February 26, 2000
At Balmain, Gilles Dufour takes the house's staid Jolie Madame image and filters it through the eyes of a younger generation. There is a limit to how rebellious his gilded Parisienne wants to get, however. Grandmère's draped black-jersey cocktail dress from the '40s? Punk it up a little with colored hose and spike-heeled satin ankle boots. Maman's sun-ray-pleated, giant-dot print '60s chiffon frock? Shrug a slim leather coat over it, and pin your hair into a messy French twist. Those dappled double-face country tweeds (nip-waist jackets and short, full skirts)? Spice them up with a graffiti print T-shirt or a skinny cashmere sweater with a saucy message emblazoned across the front.
Dufour takes an old leaf from Schiaparelli's book too, sprinkling beaded butterflies, satin M&Ms or coils of "pasta" on fitted evening jackets, or sequin eyes, lips and even bright-colored false nails on knits. Flying with the season's "more is more" mantra, and leaving the editing to the editors, Dufour throws little mink matinee jackets (reinvented in cartoon colors and shrugged over cut-velvet and chiffon kilts), firework embroideries and Dickensian cutaway jackets into the frantic mix.