>> "It's about nonchalance and comfort," Peter Copping said of the dreamy '50s-tinged collection he presented today for Nina Ricci Fall 2012. The designer was inspired by the idea of a little girl playing dress-up, and so there was a haphazard glamour to the offering — party dresses and fur collars hung irreverently off the models' frames, sleeves were cut ultralong, and silhouettes were girlishly A-line, or just a tad oversize. Lace, tulle, embroidery, and ruffles provided a sense of naive charm, but the sultry palette of sheer black, garnet, blush, and cream was all lady.
>> Rick Owens offered up a softer side to his usual dark androgyny for Fall 2012. Sure, there was still a heavy dose of toughness — the show came complete with a backdrop of blazing fire and models in knit masks — but this season, there were also flowing silhouettes, nubby wools, and even a dash of color in the form of tan and peach.
>> At first glance — with all the feather-spiked hair and thigh-high leather — Ann Demeulemeester's Fall 2012 collection might appear to veer a little too far into hardcore territory. But dig a little deeper, look a little longer, and here's what you'll uncover: a graceful collection of artfully-draped separates and precisely-tailored jackets, all in a lush palette of black-on-black and indigo.
>> For his second season at Balmain, Olivier Rousteing combined the house's trademark androgynous edge with intricate Fabergé egg-inspired embellishment. The result was a strong collection that managed to look tough and lovely all at once. Pearl embellishment, floral embroidery, gold thread work, and intricate quilting gave an ornate flourish to Balmain classics like boxy tuxedo jackets, moto vests, cuffed leather pants, fitted military dresses, and slim-lined trousers.
>> Six seasons in and Guillaume Henry has etched out quite the niche at Carven. The quirky coquette charm continues for Fall 2012 with a whole new selection of pinafore dresses and Peter Pan blouses to covet. This time around, however, the signature pieces come covered in ecclesiastic references and Renaissance-inspired shapes. If all that sounds too serious, don't worry, it's not. The pinafore dresses are still short and swingy, it's just that now they come with fitted bodices, keyhole necklines, bell-shaped skirts, or hip-accentuating flares. Also worked into the offering: a gorgeous mix of color, pattern, and print. It came in the form of Hieronymus Bosch-inspired prints, stained-glass-inspired cutout motifs, fur colors, tapestry fabrics, and multihued blanket stripes. "It's playful, but not that strict. She has to be elegant and she can't be too girly. It's about contrasts," Henry explained.
>> The '80s disco space odyssey Nicolas Ghesquière embarked on for Pre-Fall reached full orbit today at the Fall 2012 Balenciaga show in Paris. This season, however, the electric hues, metallic leather, angular prints, shoulder-heavy silhouettes, and eclectic combinations were imbibed with a little corporate office fantasy. "We imagined this Balenciaga Inc. company and then we started to identify the functions the staff have and the clothes they would wear — the space-age sweatshirt girls were the spies infiltrating the company," the designer explained.
>> This season, Dries Van Noten took a trip to Asia — by way of the archives of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The scarf-like prints that dominated the collection were actually photo prints taken from the traditional garments of the museum's Far East collection.
To balance the exotic nature of the prints, Van Noten did exactly what Van Noten does best. That is, he kept the silhouettes wearable and and the styling relatable. Cropped coats, midi skirts, and high-neck blouses had an everyday ease about them, while fabrics — wool, tweed, silk — were luxe but practical. A smattering of gold embroidery in the form of cranes in flight looked particularly lovely as embellishment on the bust of a pinstriped blazer.
>> To a thudding bass and the raining-down of black rose petals — with Daphne Guinness and Michelle Harper sitting front row — Gareth Pugh presented a dramatically moody Fall 2012 collection in Paris today. Fringe, fur, and an overcast palette of black and gray dominated, but there was a restrained sense of balance at play as well: superfull fur skirts and sculpted-shoulder dresses contrasted with nipped waists or tight corset bodices in sleek black leather.
>> For Fall 2012, Nicola Formichetti revisited Thierry Mugler's "Insect" collection of the '90s. Silhouettes were sculptural with dramatic peplums, pronounced shoulders, and supersize kimono sleeves. A series of black-and-white cutout-and-fringe numbers offered a kind of intricate appeal, but it was the more subtle pieces — some belted coats in particular — that felt most enchanting.
>> Marcel Morongiu focused on a sort of understated sexiness for Fall 2012 Guy Laroche. Though the silhouettes were modest — high-neck blouses, below-the-knee skirts, slouchy pants — the fabrics were not; billowing charmeuse, whisper-light chiffon, and superslick leather all offered a sense of underlying sultriness. Combined with some strategic textural elements — against-the-grain sequins, chunky knits, and high-pile furs — it made for a very intriguing offering indeed. "It’s so easy to take everything off," Morongiu explained. “Being covered and sexy, now, that’s the tricky part."