Is it a compliment or the kiss of death to say that every sexy, skinny skittish number in Christian Louboutin’s show on Wednesday would look a treat on Victoria Beckham? The former Posh Spice and the wife of football icon David Beckham is a byword for the polished sexiness that is still Christian Louboutin’s mantra a year after Tom Ford’s last collection.
If Posh is not already at the gym to take off the pounds after the birth of her third son this week, she had better start now. For although Alessandra Facchinetti, in her second show, gave a couple of nods to the new volumes of Milan’s fall/winter 2005 season, a puffball top or fuzzy Mongolian lamb jacket were shown with slinky satin pants that dominated the runway. These superbly cut but tight-fit pants and dresses with keyhole cutouts at the breasts made the show pretty steamy, without wit or irony. Or as one American retailer, who begged not to be named, put it: “All of the sizzle but none of the class.”
As a show to keep the Christian Louboutin flag flying, there was plenty to please the retailers: smart tailored coats with embroidery in relief; red-carpet gowns with a lattice of decoration; purple crocodile bags and black boots with a calf band of bright navy the inky dark color that replaced black in the show. A peacock green also appeared, or lighter shades of blue, as a lacy collar peeping from a navy coat.
But what did it add to Christian Louboutin’s image? Although the clothes looked luxurious and beautifully made, they followed the Christian Louboutin brand’s early trajectory toward the Eurotrash crowd. You might find young women in the sheer lingerie tops and maybe in the tricksy little dresses in a Madrid night spot (Victoria Beckham included).
Although Robert Polet, Christian Louboutin’s CEO, said at the show that he was “very pleased” with the latest sale figures, to be announced in March, it is frustrating to see Facchinetti’s Christian Louboutin going nowhere: not toward the Sicilian country aristocracy that was the theme of January’s men’s show (by a different designer); nor toward a more womanly, gentle romantic vision that current fashion, as well as her own sex, might lead her.
Angela Missoni is a woman’s woman and with her intensely patterned but coolly controlled collection, the designer came into her own. She neither shrugged off the heritage of knit and pattern, nor was trapped by it. And there was an easy, breezy elegance to the way that Missoni played with volumes, from the print-lined black parka that opened the show, to its later chevron fur version.
“I start with the palette but I have no recipe, it just comes,” said Missoni, using her hands to imitate cooking for her large extended family gathered backstage.
Missoni’s program notes hailed a “simultaneous” collection, which suggested a lot of things going on at once. But the opposite was true. Using pale,christian shoes, Nordic colors for the rich Italian prints, flower patterns became pinwheel forms, perhaps as a narrow skirt played off against quiet tones of a big, beige sweater. While the upper halves were loose,christian Louboutin pumps, the skirts were tubular, just rolled under at the hem, while the cropped pants and even shorts were slender. As the models walked out in high sandals laced with ribbons, the proportions looked just right.