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Collections —Woman / Prêt-à-Porter

Fall / Winter — 2003

Press Release

From Headquarters, Floréal 24 (May 13), year IV of the Republic (1796).

 General Bonaparte writes:

 “I await Murat with impatience so I may hear in great detail all you do, all you say, the people you see, the clothes you wear; every thing about my adorable friend, dear to this heart of mine anxious to know….”

 Addressed to: Citizen Bonaparte, rue Chantereine 6, Paris.

“Harmony of opposites. A wish for grace and pride, simplification and emphasis pervades this collection unfolding as a story of magical shapes shifting ever closer to the body. Smaller dimensions, slimmer lines, higher (empire) waist spark an impression of fluidity and ease. Highlighting the expressly richer volumes, with hints of eccentricity mostly in the collar, sleeves, cuffs of dresses.

 I let myself succumb to a play of construction/deconstruction that is also a form of playing with History. With what I deem a wonderful age, for it saw the canons of elegance undergo change, become modern. Relinquish affectation, acquire purity and energy.

 With an utter intent of modernity, I explored certain aesthetic instances of the Directory and the early Napoleon. A man of great force and eloquent elegance, born – what a coincidence – on August 15. My birthday.

 I reread in the future tense the marks of an era holding both an allegorical expressiveness of military origin and the calm regal femininity of major figures – from Joséphine Beauharnais to Paolina Borghese, to Madame Récamier as portrayed by David.

 Manipulating inspirations/ideas from History, I redefined the structural design of the dress, experimented with new garment mixes, sought out singular alchemies of materials.

 Literally rounding out the basic cleanliness of lines is a sequence of fullnesses perfectly calibrated by drawstrings, drapings, lacings, distinctive cuts. The coat assumes a convex shape thanks to spiral ruche-forming darts. Sleeves go double as cuffs turn up almost to shoulders. The skirt in wool double with torn effect has a seductive trumpet flare in front while tapering smoothly in back.Volumes may expand, structures grow simpler. The trenchcoat and blouson with double collar (high and firm in Grande Armée greatcoat mode) feature versatile zip closures: partially open, they form lapels; all undone, they transform the garment in tailcoat, eliminating the front.

 The exquisitely small urban coat goes over a double georgette jumpsuit, a lace corset-jacket. The red satin redingote with luscious flaring at knee has a scratched mohair pullover underneath. The mink trench features soft leather on the outside, stripwork fur on the in. The tailcoat-jacket comes with a wonderful khaki alligator option.

 For evening, black works all its severe magic. Incredible rectangles of georgette define dresses draping in columns in front, with sheer empire bodice finely embroidered and padded; then in back a train with heavy velvet edging makes for a most sumptuous effect. Stunningly low-cut dresses come in mix with T-shirts. And Paolina’s famous nightshirt is enchanting once again thanks to sleeves now a swirl of laces and drapings.

 A desire for modern richness – conciliating precise shapes and eccentric inflections – marks the range of accessories, too. Bags have genuine-silver scepter handles. Other bags in classic tones of pony or python and fold over neatly in true umbrella-case mode. If in gray alligator, iguana, tejus with purple lining, they are ultrasmall.

 No less distinctive, the supremely feminine way, is the selection of shoes. As in flattering high boots. Long narrow slippers with sweet little knots, in heavy jersey or soft calf. Alligator wedge-sandals (to wear with thick hose or even knee-socks).

 Similarly, the palette is poised evenly between energy and calm. Alongside solid natural winter hues – urban gray, army and olive greens, khaki – I put the tender white and powder pink of the complexions of les merveilleuses… precious austere black, imperial red, plus the Martinique fuchsia Joséphine perhaps brought with her back to Paris, in her memories and in her heart….”

Gianfranco Ferré