Fall 2008 Runway Trend: Art Deco a la Minimalist

PARIS PRET-A-PORTER (PARISFASHION WEEK) FALL-WINTER 2008-2009

PARIS, March 14, 2008 /FR/ — Even to the connoisseur’s eye attending the runway shows at Paris Fashion Week, this last trend of the season is not as obvious as the previous ones mentioned here. To detect it a good knowledge of Costume history and 2Oth century design movements is required.

Let us go back to the beginning of the 20Th century, when a real revolution marked a turn in the world of design and art: Art Nouveau was creating new shapes in buildings, lamp shades, theatre costumes, and fashion illustrations. Then rather quickly Art Deco replaced the curves of Art Nouveau with its straight lines and its geometric embellishments (think for instance of the Chrysler building on New York City).

Well, in the field of fashion, Art Deco also had a big influence, but due to the flexibility of fabrics, its straight lines were less obvious than, for instance, in architecture. One fashion illustrator is considered the absolute representant of this movement in costume history, between Art Nouveau and Art Deco: I have named the famous Erté.

A real reference in fashion design and illustration, Erté has always been an inspiration for many a designer and for many seasons. For this coming Fall 2008 however, it seems that Paris-based fashion designers did get some inspiration from the fabulous illustrator.

Nevertheless, they have all decided to interpret this inspiration giving it a very contemporary twist. When Erté was nearly always drawing theatre costumes or spectacular evening dresses, they have for newt fall considerably lifted the hemline, most times, above the knee.

The second very important point is how they have seen their designs through the prism of minimalism. When Erté and Art Deco liked embellishments, they have resolutely looked at the purity of their lines and have avoided using various colours even when they were using different fabrics.

First designer to be mentioned here should be Martine Sitbon, who for her Rue du Mail brand, has created nearly entirely her 40 looks collection on this inspiration. The shape is inspired by Erté and the lines and embellishments on Art Deco motifs; her colour palette makes the entire collection very Fall 2008 though, in a collection which should encounter a real success.

Erté and Art Deco accents were also present on many runways, as if they had been sprinkled over the collections. The black asymmetrical dress by Alber Elbaz at Lanvin is obviously inspired on an Erté silhouette with its ample batwing sleeve, terminated at the wrist with a chic circle of matching fur around the wrist. The minimalist aspect is added by the house’s signature metallic zipper, cleverly paced here on the opposite side of the dress, under the arm, all the way down to the hemline.

At Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld has adapted in a very subtle manner the “U” line also seen on many riding coats, skirts and dresses throughout the Paris season. But only at Chanel has the designer dared to create a “U”line piece in the front and another longer “U” line in the same look.  As the “U” is wrapped around the body, it does reveal parts of the body in a pleasant game of hide and seek.

With his research of volume on the back, Giambattista Valli gave maybe the most beautiful dress in the season based on this inspiration: a cape dress, short and simple looking in the front with no sleeves but two homes “a la minimalist” I n the front and with a wonderful fox fur of matching red in the back to give amplitude and comfort to the “cape” of the dress. Stunningly modern, definitely Art Deco, luxuriously expressive.

Can fashion do anything more than repeat itself in an endless circular movement, could ask the philosopher.  Maybe, the fashionista would answer delicately, but don’t you think this sis more like an entirely new expression of a reminiscence coming from the past to create a really new posture?

JEAN PAUL CAUVIN

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