See more/Buy Now
PARIS Spring 2004

Torrente threw out traditional invitations this season in favor of a more contemporary design, one featuring the House's new designer, Julien Fournié, hard at work. As program notes stated, it's no easy task to renew a venerable Parisian fashion house, and that was made clear by the Ready-to-Wear show presented Wednesday morning.

Guests arrived to an elegant breakfast of chocolate croissants and skewers of strawberries, figs, pineapple and melon, and then proceeded upstairs in the company's Headquarters to a salon converted for the event.

Fournié, in his program notes, confessed a love of American films and musicals from the 50s, and that evidently inspired the retro-collection that was sent down the catwalk. To an opening
  soundtrack from MGM, and an announcer speaking into an old fashioned microphone, pinstripe suits were jazzed up with rainbow colored belts, lime green ties and glazed leather cummerbunds.

As the music changed to an orchestral rendering of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", a set of magenta tutus sprouted over slack suits, and apricot bell-shaped dresses blossomed with a sprinkling of sequined roses. The signature of the House's founder, Rose Torrente-Mett was also used to form a glitzy brocade for evening.

Some of the pieces were more convincing, as in a dusty rose scalloped cocktail dress and a scrumptious chartreuse satin evening gown paired with a jet-black bolero, but overall, more questions were raised than answered. Rose retired suddenly after the couture shows last January, to be succeeded by Christophe Josse, who lasted only one season, only to replaced by Julien. Whether the House is going forward, or backwards, has yet to be made completely clear.

  As models strolled the runway with lighted cigarettes, they appeared as out of synch with modern times as the cloud of blue smoke that follows much of the world's fashion flock. In the end, instead of brushing off the dust, another layer may well have been added.