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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Hermès

Pia Catton...

Go-go gauchos roamed the Hermès runway, a long and dusty road covered with sand and dotted with cacti. Nary a lonesome doll was without a cowboy hat. Fringe, ponchos, bananas—all the trappings of the Wild West were here. Leather jackets and ponchos came in creamy shades of butter and tan. Scarf gowns were cinched with belts that sparkled with bits of silver.

The show opened with Stephanie Seymour, followed by Naomi Campbell. They closed the show (in reverse order) wearing tiered halter gowns. Say what you will, their steady sex appeal made the other girls look like the walking dead from a gold-rush ghost town.

It's debatable that fringe on a classic Hermès bag is a wise move. But Jean Paul Gaultier has to put all those leather goods into context season after season. And really, the Western theme has been off the radar since the last time Madonna left the gym wearing a cowboy hat. Ralph Lauren does it, but in a more turquoise-studded Americana sort of way. Here, the undercurrent was a certain Latin lustiness. The combination of feminine allure and masculine touches, like cigars, produced a frisson of sexuality, à la Zoro, plus bad guy, plus the captive princess—all in one bright orange box.

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