Fashion For Grown Ups at Rue du Mail

Godfrey Deeny
Runway Model
FWD201 Model walks the runway at the Rue du Mail show during Spring 2013 Fashion Week in Paris on Wednesday, September 26, 2012. (Fashion Wire Daily/Gruber)

If there is such a thing as intellectual fashion then its leading thinker is Martine Sitbon, whose latest collection was an elegant statement on how cultural references allied with cerebral cutting and fabrics can create clothes that tell us something about our own thoughts.

Sitbon, the designer of Rue du Mail, the brand she founded on atmospheric Right Bank street in Paris, referenced a '60s idea of the future throughout, with clever hints of designers like Andre Courreges and Pierre Cardin, the first era when the mass media began to follow fashion. Yet, her retro futurist patent leather and plastic-coated boxy jackets never felt old, more a telling comment on our own naive idea about the future.

Sitbon's favorite material was a semi-sheer stiff chiffon, with an outer layer whose lines and mini dots echoed early TV network logos; while her marvelous soundtrack consisted of clanking beats and whirring motors, like a space ship taking off in a black and white film.

"I wanted joie de vivre. A gal that was tough but also pretty girly. Individuality, but no easy perfection," the designer said, after finishing with a series of see-through nylon trench coats and parkas, a high-tech menswear trend that has moved into women's wear this season.

Circles, short lines, scribbles all dashed across the cocktail dresses, before developing eventually into flowers, in this artfully styled collection. A future that was sweet yet also hardy.

"Flowers, yes but pretty abstract ones," added the designer, before greeting a flock of young models, thanking her for the show, treating her like the cool big sister they always wanted.