Va va voom! Why we'll all be shortening our skirts now
Caitriona Durcan on the lessons we can learn from Paris Fashion Week
New York may be edgy, Milan is definitely super (or maybe that should be scarily) stylish, but there's something very special about Paris Fashion Week.
It might have been Roberto Cavalli's glitzy 40th anniversary celebrations or seeing 88-year-old Pierre Cardin back on the Paris catwalk for the first time in 10 years, but this year there seemed to be even more electricity than normal in the air.
Maybe it was the sight of Ines de la Fressange returning to the Chanel catwalk after a gap of 21 years? But then she wasn't the only surprise.
Orlando Bloom looked on admiringly as his wife, Miranda Kerr, and her six-month-old baby bump sashayed down the runway for Nicolas Ghesquiere.
The Balenciaga designer also used ordinary women he spotted on the street to display his creations, while plus-size models, including Crystal Renn, appeared clad in Zac Posen's latest designs.
It's certainly been an intriguing week. It could even herald the start of the post-size-zero age. Posen did say that he wanted to make clothes "for women who love life, and the best things in it -- sex, friendship, food".
Those sentiments are certainly to be applauded, but what about the clothes? Here's our round-up of the week's top looks.
Who are we channelling next season?
"The boyish rebel rockers at Balenciaga have met feminine girls in chiffon and pussy bow blouses," says Xposé presenter Aisling O'Loughlin. "It's about boys meeting girls."
"Many designers borrowed from men's fashions", agrees fashion editor and TV presenter Lisa Cannon. "John Galliano at Christian Dior lifted Marlon Brando's white T-shirt and jackets from On The Waterfront; and Viktor & Rolf were inspired by the pinstriped shirts of (male) bankers.
"However, Stella McCarthy's perspective gave a softer tone than the dark, tough femme portrayed by her male counterparts. Her models appeared in tailored pantsuits cuffed at the leg in pastel colours. And some skirts gave the illusion of being shorts from the front with a slit up the middle," adds Lisa.
The most obvious message from the spring fashion shows, which ended in Paris, was a dropping of hemlines -- in many cases all the way to the floor.
Mouret's look was highly body-conscious, and Chloe and Givenchy showed skirts in semi-sheer fabrics that were worn with shorts and miniskirts underneath for the sake of a little modesty.
However, Lisa Cannon warns that longer lengths could take a few seasons to really catch on. So don't give up that gym membership just yet.
Paris Fashion Week was preceded by shows in New York that were characterised by white, cream and neutral tones.
Perhaps they were a palate cleanser, but either way, the electric tones at PFW were like a revelation, and the designers who followed joined the choir.
In electric brights, the clothes walked the line beautifully between classy and campy, with silk mandarin-collar suits and slender heels swinging tassels, and evening gowns shimmying with a rainbow of beaded fringe.
"Neon colours and colourful prints are going be huge", according to Aisling.
"If you don't buy anything next summer, just add an animal. Prada's monkeys, of course, Louis Vuitton's zebras, tigers, pandas or giraffes," she says.
The 70s. Specifically? "About 73, 74" -- according to Vogue magazine.
Models camped it up on the catwalk in cheongsams, gaudy-coloured mandarin jackets, animal-print trouser suits and tiger print dresses. Minimalism evidently is not next season's thing.
However, one strand of the 70s that emerged from left of field was the unexpected burst of punk.
"Out of nowhere, we had this bit of punk that surprised us," says Aisling O'Loughlin. "It is a 70s idea, and many designers are doing the early 70s, so it makes sense that some would look a little later in the decade."
The clothes at Paris Fashion Week were fabulous, but let's not forget the all important finishing touches -- the accessories.
So much to covet, from the detachable coat collar-necklaces in perspex and metal, at Chloe, gold and lace that clasped the models' ponytails (don't dare call them scrunchies!), to the vast gold, tribal hoops and disc chokers at Yves saint Laurent.
And then there were the shoes . . . On the highly influential catwalk of Balenciaga in Paris, designer Nicolas Ghesquière showed flat shoes for the first time in 13 years.
"Flat shoes will be all the rage by next spring," says Lisa. "Other key styles were the leopard-print wedges at Lanvin; a pair of Prada kitten heels and copper lace-ups at Vivienne Westwood."
Transparent lace bodysuits and sheer blouses over sheer bras, kept world fashion editors on the fence.
There were too many examples of transparency to mention them all, but some of the more effective, and possibly saleable, looks included the illusion trench coats at John Galliano and Junya Watanabe and, from Dries van Noten, a sheer peach T-shirt that was shown over a white dress shirt (another essential item for spring).
"The idea of transparency gives the idea of lightness," Aisling says. "Everything is so fluid."
However, she added: "I do wonder how I'm going to wear a bra with this style."