Generally adopting the light, airy silhouette cut on the catwalks in Milan, the designers who presented their ready-to-wear collections for spring-summer 2004 in the French capital, nonetheless, added a healthy dash of sex appeal.
Tom Ford’s ravishing collection for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche stood as the perfect example of the trend: slinky satin trouser suits, seductive silk gowns and the house’s timeless women’s tuxedo radiated grace and sensuality.
Karl Lagerfeld’s top-notch effort for Chanel, recreating the house’s classic tweed suits in a rainbow of colours and bright floral, proved that pretty clothes are eternally chic.
Delicate prints, impeccable cuts and subtle detailing that celebrated the female form also ruled the day for Dries van Noten and Balenciaga. At Lanvin, Alber Elbaz’s simple gowns in powder pink and maroon glace oozed elegance.
Giambattista Valli for Emanuel Ungaro and Michael Kors for Celine both opted for the Saint-Tropez jet-set version of summer beauty, offering wispy silk and chiffon dresses in hot shades like fuchsia, orange, turquoise and lime green.
Valentino travelled the same route, designing a sumptuous wardrobe for stars on a pleasure cruise, with butterflies fluttering throughout the collection: on airy chiffon skirts, bright tote bags and delicate stiletto heels.
At Chloe, British designer Phoebe Philo embraced the carefree late 1970s and early 1980s, reviving the era of girlish white lace cotton blouses and faded bellbottom jeans with high braided waistbands.
The lingerie look came out of the boudoir and onto the runway, with John Galliano for Christian Dior, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Lars Nilsson at Nina Ricci presenting variations on a theme – some nice, some a bit more naughty.
Galliano, ever willing to ramp up the sex quotient, vamped it up for Dior with liquid satin suits over racy bustiers – not exactly appropriate for the office – see-through trousers over black panties and revealing swimwear.
As for putting on an amazing show, Galliano’s compatriot Alexander McQueen was second to none, staging a dazzling Depression-era dance-till-you-drop marathon based on Horace McCoy’s novel They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
As the dancer-models whirled around an ornate ballroom floor, the glamorous evening gowns transformed into patchwork chic, with floral print dresses fraying away and a pair of jeans barely held together with flesh-toned fabric.