This season Zac Posen decided to up sticks and show his signature line in Paris. It makes sense: he's been hammering away at his demi-couture fit-and-flare showstopper frocks and couture-alike curvy tailoring for a good decade now, and it stands to reason he'd be ready to compete with the big guns.
The move to Paris seems to have had a profound effect on Posen - or at least on his latest collection, which somehow managed to expound on every Anglo-American stereotype of French style. Posen in Paris was all about Les Folies Bergère and that seductive Gallic peekaboo: satin veiled in fragile lace, chiffon, corsetry, every form of lingerie dressing got a thorough working out in the chi-chi gilded salon of a Rue de Rivoli hotel. Ostrich fronds were a key motif, wafting from diaphanous wraps, sprouting from a swathed hip as a peplum detail, or even worked into a repeat-print on acres of billowing mousseline de soie.
That was a whole lot of French style for us to take in, and truth be told it could only come from the eye of a foreigner. Posen's take on Paris was supposed to epitomise the chic of the Forties Parisienne, but it ended up looking half Hollywood starlet, half Las Vegas showgirl. There was nothing subtle or seductive about his slap-and-tickle games, which would have raised a knowing smile of irony had they not so obviously been done with deadpan seriousness.
Truth be told, it would all have been very well and good, in the right time and place: Cher circa 1975 would have looked spectacular doing a boozy floozy sketch in some of those slit-to-the-cotch Strictly Come Dancing tango frocks. But, frankly, it struck a dud note in the S/S 2011 Paris season. This was evidently Posen's wholehearted stab at 'haute couture'. Alas, for a debut in the fashion capital of the world, it felt like a stab in the dark.