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Spring out of bed with Stella McCartney

October 04, 2011

Models wear creations for Stella McCartney's spring-summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection presented Monday, Oct.3, 2011 in Paris. - AP Photo

PARIS: How do you make a woman look sensual in a sporty mesh, ultra-feminine in a pair of grandpa pyjamas? Stella McCartney offered some clues Monday with a sexy spring look blending sportswear fabrics, liquid silks and lingerie lace.

Under the ornate ceilings of the Paris Opera, Sir Paul McCartney took place in the front row for his daughter's show, on day seven of Paris' nine-day ready-to-wear fashion marathon for spring-summer 2012.

Setting the tone, the opening number was a sleeveless cream tunic dress, wrapped shut with a wave-like pattern curling from shoulder to opposite hip, over a delicate lace petticoat.

The same curvy wave motif licked at the hems of silk mini-dresses, or ran in slants across the chest or defined sections of sporty airtex mesh.

Oyster and cobalt blue gave way to a festival of tiny-patterned dark blue and wine red, as McCartney took classic jacquards, paisleys, oriental circles and shrank their detailing to create the appearance of uniform colours.

Mesh panels and strips were worked into the silk and lace garments throughout, without breaking the sensual flow of body-contouring dresses worn under outsized shades and tiny ballerina chignons.

“Sportswear and lingerie are two worlds that I love,” McCartney told AFP backstage after the show. “And to bring sportswear into luxury and femininity is a really exciting thing to do.”Ample, swishing pantsuits and all-in-ones – a McCartney staple – were cut to suggest a man's pyjamas, but in the softest of caressing silks.

Sleeves were left long and floppy, part covering the hand, while pant hems slinked to the floor over gold-tipped high heels, sometimes under a boyish jacket worn open and loose, or a roomy, chunky red sweater.

“There is something to be said, being a woman in this day and age, for a little ease,” quipped the designer and mother-of-four.

“I want women to look naturally sexy. I don't want it to be shouted out.”At McCartney's former label Chloe, the models took obvious pleasure in showcasing the new look by incoming British-born designer Claire Waight Keller, walking with a spring in their step, hands thrust in pockets, loose hair and nude make-up.

Keller, who breathed new life into the knitwear brand Pringle of Scotland in her six years at the label, sent out a fresh, harmonious line built around soft, powdery shades of beige and pink.

This season's ubiquitous pleats were worked into halter-neck maxi-dresses with a coloured stripe on the crest of each pleat – in emerald green, caramel or yellow – that created a shifting sunray effect as the models walked.

There was subtle colour shading, like on a blouse with wide vertical cream pleats that shifted at the sides into caramel, first light then deep.

Delicate floral motifs adorned slouchy rolled-up white pants, worn under a pleated sheer white blouse and cream jacket, or were splashed on a buttoned-up white blouse tucked into cream mini-shorts.

A knitwear specialist, Keller worked at Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Pringle before taking over from compatriot Hannah MacGibbon at Chloe.

Aside from McCartney, who left in 2001 to start her own label, past creative directors at Chloe – part of the Swiss luxury group Richemont – have included Britain's Phoebe Philo, now creative director at Celine.

Emanuel Ungaro's spring-summer look, meanwhile, bid bye-bye to the Briton Giles Deacon, who is leaving after just two seasons at the helm, the latest in a merry-go-round of designers at the French label.

While Deacon sent out femmes fatales in lace and sultry mini-dresses, Ungaro's latest collection – billed as a team effort by its creative studio – returned to more sober cuts in lagoon blue and pomegranate prints.