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Feathers and Frills

The Paris Fall/Winter Haute Couture shows flaunted a panoply of wildly different designer looks for 2011/2012. At Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld stuck mostly to black and white, from tweedy peplum suits to fish-scale-beaded sheaths. Giorgio Armani took basic black through a dreamlike Japanese garden, with brilliant floral prints, obi sashes and slashes of satin in hot persimmon and pink. Elie Saab wafted in with his luscious, signature red-carpet gowns stardusted with spangles and crystal beads. Dior, still without a name designer, reveled in confetti colors, pinwheel pleats and mixed-bag shapes of every sort. Black velvet shared the simple, elegant silhouettes at Valentino with white chiffon, gold lace and silver brocade. And Jean-Paul Gaultier—adding menswear to his couture runway for the first time—plugged his new perfume Kokorico (cocorico is French for cock-a-doodle-doo) by playing with plumage of every kind and hue: peeking out like a petticoat under a full suit skirt, a peplum on a pantsuit, an extravagant jacket collar, a turtleneck sweater—with a multicolored Scandinavian-pattern yoke—made entirely of plumes. Gaultier led the way, but feathers were a major focus everywhere, along with frills, flounces, flowers and frou-frou.

Originally published in the September 2011 issue of France Today

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