A.F. Vandevorst decided to show their latest collection in a nineteenth century Salle de Spectacle near the Arc de Triomphe - quite a leap from the last few years spent showing in a disused car-park in the Marais. If this was a move uptown, it was reflected in the clothes, which had a glittering sense of ceremony (not least those requiring a red carpet) not often found in this design duo's oft-cerebral output.
Vandevorst and Filip Arickx may be making a bid for the mainstream, or at least the arty party frock market. How else to account for a very unintellectual display of sequins, beads and the golden chainmail much favoured by the late Gianni Versace on their catwalk for S/S 2011. But fear not, A.F. Vandevorst have neither lost their senses nor abandoned their roots: that glitter was burnished, sequins and beads distressed, and chainmail looped into short, tautly-draped dresses lying somewhere between twenties showgirl frocks and Crusades armour.
The former is, of course, an idea picked up by none less than Mrs Prada over in Milano, but An and Filip focused on the latter, sending out tailored jackets akin to doublets, pourpoints and cuirasses, dropping to a point in the front and buttoned up high to protect your flanks. Those looked great, and also worked when deconstructed into knit pieces like tailoring unravelled, the stuffing literally picked out. With clouds of smoke and marching warrior women, the comparisons to Jeanne d'Arc were inevitable (one model even carried a patriotic Vandevorst banner to charge into battle). Perhaps to underline that possible heroine, there were a few leather piece that looked slightly charred, a technique that worked on a signature leather trench like a subtle ombre, but made ivory trousers look plain mucky. And really, grimy grey trousers couldn't compete with delicious saffron-coloured silk licking around the body like a flaming pyre, or with that chainmail, twisted and looped about the figure, veiled with chiffon and whipped up into a stand-out all-in-one that fused Joan of Arc with Joan Collins. Hopefully A.F. Vandevorst take that as the genuine compliment it was intended to be.