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Givenchy Presents a Day/Night Contrast

Hubert de Givenchy was the last of the major designers to show a fall/winter collection here this week. Like Yves Saint Laurent, his style remained simple and serious by day with fashion fireworks reserved for evening.

As at Saint Laurent, the day message was delivered in seven-eighths-length coats, often in leather and framed in fox over either belted jersey chemise dresses or strictly tailored conservative suits.

“You like different designers for different reasons,” said former fashion model Patricia Kennedy of Los Angeles after the show. “Givenchy’s clothes are wearable, not in any boring sense, but just easy.” This is Kennedy’s third visit to the couture. “It’s an art form I appreciate,” she said.

Day looks took off when Givenchy added color, as with the sunflower-yellow, double-breasted short coat in chinchilla wool or the grass-green suit with its jewel neckline hidden under a fox-trimmed, cornflower-blue stole. There was more color in the hot-pink suede gloves and fez.

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Like everyone else in Paris, Givenchy consistently kept lengths above the knee for day; for evening, what with drapings and side wrappings, skirts often inched thighward.

One of the current best-selling books in Paris is a biography of Christian Berard by Boris Kochno. Berard, who died in 1949, was an artist and illustrator. Givenchy freely borrowed from his drawings for some charming “face” or “bow” prints in Berard’s signature pastels. The prettiest of these was in cloud blue.

He shaped the prints on silk ottoman into unique cocktail suits or on chiffon into Pierrot-collar, floor-length dresses with drifts of fabric in the skirt.

Other evening inspirations were Givenchy’s body-clinging velvet cloque dresses with stretch added or his velvet-bodice, strapless dresses with whorls of satin or taffeta ruched into ruffles or hip bows. One of the prettiest dresses looked as if it was right out of a Goya painting. Rows of black ribbon lace formed an off-the-shoulder, long-sleeve dress with a short bell skirt that bounced from a dropped torso.

As Givenchy said before his show, the news was in his emphasis on short lengths for evening. When hemlines did hit the floor, often they swooped up to above the knee in front. Adorning ears and arms and necklines: massive heart-shape jewels in gold or glittering stones.

Mississippi-born Patrick Kelly, a ready-to-wear designer who always insists on clothes at a good price, took advantage of the 870 journalists, photographers and American store buyers in Paris for the couture collections and presented what he called “a wink at the couture.” He planned to show only six pieces but ended by showing a 50-piece collection because store VIPs expressed a real interest. The audience turnout, including socialites, press and store reps, was as strong as it has been for most of the major couture houses. The big hit of Kelly’s show was the flounced peplum suit he styled in brightly colored satin. Prices will be about $1,000.

With the feud still escalating between the house of Saint Laurent and Women’s Wear Daily (the newspaper’s publisher, John Fairchild, was barred from the designer’s show) a Page 1 story in Thursday’s International Herald Tribune reported yet another couture scandale .

A jury of 23 French fashion journalists awarded the biannual Gold Thimble for best couture collection of the week to the house of Pierre Balmain. The winning collection, designed by Erik Mortensen, was classic Balmain with the exception of Bermuda shorts in winter fabrics. Every couture designer, except for Saint Laurent and Hubert de Givenchy (who sent along two of his models), was present at the Galeria Museum for the ceremony, presided over by Bernadette Chirac, wife of the French prime minister.

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Everyone expected that Christian Lacroix would win it. When Balmain was named, there were boos and rude gestures, indicating that couture is indeed alive and well in Paris.


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