'Dull' St Laurent keeps appeal for the purists

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The Independent Online
YVES St LAURENT presented his spring-summer collection in Paris yesterday to mixed reactions; some thought it was pure and undiluted Yves while others proclaimed it dull.

This season, there are more younger faces at St Laurent than usual, hoping to see the famous Yves le smoking and the spirit that has been the inspiration for numerous glossy Helmut Newtonesque magazine fashion shoots this summer. But they were disappointed. Le Smoking was there, and shiny, wide patent leather belts became a new must-have after the show, but the clothes were less glossy and more grown-up. Skirt lengths ranged from mid-thigh to a mid- calf that made even girls with never-ending legs look frumpy.

But for the fans, there were the great Yves moments too. The show opened with Nadja Auermann, the season's star model, wearing a pin-stripe suit, with broad square shoulders, nipped in waist and wide cropped trousers. A grey belted jacket worn with a knee-length skirt was both modern and wearable.

The long slim fit tunics, with matching trousers - flattering for most women -are a St Laurent standard. The collection was a pleasure for those in the audience looking for clothes to actually wear. At St Laurent there was a refreshing lack of historical costume references. These were real, contemporary clothes, although at times the colour palette took off into a world of its own. An electric blue blouse clashed with a bright scarlet short circular skirt, while lime green and lilac jostled for space on a single outfit.

The show's finale, like a firework display in chiffon, was a steady stream of floaty kimono dresses that took off where his couture show last July ended. Here the colour palette was well tuned, moving from white, to navy to dusty blue, turquoise, hot pink and emerald green.

At Valentino there was a similar finale. After a collection of cropped jackets and short shorts, Jessica Rabbit dresses with whole slices cut out of the sides and held together with delicate chiffon; after a series of shiny satin suits and skirts with pockets straight from army fatigue pants, and feather fronds poking out of headscarves and skirts, Valentino finished with a series of sari-style dresses. This time the colours were predictable -straight from the sugared almond sweetie jar.

(Photographs omitted)