Haider Ackermann's collection, shown in almost monastic silence, managed to make nothing new at all seem very exciting indeed. This was again his vision of a modern - even futuristic - nomadic woman, transcending boundaries of nationality, era and even gender with her clothing. The models had an odd air of Tilda Swinton, perhaps as Orlando in the meshing of male and female into a form of androgyny which managed to throw up a different slant on the old boy-girl shtick. The extremely attenuated angular silhouettes were emphasised by high shoes and severely pinned-back hair, but the layering of fabrics and touches of luxury in tautly draped meshes and wafting, almost aquatic ostrich feather fronds gave a distinctly delicate, feminine touch. And the fabrics were extraordinary - translucent films veiling otherwise opaque-wrapped forms.
Jean-Charles de Castelbajac's longevity has oft been dismissed as part of that particularly French affectation of revering as national icons that which pretty much the entire world has deemed irredeemably kitsch - in that respect he can perhaps be dubbed fashion's Johnny Halliday. Frankly, this is not without fair reason: his collection today was a classic romp through Castelbajac camp on a red-and-white minnie mouse polkadotted runway. Minnie herself made an appearance as a black-yoked red-bowed confection with comedy puffed sleeves, alonside gags like party hats, oversized sunglasses and a sequinned cigarillo (didn't really get that one, Jean). Unfortunately my decidedly dodgy camerawork didn't catch the riotous all-jiving disco dance finale, although the eye-popping colours give you the general gist. All very Castelbajac. Them again, when Giles is emblazoning sequinned shifts with Castelbajac-obean cartoon eyes and superstylist Katie Grand is heralding Minnie as a style icon, maybe his legacy should be reassed. Certainly the crush at the Carousel for his standing room only show and the opening of a London shop next month are ample indication of his enduring popularity, not just with the French. Carry On Castelbajac!
Two shows within 24 hours is a tough call for any designer: perhaps that is why Giambattista Valli chose to present his first Moncler Gamme Rouge collection as a series of artisan-inspired tableaux a way away from the maddening crowds of the Louvre in the 15 arondissement. The Moncler collection was closer to home when it came to Valli's designs: his puffas came in black, virgin white and rich, Goya-esque red, cut in taffeta, duchesse de soie and gazaar. Setting the collection in the Bourdelle museum and juxtaposing the clothes with statury underlined the sculptural qualities of the garments, which were memorable for the manner in which Valli interpreted his trademark dramatic shapes within the restrictions of Moncler's puffa product. If Valli's own label could be criticised for its lack of reality, the comparative success of his Moncler range was how Valli worked to make his unmistakeable touches of haute couture, his feathers, bows and furbelows, work in a luxe sportswear context. A beautiful, assured debut.
Visiting Boudicca is always a wonderful experience, not only for the intellect of the clothes but also the intellect of the company. Zoe Broach, one half of Boudicca, was on hand to guide us through both the ready-to-wear and Boudicca's exquisite couture pieces. Inspired by the image within an image, collages plastered the walls as inspiration while the garments explored ideas of sliced-away facades, fusion of disparate themes and images themselves. This was best demonstrated in their spectacular '3-D 2-D' print, where roses jut out from garments as flat images - witness this Penny pap-snap of me seeing this virtual decoupage first hand.
The title of Alexander McQueen's show turned out to be something of a misnomer: although a tree loomed large over proceedings, these were by no means clothes for bough-scrambling tomboys. The show was divided into two distinct sections, opening with ostensible daywear and what equated by and large to the commercial core of the collection. This focussed around the trademark taut tailoring so many women rely on from McQueen and which will no doubt be expanded exponentially in the showroom. Rendered in an inky palette of predominantly black along with a wonderful oversized mohairy tartan, McQueen showed his classic waisted suits with a fin-de-siecle spin: cutaway coats, curved frock revers and high white collar and cuffs gave a Wildean air, one tailcoat even coming replete with green carnation. It was mere infinitesimal adjustments to the skinny cut and proportion that kept the look modern, and that is a mark of McQueen's skill.
The ghost of haute Hollywood costumier Edith Head and her auteur set the scene at Galliano
I hoped for a full-out Galliano spectacular, and he's pulled out all the stops with a fully-fledged night-of-a-thousand-extras production number. The opium-hazed mise en scene is a thirties Hollywood epic of the de Mille variety, with yards of suspiciously gold ruched lame, a multitude of sets and the Galliano crew on hand to ham it up for all they're worth! It's already great, and he hasn't even shown a frock!
See what I mean about those gilded draperies? Metro Goldwyn Mayer to the max!