Ah, Paris! For so many people this is the heart and soul of fashion and just looking around reminds one that so many great fashion houses call Paris home. Yet, this season seems to be getting off to a slow start. This is the third show we’ve watched this morning and the first one that has had enough content for us to bother writing about. In some ways, Paris feels a bit distracted this morning. So, it was quite pleasant to see Christine Phung’s contemporary but practical spring/summer collection come down the runway. Now it feels as though Paris Fashion Week has started.

Christine Phung understands how to perfectly walk that line between being new and contemporary and still keeping things wearable. We’ll see a lot of avant garde styles this week but Christine starts the event with a line that, even for her, is more clean, very uncluttered, and very well defined. Gone are the padded shoulders from the past couple of seasons. Also gone are the elaborate embellishments we saw on some of her tops last year. This is a relatively straight-forward, well-designed collection that is perfect for spring.

That’s not to say the collection is boring by any means. One of the things Ms. Phung enjoys is finding ways to work geometric patterns into her designs without being so terribly obvious about what she’s doing. Last season, we saw it in the pattern of her sweaters. For spring, one wants to pay attention to the lines along which things are cut. Namely, she uses a 45-degree diagonal stripe to great effect. We see the lines first in the shapes she cuts into the bodice of a dress done completely in white mesh. For something that is so sheer, the lines give an element of interest and a bit of drama to the dress. We see it next in the pattern of red and blue polka dots on a white blouse, a print she uses effectively and often in this collection. What’s most effective, though, is when she uses the lines as architectural straps for tops and dresses. Here, one feels the strength and sees the beauty of the diagonal line in dramatic detail.

Along the way, one notices that Ms. Phung’s silhouettes are a little more simple this season, with very clean lines that let fabrics generally fall in their natural direction. Hemlines are predictably short and sleeves, where they occur, are predictably full. With one exception, pants are full at the waist and then taper toward the ankle. We see a lot of mesh touches in this collection and a lot of chiffon and other light weight fabrics.

One other thing one can’t help but notice in this early presentation are the eye brows of the models coming down the runway: they’re red. Bright red. While Ms. Phung uses this bright red/orange on only four pieces in the collection (blue is actually a more dominant color), the red is on the eye brows of every model. I can’t say it’s a look that’s likely to catch on, but it certainly is noticeable.

Christine Phung’s spring/summer collection is light, simple, and incredibly wearable. This is a very good way to start Paris Fashion Week. Let’s hope the good design continues.

Photo credit: Regis Colin

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