Skydivers and cityscapes at Paris fashion week

PARIS, Emma Charlton- Designers took Paris from tropical forest to cityscape, from ocean shore to the open sky on Wednesday as Dries Van Noten and Felipe Oliveira Baptista headlined day two of the French capital's fashion week.
The Belgian Van Noten -- known to the in crowd simply as "Dries" -- won nods from a front row presided over by Vogue editor Anna Wintour for a ready-to-wear look built around landscape photographs and the bold, curled patterns of a toreador's bolero.

Steamy jungle vistas and night shots of cities from Thailand to the Middle East, shot by a young British photographer James Reeves, were printed on shift dresses, shirts, and bermuda pants cut in the designer's fluid, boyish style.
Straight and wide across the shoulders, slash-necked silk dresses hung pure and straight to the knee, making the models look light-footed and cool despite the sweltering Indian Summer heat pounding the French capital.
Embroidered toreador's jackets in white and black sat above forest-printed bermuda shorts in the same two-tone, or tapered black silk pants with a wavy, apron-like panel between the front pockets.
The same pants in navy were matched with a torero-patterned sleeveless pinafore top, that hugged the front of the body and left the back bare save for a few ribbon straps.
Van Noten's palette was black and white, with flashes of ochre, emerald green, petrol blue and bright yellow.
For evening he drew in more elements of classic Spanish design, with a black dress that wound tightly down around the thighs before spreading out wide from the knee to the floor like a folkloric skirt.
Felipe Oliveira Baptista, showcasing his own collection for Spring-Summer 2012 after a noted debut in New York as chief designer for Lacoste, looked up for inspiration, using a skydiver's suit as his blueprint.
Zippers defined his collection of ultra-fine parachute-silk-like dresses, tunics, jumpsuits and capes, running along seamlines, around sleeves and across pockets, opening V collars and splitting up and down backs.
Tan and pale tinted whites dominated, with contrasting blocks, panels and zippers in acid turquoise, pink and gold.
Outsized, hooded parachute capes hung in sweeping, asymmetric lines down to the floor, translucent over bare skin or mid-thigh leggings.
"I started with the word freedom," the Portuguese designer told AFP after the show. "You know it was a very inspiring year, a lot of things happened this year."
The skydiver motif came from his own background: he grew up seeing photos of his parents jumping in their youth.
"The dresses were really based on the idea of parachutes. The idea is that you can play around with them, that they can change, you have the freedom to live the way you want to live."
Had working at Lacoste changed the way he designs his own line? "Not really, it's just like before, but with more concentration. It's twice the amount of work."
Earlier the French house Guy Laroche brought a fresh ocean breeze to refresh a fashion crowd fanning themselves under a hot tent in the Tuileries gardens next to the Louvre museum.
The marine-themed line had skirt suits with double button rows running down the front, short A-line skirts in dark olive green or navy leather, and narrow bermuda shorts cut above the knee.
Dresses were fashioned from clingy jersey with sheer panels of silk mousseline, while one navy linen model was draped and pinned around to the side, with white stripes running down a bias-cut seam from shoulder to knee.
Thursday's line-up will put the spotlight on Balenciaga, Carven and Balmain, as well as the own-name line by India's Manish Arora, who has taken over as chief designer at Paco Rabanne after a five-year hiatus at the venerable house.

Wednesday, September 28th 2011
Emma Charlton

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