Ivana Omazic, an unknown 32-year-old Croatian, is the latest designer charged with figuring out a raison d'être for Celine's presence on the Paris runway. Admittedly, it's a tricky task. In very recent memory, Michael Kors, with his humor and bounce, has passed through this way, followed by Roberto Menichetti, with his abstruse modernism. So this third debut needed to give a strong directive about just how an internationally resonant fashion collection could be constructed around a name that, back in the day, was mostly known as a conservative French lady's source of handbags and everyday separates.
Omazic said she is inspired by that tradition. So what on earth was the audience supposed to think about the hot-orange dress, mohair crochet cardigan, and red floppy hat, worn with red kneesocks and high-heel sandals, that announced the opening of this show? (What to make, for that matter, of the fiery ball of Mars that was rotating at the end of the runway?) As far as could be detected, the "tradition" came later, in the canvas and tan leather-trimmed bags, the chain belts that circled cardigans, the cropped riding boots, and the box-pleated A-line skirts, some of which came with a chain detail slung below the waistband, center front.
But if that's where the message lay, it was comprehensively drowned in a showing that included too much black, an overabundance of cut-out swimwear, and what seemed like endless reiterations of the tight-bodice, full-skirt dress that opened the show. Quite possibly, taken apart and seen on a rail, this collection will look far more attractive. But styled and presented like this, it just didn't work.