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Photographed by Gabriel Karanfil

By the time a newly bearded Christian Lacroix had dashed down the strip of canary-yellow sand that served as a runway, a throng of French admirers closed in around him causing startled security guards to engage in crowd control. In the maelstrom he responded to one lady's remark, "I'm glad it was fun for you."

The remark, of course, was a telling reminder that the beautiful mesh of flowers that framed the stage, and the crystal ball suspended from the ceiling, were a smoke and mirrors mirage that bares little in common with the sweat and tears of an atelier where every pleat, tuck and fold is scrutinized and remade.

The title of the show, "Escapade", was born out in a whimsical collection full of Bohemian undercurrents, and stamped here and there by the unmistakable glitter of Lacroix's haute couture.

Scarves wound round the head, handkerchiefs circled the neck, and full skirts floated down the catwalk, giving a fluidity that seemed inspired by the sea breezes off the Mediterranean. Men came attired in white trousers and blue blazers affixed with majestic crests, looking as if they had stepped off the deck of a yacht moored somewhere chic.

But the poetic grace of a chartreuse bolero dripping in gold, or a gossamer evening dress dusted in silver sequins, or still yet, a powder-blue vest glistening in rose embroidery, brought this collection to an entirely different level, one as heady and complex as the signature couture in which Lacroix has made his name famous.

Nearly one year after being bought by the Falic Group, and one week after having announced his divorce from Pucci, the last of Christian Lacroix's affiliation with LVMH, you get the sense that change is imminent.

Program notes announced plans to launch a new red and white label. To be shown next spring in the Las Vegas boutique, it will eventually be available in shops worldwide. What was unclear was whether it was meant to eventually combine Ready-to-Wear and couture into a new up-market line.

On that subject, nobody was talking.


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