If life in fashion were fair, Christian Lacroix would be awarded a grace under pressure medal for turning out his extraordinary spring haute couture collection. At a time when so many creative forces in the world of fashion are falling prey to financial change, he stood his ground with equanimity, despite the fact that his house is about to be sold. (News recently broke that his parent company, LVMH, is ready to pass the brand to the Falic Group.)
The emotional accolades Lacroix received at the end of his show weren't clouded by any sense of a sympathy vote. For half an hour, Lacroix had suspended all tension with a delightful display of the colorful, eccentrically artistic couture accomplishments he has developed since he first broke onto the scene in 1987.
In general terms, the collection ticked all the boxes of current fashion relevance by working small waists and bouncy skirts, Empire-line gowns, eighteenth century jackets, and dreamy, floral romanticism. All that might be done in ready-to-wear, but what sets this collection apart as a unique work of couture-grade individualism is Lacroix's talent as a full-spectrum colorist, a man who can handle eye-socking orange as convincingly as sugared-water shades of pink.
In 20 years, Lacroix has evolved from stiff poufs and restricting Comédie-Française corsets into a fragile decorativeness that vividly frames the litheness of the body. Given fantasy funds, what young woman wouldn't spring for a palest-blush chiffon gown, decorated with crystal in the bodice, its skirts looped up and fastened with bows of velvet ribbon? Or dance at some grand event in a taffeta balloon bustier dress with a back that blooms like a giant poppy? If sheer beauty rather than financial reckoning is a justification for the continuance of this unique collection, moments like these ought to win Lacroix's argument for him. It's to be hoped they do.