Whatever it is that's turning designers onto fifties couture for Autumn/Winter 2011, Zac Posen has caught on. Actually, he latched on to that feeling ten years ago when his career first began, and try as he might he's simply not able to shake his predilection for a fancy seam and a sleek dart.
They were very much in evidence at his second Paris show today. Posen stripped back the decoration that had marred his first offering, but instead indulged his passion for clever-clever tailoring. He scissored, stretched and stitched fabric to within an inch of its life, tucking its folds taut around the figure to hug every curve. Sometimes, as if to flaunt their sheer number, Posen inverted his seams, allowing the fraying allowance to form a kind of savage frill.
Try as he might to be minimal, Posen loves a bit of decoration - maybe that encouraged his urge to slice those suddenly-decorative seams like star-bursts across silk-satin frocks, or to cleave open raw reptile skin to cover the woollen base of pinched-in little jackets, adding a touch of the rough to their refinement. Those skins crept into Posen's signature cocktail dresses too - python meandered around the body in a narrow, knee-length sheath and alligator formed the bodice to a pleated chiffon frock that would have given Charlie James a run for his couture credentials.
Yes, Posen's collection was technically very crafty - but actually not particularly clever. Wasn't it Dior who said the best-made dress was that with the fewest seams? That's anathema to Posen: why use one seam when four and a splay of goddess can do the job much more prettily? The trouble with that amount of work in clothing is that it can all begin to hang heavy with effort - which was certainly the case today, dresses tugged drumskin-tight across the buttocks, sweaters intricately seamed and flattening feminine curves, models tottering ever-so-unsteadily on higher-than-high platform heels. It was pretty in parts, but it's nigh-on impossible to imagine modern women willingly trussing themselves up in such an overwhelmingly overworked fashion.