Certainly, this was true of Rodarte, where the almost cinematic sartorial fantasies of the sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy, which sometimes seemed overblown and undisciplined in New York, had a new rigor in the leafy, rose-strewn courtyard of a 17th-century cloister. It was as if the setting — romantic and historic and timeless as it was — took some of the pressure off the clothes, and allowed viewers to simply glory in the details of their twisted prettiness as opposed to drowning in it.
Sheer frocks in swiss dot and tulle had skirts cut by an asymmetric ruffle falling below the knee; cropped motorcycle leather jackets were studded in pearls, as were the matching low-slung motocross pants; and feather coats came in bird of paradise shades. Tea dresses bristled with three-dimensional posies of baby’s breath, and negligee gowns cut on the bias bloomed with embroidered poppy appliqués. To leaven the fragility, there were big metallic bow cuffs and leather stiletto boots. The Mulleavys may have taken flight to France, but they, and their clothes, are still grounded in the New World, just to the east of kitsch.
And the connection was true of Proenza Schouler, where the designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez cross-fertilized their past signatures (leather halters, peekaboo slicing, asymmetry, collage) with a certain French classicism, so that the basics of old couture — corsets and smoking jackets and intricate handwork — were knocked off their pedestals into the mosh pit.
They proceeded to shimmy and shake to their own easy tune. Oversize white jackets were given a nipped-in abstracted black waist and were paired with elongated slit skirts or flared lace trousers; skinny knits were tamped down by wrapped leather bra tops. Sleeveless sheer stretch jersey was layered over skirts composed of tiers of minute tulle ruffles, or dripped a single ruffle from neck to thigh. There were flapper dresses with seams picked out in hook-and-eye closures orbited by feather rings, and floral lace strung from tiny ribbon roses. They may have been complicated to make, but they looked slouchy.
Unfortunately, however, the connection was less true of the Dundas collection. Though Mr. Dundas said, backstage in a room piled with books, that he had come to Paris because it was where he learned fashion, and that he had his show in his friends’ home because it was “personal,” his first collection felt more like a greatest hits retread of his time at Cavalli and, before that, Pucci (and before that, Ungaro), than like a fresh start with a honed vision.
From sequin sweatshirt dresses splashed with a leaping panther to billowing caftan gowns, Lurex-embroidered silks cut long and flowing at the back and thigh-high at the front, faded denim mixed with leopard fur and fussy ruched taffeta or sheer cocktail frocks trailing long neon bright bows at the back, he’s been here before.