Japan's Koshino back in Paris to woo European market

A autumn/winter 2009 creation by Korean designer Lie Sang Bong during
Photo : Francois Guillot/AFP
PARIS, March 5, 2009 (AFP) - From the backdrop a line of black calligraphy on a white ground traced the length of the catwalk, setting a mood of zen-like tranquillity at Hiroko Koshino's ready-to-wear show for next autumn-winter on Thursday.

The veteran 71-year-old designer, who is huge in her native Japan with four labels and around 350 shops, has not shown in the French capital for more than 15 years. Now she has come back to break into the European market, she told AFP in a backstage interview.

She was unfazed by suggestions that a world recession was not perhaps an auspicious moment.

"A crisis is an opportunity for real creativity. It is my philosophy to start something new at the most difficult time," she insisted.

Her seamless blend of East-meets-West looked perfectly in tune with the times.

The influence of the kimono pervaded but was subtly reinterpreted for a wider audience. The traditional obi or sash came in for every kind of treatment, from being rolled up to quilted, tied every which way, as big as a backpack or reduced to a dinky half belt western style.

Models slouched down the runway in sculpted black wool shifts with funnel necks, hands thrust in pockets and bare arms leaving long sleeves dangling.

Comfortable cocoon dresses in wool were handpainted, daubed in inky blue and black, or burnt orange and turquoise, some picked out with threads of lurex.

She sprinkled cherry blossom motifs or calligraphy over fluid velvets in fawn and silvery green. Cocktail frocks were a shimmering confection of cut-out brown petals mounted on old gold.

The collection opened and was rounded off with dramatic taffeta ballgowns, with a Japanese print black and white landscape down the front and a giant quilted obi behind.

South Korean designer Lie Sang Bong's funky rock'n'roll take on next winter was bursting with clothes that screamed for attention and a place in the wardrobes of pop divas.

His models towered over the audience in over-the-thigh biker's boots with stiletto heels and platform soles as thick as a phone directory, in kitsch fake tiger skin and bronze leather.

It was a return to 1980s power-dressing, with shoulders so pointy you could cut yourself, some like military epaulettes with giant dangling tassels. The same outsize tassels were turned into hoola-hoola skirts and dresses.

The designer's fetish faux tiger skin turned up in short, zippy trenchcoats with matching ankle boots, bodysuits and extraordinary evening dresses which looked like finely shredded cellophane but quivered like feathers.

France's Michel Klein also picked up on the new emphasis on shoulders with the collection for his label, which he presented to press and buyers on static black tailors' dummies set out in a long line in a museum restaurant.

From the passementerie epaulettes on a navy blue gabardine dress, to skeins of wool masquerading as 'fur' collars on cardigans and coats and the sharp tailoring of a black ponyskin frockcoat, shoulders were identified as key to next season's silhouette.

Stand-out pieces included ultra-soft angora coats which looked like gorilla fur, worn over leggings in black satin leather with studs, a quilted frockcoat with circular stitching and a bolero with encrustations of chunky fake gemstones covered in black net.

Sexy party frocks and bucketloads of sequins were the mainstay of Christophe Decarnin's collection for Balmain.

His models tripped around the runway in jackets with pointy shoulders and clingy mini dresses in silver sequins edged with tulle.

The stripes of sailors' jerseys were picked out in sequins, which were even spattered across humble white Tee shirts.by Sarah Shard

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