The seagulls and the ship horns that filled the Chalayan venue on a quai by the Seine this morning were somewhat misleading but nonetheless transporting. We weren't heading to the seaside (our destination was more alpine) but the mood was just as relaxed and mellow. Hussein Chalayan has been creating quietly brilliant collections for a while now but if today's turnout of bright young things in the front row means anything - Leigh Lezark was showing what a clever choice Chalayan would be for the red carpet - is that you don't need to shout to be heard.
The ease that characterised the opening two looks - a camel wool sleeveless coat dress with fur sleeves, cut low and worn over a pair of loose trousers alongside its fur twin, both with marching cloche hats - carried throughout the show as the Zen-like models languidly traversed the room. Chalayan showed a fantastic new jacket, cut loose on the body and with a slightly dropped shoulder, which featured an extra lapel layer peeking through. It looked great teamed with matching straight trousers or as a rounded coat. We've seen pleats galore this season but Chalayan's were softer, like on a steel grey knit tank dress worn, again, over trousers. We're also seeing quite a few cargo trousers and here, loose in black and paired with a folded top and some biker boots, they looked exactly as you'd want to wear them in, you know, real life. A flightsuit unzipped at the front to reveal a paint-splashed cheque pattern, while a very scenic mountain view print looked great on a sporty cowl-neck coat.
There's something so effortless about the way Chalayan design his eveningwear - how chic and easy did the link patterned strapless column of a dress look, the back left exposed, with its fur pockets-cum-hand warmers, over some sharp black trousers? And how refreshing would it be to see one of his finale follow-the-clues tapestry slip fringe-trimmed dresses or the gold sequin chainmail ones on someone with the wit to match?