It wasn't exactly the sixties that Martine Sitbon was after in her new Rue du Mail collection; more her memory of a Pop-y moment in fashion when mini-shifted dollies like Mia Farrow and Catherine Deneuve set the pace. Sitbon put a lot of op in her Pop by launching the show with a monochrome ode to the circle: Sheer silk georgette shifts were appliquéd with quivering little discs. Then the story passed through a geometric vinyl moment that brought André Courrèges to mind (he's on a lot of minds at the moment) before another meditation on circles, this time cut out like a sci-fi lace, or huge and rimmed in embroidery like solar eclipses. The circles mutated into abstract flowers, still monochrome, almost viruslike, and now hinting at contemporary Japanese woodcuts. A little futuristic, a little Asian… Sitbon mentioned Wong Kar-wai, though the Hong Kong director's abstract 2046 would be more appropriate than his saturatingly romantic In the Mood for Love, which is regularly cited as a major fashion influence. Even so, Sitbon started to introduce sweetness with appliqués of flowers and accents of cherry-blossom pink. Then, two pops of Chinese red, and it was back to the monochrome virus.
The show had the momentum of something steadily unfolding, from beginning to end. Sitbon imagined the momentum as optimistic, but she said it was optimism born of experience, rather than some shallow feel-good reaction to life. She herself has, after all, known hard times. Maybe that's why these clothes ultimately felt less optimistic than resigned. A little pretty, a little bitter.