The one thing you can say about the Paris couture designers is they're consistent. Once one goes on a giddy swing, the others are right there behind him.
It makes sense, of course, that clothes should be special and festive for evening. In the couture collections shown in Paris this week, for daytime, everything is a bit more subdued.
Paris has always produced extravagant, splendid evening clothes for the private customer who wants something head-turning for her five-figure investment. Emanuel Ungaro has long led the pack in producing sexy, tight, colorful evening clothes. And Christian Lacroix, while designing for Jean Patou, and more recently on his own, has raised the extravagance factor, with bright colors in wonderful patterns and combinations, elaborate trimmings and fanciful accessories. This season is no exception.
Perhaps it was the prodding from Lacroix. But whatever the reason, this week Yves Saint Laurent produced a remarkable collection interweaving themes from many artists, particularly the cubists, into his collection. Cutout embroidered doves, not unlike the peace doves of Braque, perched on the shoulders of dresses and were used by Saint Laurent as applique's on dresses and jackets. Saint Laurent admitted after the show that he didn't care much for birds except in art.
Even with the rather quiet and wearable clothes for daytime, the hats shown with them were often extravagant. The popular rose theme that showed up in prints and applique's throughout the collections often carried over to hats.
If hats made headlines, so did hems. They apparently hovered close to the knee for day, inching up for the more daring evening wear. Christian Lacroix showed one-piece, flared short shorts with a laced-up bustier and lace poking out below.
But it was Karl Lagerfeld whose collection may have subtly signaled the biggest change in Paris fashion. His collection was far more subdued than all the others, and you couldn't miss the point that many of the hemlines landed below the knee.