This season, KCD's London press day was an odd bolt of transatlantic decadence, with Marc Jacob's Danceteria-inspired outburst of eighties excess, Christophe Decarnin's blast of luxe lunacy chez Balmain and the commercial crumbs of Olivier Theysken's swansong for the beleagured house of Nina Ricci. While the opinions of many clashed over Theysken's final show, the towering platforms he offered - with heels either sadistically sliced away or dangling uselessly several inches above the floor - grab your attention with the same urgency as teetering models grabbing their minders upon exiting the Ricci catwalk. Those stout platform boots with hanging heel were much in evidence at the Ricci press day - alongside their commercial counterparts. You may well ask how you commercialise magenta glitter-encrusted heelless shoes seaguing seamlessly into black satin loon-pants? Well, Nina Ricci forgot about the trousers altogether (so last season), sliced off the platform and dusted off most of the glitter, leaving a chunky lip of purple sparkle outlining laces and foot-opening. Very dark and intense, albeit somewhat lacking in the delicate femininity Theyskens has made his own. That, however, was arguably present in a pair of butter-soft suede boots with crystal heels embellished with the Lalique lovebird stopper gracing many a bottle of L'Air Du Temps. Accessories vs. perfume: the battle of the cash cows?
Whereas Nina Ricci's shoes defied gravity, Christophe Decarnin's wares for Balmain continue to defy logic - economic logic, at least. Crusted with crystal and with shoulders pointing skywards like many a glittering, recently-emptied City skyscraper, Decarnin's wares were emphatic, dramatic and attention grabbing. With Balmain, for me, part of the fun is imagining just how much a super-worked, supershort piece of postmodern pulling clobber is going to set you back. In the case of the brief kidskin frocks - quilted and chain-wrapped to the hilt and giving Kaiser Karl's nudge-nudge wink-wink early nineties vulgarity a run for it's loadsa-money - the sky really is the limit. I'm guessing we may keep it in the four figures for the bolero jacket with crystal leopard lapels. As for the ruffled black leather frock with single bedazzled net sleeve? I'd rather not know.
Marc Jacob's collection continues the cathartic devil-may-care approach to financial restraint - but in contrast to Decarnin and Theysken's respective odes to Versace and Montana, Jacobs was very much part of the fashionable elite of the decade that taste forgot. Thus, perhaps, the reason his ode seemed so much more heartfelt - not least his homage to the late Stephen Sprouse in think silk crepe de chine dresses, tights and scarves thickly-patterned with swirling designs in eye-popping cobalt, lime, saffron yellow and shocking pink - the self-same shades extended to Jacob's trademark quilted handbags. Sometimes the taste quota was questionable (take a silk-faille anorak-dress, puffed at the hips, mink-trimmed and pock-marked with flock polka-dots), but the sense of fun, frivolity and - dare we say it - optimism, were infectious.