Christian Lacroix's couture is the quintessence of a certain palate-zinging taste that's unique to Paris. He lays on a visual feast that co-opts the draped grandeur of Edwardian gowns, the boudoir fragility of empire negligees, the richness of Spanish costume, and the eccentric side of the ladylike sixties. It's a rich mix indeed, especially when served up with puffy leg-o'-mutton sleeves, diamanté brooches the size of saucers, lashings of ribbons, and clouds of frosted cotton-candied headgear. And if that sounds like too much to take in one sitting, this collection was actually, to seasoned Lacroix-watchers, a calmer affair than usual, concentrating more on volume and color than his usual grande-bouffe decorative excess.
These clothes are best savored one by one. Take a gold-embroidered lace coat, trimmed with fur over a matching dress. Or a shell-pink, jet-beaded toreador bolero over a twisted geranium-red chiffon gown. Or a purple ombré-painted puffy Poiret coat over a ruffled, smocked pink mini tank dress. None of these bear any thematic relation to one another, save their outstanding individuality. They are for women capable of carrying off both whimsy and boldness, and that's a version of Parisian sophistication that's only ever on the menu at Lacroix's table.