Lacroix sews a stitch in time

CHRISTIAN LACROIX'S catwalk show took us on a whistle- stop tour of India, China, Russia and Guatemala; a Tardis trip back to the 18th century, the Belle Epoque and the 1970s; then led us into a Paris patisserie, piled high with cloying cream millefeuilles. The effect of 101 mismatches and multiple layers was too much to digest.

When Lacroix draws on his southern roots, his clothes are funny and delightful, as his huge bright heart prints used on swinging jackets, flared trousers and chirpy sundresses showed.

When he keeps things relatively simple, as in a long sand satin sheath dress with a big black chiffon bow on one shoulder, his evening wear has the kind of drama that works well on the competitive Paris catwalk. And a plain black linen wraparound day dress stood out among a riot of clashing colours, appliques and dangling, jangling jewels.

It seemed that this season, Lacroix, who is far better at unfettered and opulent haute couture than he is at ready-to-wear collections (which is what we are in town to see), was trying too hard to be all things to all people. Usually one can rely on a perfect little black dress among all his extravagance. But this time, it was ruched up like Austrian blind with ripcords attached.

(Photograph omitted)