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The Gracefulness of Light in Play

By Timothy Hagy

PARIS, January 25 - If there is one designer who has captured the spirit of couture, the gracefulness of light in play, it must surely be Christian Lacroix, whose exquisite show on Tuesday evening left a line of demoiselles making appointments in the atelier, and the soon-to-be owners of his House giving reassuring interviews to the international press corp.

On a bone-chilling evening, in an unheated courtyard of the École des Beaux Arts, ladies snuggled in their furs as drafts of icy wind fluttered around the bleachers, while the most quintessentially French of all art forms, haute couture, came face à face with the Floridian Falic Group.

If you went to the show looking for beauty, you certainly could have found it in a peach chiffon cocktail dress glittering as bright as new-fallen snow, in a pantsuit swirled with pastel colors and dripping in icicle embroidery, in a vanilla taffeta dress with a jacket poured in lavender mist like a Jackson Pollack painting, or in the diaphanous wedding dress with crystal jets cascading from the waist.

Bodices gathered into flowers, toga-like gowns wafted weightlessly along the catwalk, chiffon folded into whipped cream crests - and it all looked light enough to melt, even in the pale light of winter. An eighteenth century elegance permeated the courtly jackets and the splendid eveningwear. This collection was Christian Lacroix at his finest, a fact not lost on Ivana Trump, who sang his praises in Russian, on novelist Danielle Steel, who did the same in English, or on Simon Falic, CEO of the Falic Group, who communicated in American businessman. "I loved the show," he said afterwards. "I'm interested in buying lots of things, but it's rare that something like Lacroix is for sale."

When the last chords of the Poulenc organ concerto had died away and the spotlights were extinguished, a swarm of paparazzi descended, as desperate as sharks in search of red meat. Lines of journalists waited until the dust had settled, and then Christian Lacroix finally emerged. "I was thinking in sorbet colors," he offered as an explanation for his work, warmly reaching out to shake hands. But you'd have to wait until the tangerine, lemon and papaya had completely melted to realize that ephemeral beauty graces his every stroke.


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