- Associated Press - Sunday, March 3, 2013

PARIS (AP) - There was a toughness in the air on the Paris catwalks Sunday.

But it wasn’t just in the black or the more grown-up styles that continued to dominate fall-winter shows.

Even designer Clare Waight Keller of normally gamine Chloe felt it.

Calling the mood “attitudy,” she used aggression on London night buses as the muse for a show that featured rings in ears and big metallic zippers.

The attitude continued in the severity of John Galliano’s knife pleats and leather straps; while, Kenzo’s temple guard sleeves and wrap fastenings added a ferocity that the designers compared to “ancient Asian warriors.”

In the last show of the day, Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci _ continued his signature exploration of dark gothic elements, following on from a combatorial menswear show. But this womenswear season, the floral-themed show came with an unusual metaphor: Can the clothes we wear in fact protect us?

GIVENCHY

Tisci unzipped, exposed and unfurled depths and transparencies in the Givenchy collection _ which was as original, as it was thought-provoking.

Just like the opening flowers that graced tops, frilly boho skirts and jackets as graphic prints, Tisci experimented with unfurled layers in clothing using zippers. They came on bombers and on pencil skirts in gothic black. Sometimes separate half zippered tops were wrapped around the midriff, with a lapel hanging down limply, like a petal on a half open bloom.

As the collection progressed, see-through organzas with floral detailing, made the backs of skirts visible through the front. It evoked a petal’s translucent fragility.

The other side of the coin, strength and protection, came in voluminous layer ensembles that completely hid the natural body shape. This collection’s only downside was an occasional overkill of frills, graphic prints, zippers and leathers which made the silhouette hard to discern.

Some sublime rounded-shoulder fur coats were some of the fall-winter show’s best looks. In this context, fur _ both natural skin and protection _ added beautifully to Tisci’s floral metaphor.

KENZO

Kenzo travelled to India for Sunday’s delightful homage to Asian temples.

Taking the flatness of Far Eastern silhouettes, grosgrain ribbon from house-founder Kenzo Takada’s former haberdashery was used to reimagine the temples’ lavish decorations in golds, rich reds, cobalt blues and black.

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