With bruised, blackened eyes, hair hanging in faces and a wardrobe of dark, brooding gothy horror frocks, this season feels like something of a Martine Sitbon moment. While her eponymous line may have ceased trading, its spirit very much lives on in her Rue du Mail collection - now in its seventh season, and continuing quick trade in her enduring mix of rock-chic and dreamy romanticism.
This season, Sitbon was once again preoccupied with folding, pleating and tucking fabric around the body. Indeed, it seems this is becoming a new trademark - this season, the sternum was the starting point as Sitbon creased, starched and stitched fabric origami-style from this central point. A trench came with pleats across the sleeve-head and a mini-cape falling in back, while puffed layers of down were softly trussed into curvaceous folds around the body, cinched with a heavy leather belt - there were plenty of those, to define a minute waist. Maybe it was that cinching at the torso, or all those curves, but there was a faint Victoriana feel to many of the waisted jackets, cut tight and short or jutting into a padded peplum, while baby-doll dresses had a fillip of frill at the waist or hip like a back-to-front bustle. Art Nouveau swirling prints were rendered in black on white or mauve and wrapped around the body in chiffon, and a series of sheath dresses were crafted from undulating fils coupe jacquard, reversed so the loose embroidered threads hung like fringe in jewel-shades of opal, amber and garnet. These were rare flashes of colour in a barely-there palette of nudes, lilacs, greys and charcoal-black - again, established codes of Sitbon's new label, chiming with the stripped-back shades of the Autumn/Winter season. Still, for all the fresh direction Sitbon has forged for Rue du Mail, best in show were golden oldies that could have been pulled from one of her early nineties collections: an abstract sequin-embellished long-sleeved chiffon t-shirt, and oversized man's blazer tightly belted at the waist, both thrown over her signature skinny cigarette trousers with a kink at the ankle. They looked as fresh, exciting and desirable as they did twenty years ago