Paris designers tone down the bling

March 2, 2008 5:30:58 PM PST
The Paris ready-to-wear collections entered their final stretch on Sunday, capping a season overshadowed by fears of recession that saw many designers shunning ostentatious luxury for a more understated elegance.

Belgian designer Olivier Theyskens captured the mood with his autumn-winter collection for Nina Ricci, sending out artfully disheveled outfits in heirloom satins, velvets and silks.

Models ambled through a tent in the Tuileries gardens in deconstructed jackets over slim pants in rich shades of sienna, purple and gold.

Jacket shoulders were deliberately knocked back, while inset panels followed the body's natural curve.

"I wanted to approach each item in the collection like the ultimate standalone piece," Theyskens told reporters after the show.

For evening, he gave Empress Josephine a rock chick makeover, sending out Empire-line gowns in dusty flesh colors that split open in the back for a semi-undressed feel.

"I find that sensual," he said. "There is an undone, nonchalant side that I like a lot."

The Paris shows were set to conclude with displays by designer Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton and Alber Elbaz for Lanvin.

With the dollar hitting an all-time low against the euro, U.S.

retailers have cut back their overall spending and homed in on pieces with a lifespan of more than one season.

Glenda Bailey, editor in chief of the U.S. edition of Harper's Bazaar magazine, said the distressed suits seen at Chanel earlier this week summed up the current mood.

"We want to have luxury, but we don't want it to be too overt.

We want to look like it's something that is very personal to us," she said.

"The secret of next season really is all about personal style.

It's about putting together a look which is right for you."