Don't let the refinement of Martine Sitbon's Rue du Mail fool you - salon-style presentation and embossed invites aside, she's a punk at heart, amply proven by her latest S/S 2011 collection.
Think distress - in fact, make that elegant distress, as Sitbon has a fine hand with a deconstructed detail. For spring, she went to work shredding her filmy frocks, tattering tulle and hand-whipping the hems of crackly silk-chiffons. Wafting fronds of thread fringe, like slit embroidery or reversed brocade, were crafted into coats and dress part flapper, part faux-fur, while lengths of silk ribbon were painstakingly knitted into shredded dresses that barely contained the figure. Everything seemed on the brink of disintegration, barely held together, fragile and ready to dissipate, and it made compelling viewing. Best of the bunch were those ribbon dresses, and the opening series of tulle slips appliqued with distressed tatters of fabric to resemble something halfway between pleated layers and shredded rags.
Towards the end, Sitbon got a little too enamoured of wrapping her silhouettes in neon-bright tulle, and of ruffling up those distressed layers. When the two combined, it looked bizarre: one dress seemed to have a amoebal bustle stuck to the crotch veiled in day-glo yellow netting, while the finale of parachute silk shifts distended with crazed hooped frills and furbelows was just distracting. But Sitbon's light-as-air dresses were bang-on - as was her always superb tailoring, this time sleeveless, lightly deconstructed blazers and safari jackets. The standout, however, was the simplest: a full-skirted silk-taffeta trench with knee-length culottes, as elegant as anything from the eighteenth century. Alas, it didn't elicit a round of applause - every single person present was too busy noting it down for future purchasing. That's the noise every designer really want to hear.