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PFW: Avant-garde alive and well in Paris

March 9, 2009 | 12:50 pm

Viktor & Rolf fall 2009 paris fashion week

PARIS -- It's always interesting when fashion deals with the idea of permanence, which is so antithetical to the whole 'here today, gone tomorrow' enterprise. But that's exactly what Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren did with their provocative Viktor & Rolf collection Monday with a visual pun on the overused term "classic."

Against a backdrop of classic marble statuary, they sent out clothes in all shades of stone, with details that mimicked the draping and pleating on the marble figures. They started with skirts and coats molded and folded into stalagmite-like points, before moving into soft silk and lace draped or seamed to evoke similar sculptural features.

Hussein Chalayan's fall 2009 paris fashion week Hussein Chalayan's "Earthbound" show, left, had a similar theme, starting with bonded nylon foam jackets and dresses that resembled the craggy faces of rocks, yet somehow managed to be sexy in fit. Really.

The motif continued with brick and soil print silk dresses and windbreakers. Some of the prints looked as though they could have been taken from Google satellite maps. It was fascinating to look at, especially in a time like this, when nobody is feeling grounded.

A model wears a creation by Japanese fashion designer Junya Watanabe for his Autumn-Winter 2009-2010 Paris Fashion Week show

Junya Watanabe, expanded on the puffer coat idea he showed a few years back, shaping soft, down quilting into cocooning shrugs and long dresses that flared at the hems, shown at right. On some pieces, he offset that softness with thick, gold chain trim, bringing to mind the dual roles of fashion as a blanket of security and a blanket of burden.

Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto's fall 2009 paris fashion week show At left, coats were the canvas for Yohji Yamamoto, too--feminine and sculptural with floating pleated panels, shadowy white markings or artful sprays of blue and red paint. Nothing too tricky. Yamamoto has collaborated with Ferragamo on a shoe line for fall, and the slip-on booties in neon brights looked very cool.

A model wears a creation by U.S. fashion designer Rick Owens as part of his Fall-Winter 2009-2010 Paris Fashion Week show



At right, Rick Owens reinvented his signature funnel-neck, asymmetrical  leather jackets simply by changing the palette from black to white, and putting feather halos on his models. In that new light, his clothes were more accessible and his women more like angels than villains.

A model presents a creation by Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons during his Autumn-Winter 2009-2010 Paris Fashion Week show At Comme des Garcons, left, each model's face was wrapped in a piece of tulle with a glittery red lip print off to one side, as if it were a parting kiss.

The label's designer Rei Kawakubo started with the idea of an Army jacket, deconstructed and spliced it with swatches of plaid or checked blankets. Childlike, white trompe l'oeil drawings of cargo pockets on some pieces, and the white outlines of toes on the tops of black oxford shoes, were like imprints of a missing person.

By the end of the show, when "Mad World" was playing on the soundtrack, the clothes really had the imagination spinning. Double-layer tulle dresses were lovely, and melancholy, too, with pearls and bits of tulle trapped inside like fading memories.

-- Booth Moore

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All the Rage's Paris Fashion Week coverage

Paris Fashion Week review: Christophe Decarnin's Balmain show flashes back to Michael Jackson, MC Hammer

Get more Paris updates: Follow Booth on Twitter

Photos from top: Viktor & Rolf, Michel Euler / Associated Press; Hussein Chalayan, Francois Guillot / AFP/ Getty Images; Junya Watanabe; Michel Euler / Associated Press; Yohji Yamamoto, Thibault Camus / Associated Press; Rick Owens, Christophe Ena / Associated Press; Comme des Garcons, Francois Guillot / AFP/ Getty Images.

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