>> Junya Watanabe explored contrasting silhouettes and concepts for Fall 2012. There were dandy short suits, tailored capes, and lots of modern-looking business wear (including a cropped, pleated trouser, which looked especially chic). Juxtaposing all that hardness were some lovely soft pieces; flowing dresses and romantic blouses in ditsy prints, flocked florals, or burnout velvets. Worn separately or together, they made for a collection that felt charmingly off-kilter.
>> Tsumori Chisato's whimsical aesthetic took a trip to Alpine Switzerland for Fall 2012. Sporty '70s colorblock decorated ski-ready separates — cape-sleeved sweaters, ankle-cropped pants — and snow-topped trees and even ski lifts made appearances in the form of large-scale prints on dresses and skirts. Despite the wintry reference, colors were light and airy — and so were the fabrics: sherbet-hued silks, whisper-thin chiffons, and drapey wools.
>> For Fall 2012, Yohji Yamamoto offered up something new: sexiness. It came in the form of body-con silhouettes, asymmetrical draping, and skin-exposing slits. Military jackets and a punched-up palette of primary hues provided a sense of sporty confidence, as did the combat boots and dip-dyed hair that accompanied each look.
>> Alber Elbaz celebrated his tenth year at Lanvin with an homage to all things glamorous — and all things Lanvin. It was colorful, sexy, confident, edgy — and them some. There were a handful of terrific coats cut in generous proportions; some were cinched at the waist with jaguar-head belts or draped in fur; all had rounded shoulders, exaggerated sleeves, and high collars. Otherwise, the collection consisted mostly of Elbaz's signature dresses. Those he cut in celebratory, curve-enhancing lines and embellished with layers of ruffles, sculptural peplums, lace appliqué, or glittering jewels. "I like dresses for night, I like afterparty more than party. I like the mystery; I like the dream, like fantasy dresses," Elbaz explained recently. There was plenty of fantasy here, but it felt plenty accessible, too. That, of course, is Elbaz's unique charm — the kind of charm that's made his 10 years at Lanvin worth celebrating. "I always say, 'If you can't eat it, it's not food, and if you can't wear it, it's not fashion, it is something else.'"
>> Trick-the-eye cuts — for example, capes with sewn-down sleeves that looked like classic overcoats, and skirts with split-fronts that made them look like tuxedo trousers — dominated Maison Martin Margiela's Fall 2012 outing. Silhouettes were generous, the palette was subdued, and the house's mannish tailoring was in full display. "The shapes and construction of each piece of clothing derives from a specific gesture: attitudes such as 'over the shoulder,' 'hands in pockets,' and 'stand-up collar' inspire new, oversize volumes," the show notes explained.
>> A pretty palette of apricot, peach, and red dominated April Crichton's Fall 2012 collection for Sonia Rykiel. Silhouettes were slim and high on the neck, with a few oversize coats and jackets to provide contrast. Knits — the house's signature — came in an intriguing mix of chunky ribs, '70s colorblock, and superfine slim-fits.
>> "I love the way they were wearing very masculine trousers to ride horses with lace shirts," Isabel Marant said of her inspiration — cowgirls of the late 1800s — for Fall 2012. The designer struck the same feminine vs. masculine balance here, working her inspiration into modern shapes just perfect for any It girl about town. There were satin tops with pearl buttons and flower-embroidered blouses, plus slouchy cropped trousers with fringe and heeled cowboy-style ankle booties. Classic Western shirts got reimagined, too; those came in pretty little minidresses or double-breasted bomber jackets.
>> Colorblock and cutouts: in Hussein Chalayan's hands, they felt modern, smart — and just right for Fall 2012. The designer worked with dazzling color combos — such as bright tomato with apricot or vivid lime and teal — for a enticing sense of depth. Silhouettes were oversize, geometric, and playful with cutouts and layering used throughout. Holographic leggings — paired with matching tennis shoes and a sporty wool blazer — looked surprisingly chic, as did a series of artfully-draped column gowns.
>> Roland Mouret debuted a sharply tailored collection of feminine separates — as well as a brand-new shoe line — for Fall 2012 today in Paris. Colors were unexpected — and felt fresh — in a palette of soft pastels and icy blues, while a selection of pieces splattered with mirrored reindeer prints looked especially appealing. As for the shoes, they came in six separate styles ranging from pumps to ankle boots, complete with heels in the shape of a letter "R."
>>With all the nonstop gossip and all the guessing games that have surrounded Dior as of late, it can be easy to forget what the label is supposed to be about. Thank goodness there is Bill Gaytten to remind us. Today in Paris, the designer — or "acting" creative director — offered up a Fall 2012 collection that felt refined, lovely, and classic Dior. Silhouettes were ballet-inspired and flowing, colors were modern and soothing, and — perhaps most importantly — there were countless pieces that one might actually love to wear.