Sep 28, 2008
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Life's all black and white for Gareth Pugh

Sep 28, 2008

PARIS, Sept 28, 2008 (AFP) - Life's choices are not usually black and white, but Gareth Pugh's vision for next summer was literally that on the first day of the ready-to-wear shows here on Saturday.

For his Paris debut, the British designer who is already much feted in London sent out an opening sequence of models sliced in half by his stark colour scheme, white in front and black behind, or vice versa.

Their necks were swamped by outsize pleated Elizabethan ruffs, as big as lifebelts, some of which continued down their fronts to form doublets, over pencil pants, slim shifts or gored skirts.

His designs looked like origami paper sculptures brought to life or suits of armour, with pointed breastplates hiding the models' faces and inverted cones over the shoulders.

Whether vinyl, plastic, leather or satin, his palette was rigorously black and white, as were the models' chunky platform shoes, with toes and heel as if cut down the middle.

His much-applauded show was crowded out even though much of the international contingent of press and buyers will not arrive until Monday when John Galliano unveils his collection for Christian Dior.

Egyptian designer Marie Bushara, the first from her country to ever show in Paris, also had a packed audience for the launch of her luxury ready-to-wear line in part of the Louvre museum complex.

Her choice of venue in a vaulted corridor, which she said "feels a bit like an Egyptian temple," was particularly apt for her collection steeped in history, mixing ancient symbols from the time of the Pharaohs, like lotus flowers, palm trees and scarabs and with Islamic geometric designs.

Necklines in crochet encrusted with semi-precious stones such as turquoise, amber and amethyst, or straps like the rays of the sun, could have come straight off hieroglyphs.

A shimmering evening gown in sequins had hieroglyphs delicately picked out in pearls down vertical bands of iridescent satin, while the eagle-head of the god Horus worked out in jewels nestled in cleavages and the small of backs.

Less grand but appealing in their simplicity were ecru linen frocks with metallic thread embroidery in the "talli" tradition of southern Egypt.

For casual daywear she showed crisp white cotton and linen separates, including shorts and tops and sleeveless shifts cut like djellabas, which struck the right balance between ethnic and commercial.

For her second foray into Paris ready-to-wear Thai Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana was inspired by 1970s and 80s hard rock. But her rockers, poured into their stretch lame cropped bikers' jackets and jeans, looked distinctly tame, despite their studded bikers boots.

To go with the heavy duty footwear she showed mostly mini dresses in silk crepe, with passementerie embroidery alongside bikers' studs, and 1920s flappers fringed frocks. Her "zips" print for tops with plenty of real zips was a witty moment in a collection which could have done with some more editing.

Royal protocol was observed with everyone rising to their feet for her parents in the ballroom of the Intercontinental Hotel. For the sake of fashion credibility perhaps next time she should consider a less grand venue and leaving mum and dad at home.by Sarah Shard

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