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Live from Paris Fashion Week: Classic YSL, a looser Chloé and Stella McCartney (plus dad)

Amy Verner reports from the runways of Paris Fashion Week. Monday's shows included the new spring/summer 2012 collections of Stella McCartney, Ungaro, Giambattista Valli, Chloé, Vanessa Bruno and Yves Saint Laurent

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Stella McCartney Spring Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection Last spring, Stella McCartney zoomed in on citrus fruits, creating a zesty pattern of lemons and grapefruits. One year later, we get the close-up detail of a paisley print. Applying the curlicue to edges of her garments makes for dynamic undulating lines, whether on lapels or skirt hems.

Pascal Le Segretain/Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

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McCartney, who continues to design a collection for Adidas, typically incorporates sporty touches into her collection. When a slinky maxi dress is topped with a pared-back menswear vest, the result is cool confidence.


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With all the pattern mismatching this season – McCartney had a go at this, too – the matchy-match of this outfit and accessory stood out.

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Aw, Paul, you are such a supportive dad.

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Ungaro Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection Pity Ungaro, a venerable label that has suffered from designer turnover (ahem, Lindsay Lohan) and what appears to be internal creative tension. Jeanne Labib-Lamour, 29, took the bow on Monday, having been named chief designer, less than a month after Brit Giles Deacon ended his stint.

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In addition to printed diaphanous dresses (based on aerial NASA photographs, apparently), the collection included a striking – almost bloody – juxtaposition of red on white. There’s promise, for sure; but tension remains.

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Giambattista Valli Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection Giambattista Valli showed his first couture collection in June and his line continues to be top-of-mind for society’s grande dames (Lee Radziwill) and glowing stars (Jessica Biel). So what better way to appease both than a squared-off sleeve top in exaggerated zebra stripes and lunching lady skirt? Wild! (Yet womanly.)


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Ever the maximalist, Valli layered bangle upon cuff upon bracelet toward the end of the collection. Because nothing says edgy socialite like an arm adorned in precious metal and stone.


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Valli also digs texture and is never too far from a supply of decadent feathers or fur. But for this spring, he restrained himself to delicately fuzzy vests, or added volume with smartly placed ruffles around the breast-line and mid-thigh.

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Chloé Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection By Day 6 of this Paris heat wave, the tent in the Tuileries had adopted the name Cruel-eries. Sensing editors’ dread at returning to the sweatbox, organizers of the Chloé show removed the ceiling and treated everyone to an affair en plein air , complete with champagne and salted caramel macarons.

Benoit Tessier/Benoit Tessier/Reuters

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As if not already obvious, a looser pant is emerging as one of the strongest statements for spring 2012. You need only observe the relaxed slouch of these sea green slacks to get the drift.

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This is the first collection under the design direction of Clare Waight Keller (adieu, Hannah MacGibbon) so she’s naturally feeling the need to prove herself, or at least impart a defined aesthetic. While the geometric skirt suggests distinctive graphic detail, the sling back comes across as awkward.


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At least this is an unquestionably attractive back. But Chloé followers are likely pondering whether the collection was assertive enough. (It wasn’t.)


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Vanessa Bruno Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection French girls who are neither fashion plates nor fashion wallflowers love Vanessa Bruno, and it’s easy to see why. Her spring/summer collection was generally fresh and consisted of soft silhouettes, a neutral colour palette and interesting knit layering over breezy dresses.


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But this is where print mixing gets a bad rap; the metallic panels look slapped on like fancy duct tape and are only a marginal improvement on the strips of bedding-type fabric. Go big or go back to bed!


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Yves Saint Laurent Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection Last week, rumours circulated (and were quickly squashed) that Jil Sander’s Raf Simons would be replacing Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent. Pilati brings an aesthetic to the legendary label that is vaguely Yves, but also like nothing else. This crisscrossed halter neckline would not be interesting without the oppositional deep-V blouse overtop.


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Pilati keeps the original YSL spirit alive with menswear styling and rich colourways.


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And then he throws in a few super-feminine looks like this oceanic blue dress. At first glance, it almost appears prom-like; but a lot of effort has clearly gone into the shape. And the line is all the more successful for it.

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