- Associated Press - Sunday, March 4, 2012

PARIS (AP) - Equestrian styles dominated two major collections on day six of Paris fashion week, with horse-riding vestments _ some comfortably elegant, some constrictingly racy _ the motif explored by Hermes and Givenchy.

The gaucho or Argentine cowboy inspired a cool and confident mix of clothes at the Hermes show, set in the Ecole des Beaux Arts in the heart of Paris’ Saint Germain area. The location seemed to have rubbed off on the collection, with a graceful Left Bank chic softening the edge of ponchos, chaps and coats held like matador’s capes.

Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, meanwhile, turned on the horsepower for a pulse-quickening show complete with retro variations on jodphurs, riding jackets and racing boots.

In other collections, French designer Alexis Mabille revamped the school-girl bow ribbon, and Akris channelled the square silhouette _ one of the defining looks this season.

Monday’s ready-to-wear shows include Chloe and Yves Saint Laurent.


In his third collection for Hermes, the house of the jet-setting fashion buyer, Christophe Lemaire flew business-class to Argentina. His first piece introduced gentle, hanging silhouettes: a long fringed cape in dark blue was worn like a South American poncho.

Wide, low-slung pleated gaucho pants mixed with sumptuous nude leathers _ the house’s signature material _ that were so soft, they moved as if they were living and breathing.

True enough: as the models walked past there was a distinct aroma of polished hide.

There were nods to the season’s must-have, the boxy-jacket, with one charcoal number reworked on a high white collar, in the style of Spanish equestrian garb.

But Hermes, in typical style, was all about comfort.

The relaxed look was perfected with subtle contrasting pieces: a coat was so cool it hung from one shoulder, yet also had the fierceness of a matador’s cape.

Sunday saw Lemaire’s interest in the East restyled in a series of pajama-inspired dresses with intricate Persian prints that could be worn by women of all ages. And indeed the show saw models in their 40s walk down the runway.

Speaking backstage, Lemaire laughed: “We are timeless. Hermes is for individual women, whatever their age.” At which point, he was cut off by 65-year-old fashion icon Jane Birkin, who came to give him a kiss.


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