McCartney softens Eighties revival with dusty colours and eye for detail

By Susannah Frankel
Tuesday 11 March 2003 01:00
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If the curvaceous Eighties silhouette that has so far dominated the Paris season appeared a little too brash for understated taste, Stella McCartney's take on the era was more gentle. The designer's show, which opened the closing day of the collection, looked to the work of Azzedine Alaia for inspiration but always with a feminine touch that softened the overall effect.

Body-conscious skinny tops, close-fitting knee-length skirts and trousers so narrow they hugged the models' spike-heeled boots came in muted colours – dusty greens and plums – and with pretty details borrowed from lingerie. A cute idea was a rib-knit sweater with hook-and-eye fastenings down the front. Also lovely were satin corsets that stood away from a torso so very slightly that they never seemed constricting.

This was McCartney's most confident show for her own label since joining the Gucci group. While unlikely to alter the face of fashion, it will suit the McCartney client – a well-heeled west London girl who takes care to be cool.

Who is the Chanel customer? The label is making a concerted effort to draw in a younger crowd and this was clearly the thinking behind Karl Lagerfeld's autumn/winter collection. Certainly, few over the age of 30 are likely to be brave enough to wear the new suits: tight-fitting jackets and skirts so short they barely graze the thigh. These came first in a monochrome palette and later in more frivolous pastel tweeds with tufted collars, cuffs and hems. Far more conservative – and exceptionally beautiful – were the long narrow black coats that a woman of any age, but of considerable wealth, might like to wear.

Once again, Chanel's skiwear made an appearance – the ultimate off-piste status symbol. Lagerfeld, appearing to take his bows behind a shower of snow, only added to the high camp.

John Galliano's collection was startling in its simplicity. But such things are relative and in this designer's hands meant modern-day GI brides in cartoon colours with plastic eyebrows, glitter eyelids and large sequins where a beauty spot might be. Where Galliano would usually look to all four corners of the globe for inspiration, this time a visit to the Imperial War Museum seemed to be the order of the day: think Andrews Sisters on acid.

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