perfect" pant. This past September, Gap rolled out its line of "Black Magic Pants," a collection in seven shapes and styles that promises to flatter every body type out there. Among the offerings is "The Perfect Trouser" ($59.50, or 45 euros), which Gap describes as: "A perfectly tailored silhouette gives way to a slightly flared leg."

And on December 15, Phoebe Philo, the creative director of the French house Céline, launched worldwide a collection of five pants she deems "building blocks" for every modern woman's wardrobe. Dubbed "Five Perfect Trousers," the styles include a cropped tube leg (370 euros, or $489), a classic tapered leg (420 euros, or $555), a high-waisted wide leg (570 euros, or $753), a menswear-inspired straight leg (590 euros, or $780), and a pleated tapered leg (440 euros, or $582). Each of the pants feature Philo's signature expert tailoring and channel Céline's minimalist chic aesthetic. According to the Wall Street Journal, the five-piece collection will be permanently available with slight changes in fabric and style according to the season.