Paris Fashion Week: delicate fabrics lighten spirits

After a day of dour blacks and greys, ruffles and chiffons brightened the mood at Paris Fashion Week.

With a clear blue sky and the sun glinting off Paris's landmarks, it seemed appropriate that a lighter mood would ensue Tuesday, after Monday's dour blacks and greys, and the collections of Giambattista Valli, Kenzo and Vanessa Bruno provided just that. After a viewing of the highly romantic new jewellery collection from Dior, Dior Rose, designed by Victoire de Castellane and a reminder of the delicate-hued chiffons and silks in the Dior showroom for autumn/winter, the pale and pretty ethos continued at Valli, where ovoid tailoring in radiant pale shades, densely ruffled surfaces on skirts and dresses and glittering monochrome beading channelled the decorous late 1950s style he is so well known for.

A move towards a 1960s A-line shape, though, with flashes of bright coral-orange, may indicate a new, simpler direction for the designer. Regardless, for a man who has been solo on the Paris schedule for just five years, Valli has garnered a devoted following, and this show will not disappoint his fans. A little later, back in the Tuileries tent, Antonio Marras at Kenzo engineered an explosion of florals, with maxidresses, smocks and oversized suits recalling the carefree pieces that made his predecessor and the label's founder, Kenzo Takada, famous - appropriate in the brand's 40th year. To a late-1960s soundtrack, ending with the Rolling Stones' classic Paint It Black, the ethos was that of a bohemian global traveller. Heritage tailoring fabrics such as pinstripes, houndstooth checks, thick knits and tweeds were cut into baggy jackets or tiny boleros and then panelled with a kaleidoscope of pattern and texture and styled with flowing frocks or high-waisted jumpsuits. Each model wore a classic blocked trilby, many carried big, squashy bags that will go down a storm in the stores. The only miss in the show was the shoes: big, suede platforms in beiges and browns. The models clumped down the catwalk and the result was, well, a touch orthopaedic.

At Vanessa Bruno's show, in the art deco Palais de Chaillot, at Trocadero the wind was so icy that no one stopped to gawp at the extraordinary view of the Eiffel Tower, just starting to glow in the sunset. The crowds huddled in and the photographers grumbled about the three flights of stairs up which they would have to haul their kit after the show, but they were rewarded with an almost summery collection, with fluttering silks, sheer knits and crepe chiffon in Bruno's habitual neutral shades of flesh and putty.

Delicate beading and pretty eau-de-nil chiffon prints for evening wear and complex constructions on deceptively simple shapes kept the attention for the first half, but it was a shame that the only real colour was the bright red on a couple of pieces, including a rigid leather coat. Still, most of these are pieces that will easily work in the warm UAE winter, and are therefore just as welcome as the more traditional autumn garb of thick knits and giant coats.