By JESSICA MICHAULT
PARIS — At the RM show, the designer Roland Mouret stayed the course with a collection of sporty pieces spruced up with a well placed tuck, fold or drape. The clothing was decidedly body conscious, with slim stirrup pants, short skirts and slinky jersey dresses as the staples of the show.
The inclusion of drape-front vests, cowlneck tops and loose fabric billowing from the back of sheath dresses helped to give the clothing a sense of movement and femininity. There was even a girly touch or two with the Red Riding Hoodies and the black ribbons gathering up gowns in bows at the back.
But what really stood out in this collection was the smart way that Mr. Mouret mixed his textiles — melding onto a stretch wool jacket a pair of slim leather sleeves pleated at the shoulder and topped off with a velvet hood, or crafting a skirt out of panels of black crepe, felt and velvet.
The designer also showed that he was willing to move out of his comfort zone a bit with a trio of traffic-stopping black numbers covered in shimmering scales of blue sequins that fanned out in whorls across their fronts. The overall effect was a designer staying true to his vision but not being blinded by it.
When designers say before a show that the key elements to their collection are blackboards and cardboard, a frisson of apprehension (and intrigue) is almost guaranteed.
But these were the building blocks on which the husband and wife design team of Filip Arickx and An Vandevorst constructed their autumn/winter 2010 line for AF Vandevorst.
Perhaps it was thinking about these basic items that kept the designers more focused than in the recent past on their signature styles of mixing structured pieces with flowing materials. The 32 looks — an oversized digital display counting each outfit was the show’s backdrop — came out in a series of color blocks; beige, then black, a bit of auburn and then back to black for the finale.
The catch-and-release sensibility of the collection that used jackets and skirts, riveted together from stiff fabric, triple-wide leather belts and articulated over-the-knee boots as counterpoint to the fluid pants and draped dresses was beautifully done. The chunky knitwear with oversized cowl necks looked warm and inviting while the rivet-edged trench coat was a smart update on the style.
And what about those blackboards and the cardboard? The vests made of corrugated cardboard will sell better once they have been transformed into corduroy for the stores, while the blackboard-colored dresses covered in a print of abstract mathematical calculations scribbled in white chalk were both clever and inventive, as were the “chalk” pinstripe pieces.
The only real misstep in this show came from the styling and the Hannibal Lecter-style face harnesses that seemed not only out of place but decidedly distracting.
The young Croatian-born German designer Damir Doma seems to be on a roll. Only 29, he already has a growing fan base for his four-year-old menswear business, has opened his first store in the Marais neighborhood of Paris and can claim Lenny Kravitz and Robert Pattinson as part of his clientele.
Now he has the added the title of women’s wear designer and, not surprisingly, the designer chose to distill his hallmark menswear looks onto the female form — although it would be difficult to spot any womanly curves on the catwalk within the cocooning cuts of the clothing.
The models, wearing Harry Potter spectacles or flat brimmed hats, walked down the extra-long runway in oversized coats that encircled the body, baggy jersey drop crotch pants and gossamer tops and shirt dresses that resembled a man’s undershirt.
The androgynous collection was distinctive in a season filled with hourglass shapes and ultrafeminine fare and proved to be a strong debut for the designer.