by Alexander Fury .

Rue du Mail by Martine Sitbon

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The deep, smoky eyes we saw backstage set the scene for Martine Sitbon's Rue de Mail collection, which was a dark but by no means sombre affair. Each outfit was silhouetted by light as it emerged onto the runway, the shadows emphasising the graphic qualities of solid A-line coats and floating, diaphanous chiffon panels. The mood was a darkly romantic take on sixties revival art nouveau, it seemed. What that scrabble of words equates to is easy, wearable shift dresses with dramatic applique details, cruciform seaming and flyaway panes of silk. Throughout, the clothes had a slouchy elegance: the silks and satins seemed washed to dull their lustre, and when paillettes were used to add interest to otherwise severe dresses and coats, their glisten was dark and subtle. The colour palette, like the applique designs, drew on the art nouveau staple of the peacock feather for inspiration: an interlocking colour scheme of pewter, emerald, teal and amythyst dominated, Sitbon's skill being such that, remarkably, almost no black appeared. Devore tunics in jewel-like ombre shades, starkly unadorned or veiled with simple cocooning coats in cellophane-like synthetic organza made a striking finale to a show where the crowd's roar of approval really needed no explanation.