This season, it was the fabrics that did the heavy lifting: In addition to his usual animal prints, feathers and furs, there were rich, flower-strewn brocades shot with Lurex and gorgeous ikats made from silk fringe which pushed the collection into uncharted territory.
Strips of burnished silver lame served as frames, separating out the patchwork panels of brocades, fluttering silks and zebra-striped satin. The eyepopping patterns on the swingy, square-cut coats in silk shag evoked the wings of a particularly exotic specimen of butterfly.
Valli made a grand entrance into the exclusive club of Paris' haute couture purveyors last season, and Monday's ready-to-wear collection had a very couture spirit about it: You could feel the work and minute attention to detail that went into every look.
It was like a neglige chic Paris version of the Valli collection.
A-line dresses in crisp Liberty flower prints — given a sophisticated touch by strips of shimmering silver lame — were paired with fringed poncho-sweater hybrids in nubby oatmeal yard which looked like they'd been knit by granny. Boxy little dresses were made out of colorblocked panels, some printed with rosebuds, others with what appeared to be T-shirts that had been washed to the brink transparency.
It takes a special girl to pull off an outfit that looks like it was made out of grandma's old quilt, and Bruno's ability to take what would normally appear to be dowdy pieces and infuse them with a uniquely Parisian bourgeois bohemian chic has won her legions of fans in France and a growing number in abroad, too.
One of a several French retailers who are popular Stateside, Bruno opened a boutique in Los Angeles last year.
McCartney delivered a collection fit for sexy sleepwalkers that was full of relaxed chic pieces that looked like they'd been made from silk sleepwear.
Models wore abbreviated slip dresses, like little nighties, embellished with fancy arabesque embroidery and slouchy pajama pants suits in printed silks.
The collection was all about the prints — little crosses, dots, fancy wheel shapes and paisleys in navy and maroon — which McCartney wielded with a deft hand, sending out looks that mixed and matched clashing prints or unified head-to-toe outfits, where even the handbags and sunglasses were served up in the same patterns.
It was an appealing collection from McCartney, whose Beatle father, Sir Paul, as well as an A-list roster of top photographers — Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman — were on hand for the show.
It's always spring at Leonard, the Paris house that has been serving up variations on the same exuberant flower prints since its founding in 1958.
Sure, things vary slightly from season to season. For spring-summer 2012, designer Veronique Leroy added sprinkling of studs and sequins and graphic black stripes. But fortunately for the label's fans, the essence of the house remains largely unchanged.
All the Leonard staples were there: Pantsuits bloomed with oversized chrysanthemums, and floor-length sundresses were covered in wildflowers in bright red, blue and yellow. Besides the sequins, studs and stripes — which were worked into the flower prints — the other main novelty of the season were the wide shapes.
Swingy jackets stood sculptural out from the body, and a tunic shirt in flower-embellished terry cloth looked as if it had been made out of an extra-wide beach towel. It was hard to imagine that such bulky looks, which made even the rail-thin models look voluminous, could have much commercial appeal.
Those pieces aside, Monday's collection had the timeless beauty the house is built on.
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