Mar 7, 2010
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Masterclass from Viktor&Rolf

Mar 7, 2010

PARIS, March 6, 2010 (AFP) - Quirky Dutch design duo Viktor & Rolf held a masterclass in the art of dressing on Saturday 6 March, which was wildly applauded by the packed audience at their label's ready-to-wear show for next winter.

Photo: AFP/Patrick Kovarik

Instead of models sauntering down the catwalk one after the other, the first out onto the podium carried the burden, quite literally, of all that followed.

Their size-zero victim was totally dwarfed by her coat with gigantic fur collar, which looked as though it could have accommodated at least two more.

Disconcertingly alike in their sharp black suits and glasses, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren proceeded to peel off the layers like unscrewing a Russian matryoshka doll.

Models appeared from backstage, one by one, sometimes only in a lacy bodysuit, to wait patiently on a revolving stage while the pair zipped and unzipped, or fastidiously adjusted ties to turn discarded outer layers into entirely new, and often unexpected outfits, before heading down the runway.

Turned inside out a matt wool cape became a slinky satin bustier dress.

And when the original model herself was down to her undies, the pair reversed the process, undressing all the other girls to reclothe her. The final touch was the stiff bustle of an evening skirt which became a strangulating Elizabethan ruff.

At the end the designers formally shook hands in recognition of a job well done before disappearing back stage to thunderous applause.

Performance art, certainly, but also a deft demonstration of how clothes can be transformed by being worn in different ways.

At his show on Saturday (6 March) night Jean Paul Gaultier celebrated the ethnic and cultural diversity of France with his collection, which mixed and matched such diverse influences as North African, Chinese and Mexican.

Take, for example, his leather jacket over a Berber tunic jacket with pointed hood and billowing blue silk pants with Chinese motifs.

The point is, the designer emphasised back stage, that "Everything is all mixed up, tradition, roots, they are all muddled up. I'm not talking politics here. I'm influenced by life, travel, roots whether they are mine or not. We live in a time when everyone has ancestors from somewhere else and is affected by diverse influences, whether from books, cinema, food..."

Earlier Japan's Tsumori Chisato mixed black and white stripes with military frogging, gold rope and tassles for her eclectic winter collection, dominated by harem pants, catsuits, hooded capes and jackets.

Typical pairings were a sarouel in a patchwork of paisley print satin with a black velvet bolero encrusted with gold embroidery, and a short navy military cape topping devore velvet pants. There were witty touches, like the dinky dangling bags which matched the burgundy leather patch pockets of a camel coat.

At Cacharel, Belgian designer Cedric Charlier followed the label's tradition with a finale of retro 1950s tea dresses in Liberty style prints.

He also showed neat skirts suits and casual belted jackets in a mottled red and navy tweed, mulberry wool cardigans, and slithery satin scissor pleated mini and midi skirts in a blotchy print in combinations like poppy red and black.by Sarah Shard

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