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by Timothy Hagy

PARIS, July 1, 2005 - Even as the hotel clerk took cash from my outstretched hand, his inherent Gallic hauteur got the best of him. After having criticized most everything American, he suggested that the French socialist system should be a model for the world. With staggering unemployment, bone numbing taxes, a dysfunctional educational system and a paralyzed government, it takes a stretch of the imagination to find that model convincing.

But fashion is full of imagination, and the threads there, at least as Paris men’s shows are concerned, are holding firm. On a cloudy Friday, when the skies spit drops of rain, the season effectively opened with the Antonio Miro show staged in an art gallery located steps away from the Bastille.

Through good times and bad, the Barcelona-based designer has shown each season, and as the boys (the in-house term used for male models) streamed in from Milan, followed by the fashion set and their clouds of perpetual smoke - the source being both cigarette and otherwise - the lights came up on the Summer 2006 collections.

Miro’s casual look was seemingly aimed at a sizzling-hot day. With a palette jazzed up with pumpkin and robin egg blue, shirts were sprinkled with polka dots, while aluminum lamé pants and even a plum evening jacket sparkled along the catwalk.

If you were looking for ideas that pushed the codes of men’s fashion a belt notch further, you probably didn’t find them. But from a commercial points of view, all was well.

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