Charles Anastase's world is unsettling. Its population is girls (never women; they never reach that age), girls whose supernaturally elongated proportions are stretched still farther by long dresses and treacherously high platform shoes. Its atmosphere is a mix of the proper and the perverse: Cue the schoolgirl blouse that is buttoned neatly up to the neck and pinned with a pussycat brooch—but that is also entirely see-through. And its culture is Gallic, almost to the point of vaudeville. Anastase comes on like the professional Frenchman abroad, all zese-zose zest for la mode, with Pierrot collars and a Bardot sweater dress slipping off a model's shoulders on the runway, and Serge Gainsbourg's songs all over the soundtrack.
The Gainsbourg backing track made one think that the girls, with their heavy-rimmed glasses, mussed bobs, and pretty pouts, might be modeled after the singer's onetime girlfriend Jane Birkin—that is, until Anastase's right hand, Valentine Fillol-Cordier, popped up backstage with heavy-rimmed glasses ("Blind since 5," she said cheerily), mussed bob, and pretty pout. Her sweetness infected Anastase in a positive way: drop waists, flower-studded netting, sheerness that was perversely demure. Perhaps it helped that he built his collection on a dotted Swiss fabric called plume matis, which brought delicacy to maîtresse-y pencil skirts at the same time as it underlined the skewed classicism of his vision. (As did the silver brocade pieces, simultaneously ancien régime and rock 'n' roll.) Anastase's world may be unsettling, but it is remarkably consistent—and that's called a signature.
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