Fashion is a means to an end for Agnès B., a platform for her engagement with the world through art, social activism, and strategic alliances. For instance, at her show this season, she gave away a bottle of water that Philippe Starck has designed to publicize a French initiative to make access to clean drinking water a universal right. This meeting of the minds with Starck is the kind of rencontre she loves. And that sense of collaboration could have been the theme of her latest show. Alongside the catwalk pros, Agnès had rounded up a random crowd of friends and relatives of all ages to model her new collection.
Fact is, this designer's clothes define a strand of style that the world recognizes from French movies. It's slightly boho, slightly scruffy, long on diffidence and charm. All the elements were present here: biker jacket, duffel coat, safari jacket, marine stripes with sailor cap to match; the kind of vintage American influence—army surplus, college boy, baseball jackets, and jeans—that France has swallowed whole since the days of Brando and Dean. What Agnès brought to the party was color, a lightness of touch—the biker jacket was navy cotton, the jeans were purple, the duffel coat was linen—and a sense of humor, which surely explains a Napoleonic detour, complete with sash and bicorne.