The feeling of awe and delight Christian Lacroix can create is one of the unparalleled experiences of haute couture. It's a unique sensory overload that saturates the retina with color and sets the mind spinning at the improbable artistry embedded in every single look he sends out. He called his Summer collection "An Angel Passing By," and that was exactly the feeling he evoked. Without going overboard, he created something quite heavenly to watch.
Lacroix has the knack of making the elaborate look easy. He puffs up volumes, overlays lace, paints broad brushstrokes, whips up taffeta meringues, ties ribbons, and embellishes with the nuttiest dingle-dangle pompoms and the prettiest chunks of sparkle. Each outfit is its own complete marvel, as surprising from the back as it is from the front. It's possible to get lost in looking: at the tiered train of a chiffon dress that resembles a river of blues as it passes, at the exact choice of a turquoise ribbon contrasted with emerald, at the jolt of fluorescent fuchsia gazar lashed around with black. All this, before you even note the crazy fact that the tights, too, are ombré-tinted pink or gray, and the shoes are mad gingham platforms with bows on the toes.
It scarcely matters that, on paper, Lacroix is doing nothing new. The ideas that went into this incredible collection are the ones he's always worked at: influences from the eighteeth century, fin de siècle Paris, and gypsy costume. What counts is the apparently effortless way he tosses it all togetherthe intense command of skills and materials brought together in an exuberant expression of enjoyment. It was a triumph.