Vivienne Westwood showed one of her most wearable collections for seasons yesterday at the Grand Hotel in Paris. Queen Viv held court backstage after the show, seated on a chair while camera crews from around the world flocked about her for a few words of wisdom.
"I wanted to show that my clothes are wearable, to draw attention back to the clothes," said the designer, who has consistently been the high point of the Paris collections for the past few seasons.
Of course there were the inevitable chocolate-box 18th-century historical- drama ballgowns, in huge swathes of emerald green and iridescent blue, as well as one painted with huge crown-like multi-coloured spots. In the past, Westwood's idealised, overblown padded-hipped woman has stolen the limelight from the clothes. But for spring/summer '96 the message is that Westwood makes clothes for real women: tailored suits with boxy jackets and neat pencil skirts, shoes that looked positively sensible when compared with the designer's infamous elevator shoes that reached such impossible heights that Naomi Campbell fell off them, and even a jumpsuit, albeit buttoning under the crotch and printed in a delicate aubergine and white pattern that would seem at home on an 18th-century dinner service.
This is not to say that Westwood has lost her witty spirit. The show opened with the Scottish model Honor Fraser floating down the catwalk looking a little wan, a little faint and in need of a good dose of smelling salts, in her flouncy silk georgette night-dress.
n Hubert de Givenchy, the 68-year-old couturier who opened the House of Givenchy in 1952, made his second and last goodbye yesterday with a collection of all the classic pieces that have earned him the loyal following of his customers over the years.
His final bow was as low-key and well-mannered as his collections have always been; no hysteria, just a quiet and graceful wave goodbye.