Dedicated followers of fashion dress down

NEVER MIND the fashion shows. At the ready-to-wear collections in Paris, the audience (see left) is the thing, writes Roger Tredre. The shows present fantasy visions displayed on models with unnaturally long legs and slim waists. The women in the audience come in all shapes and sizes.

Everyone is dressing down this season. Sharp shoulders and power suits have long gone. The short skirt and the structured jacket look out of place; anachronisms from the 1980s.

The 1980s is not merely history, but ancient history. Mind you, so is last winter. 'Grunge?' Sarajane Hoare, editor-at-large of Harper's Bazaar, said: 'I can't understand why you're asking me about that. It happened ages ago, last November.'

The grunge look - the mix-and-match, dressed down, nouveau pauvre style, based on Camden Market's chic, but given a name by rock musicians in Seattle, is having a longer life than anyone expected. Stir in some touches of 1970s retro-styling and the resulting mix is potent. At the more avant-garde fashion shows, the journalists and buyers in the front rows still hide behind dark glasses and blank smiles, but their clothes are noticeably more casual: long dresses, leather jackets, suede waistcoats, fringed long cardigans, T-shirts, even blue jeans.

(Photographs omitted)