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PARIS (Reuters) - Stella McCartney injected some masculinity into her signature soft, feminine designs with belted spray-print dresses and tapered trousers on Monday, adding to a string of Paris collections courting the working woman.
Faced with the end of the luxury boom, designers at Paris fashion week have moved from party frocks for socialites toward more wearable, sellable clothes -- although McCartney brushed off questions about the impact of the economic crisis.
"What crisis?" she said after her show, laughing before turning away to discuss the thigh-high faux leather boots and lace-and-wool dresses in her collection.
While the British designer has long been known for her flattering silhouettes, there has been a broader trend toward grown-up fashion, from Karl Lagerfeld's strong-shouldered coats to big-shouldered blue cardigans at Emanuel Ungaro.
Most of the power suits, knee-length skirts and subtly sexy dresses with lace inserts shown in Paris over the past few days could have been worn by the buyers and editors in the front row -- unlike the micro-minis and bra tops of past seasons.
"I'd like to give women something they get noticed in but won't be overwhelmed by," McCartney told reporters after the show.
Her father, Paul McCartney, was beaming proudly from the front row and bopping along to the upbeat soundtrack. "I thought it was fabulous -- very mature and chic, and inventive with those boots," he said, adding that his daughter sometimes designed his stage suits.
Executives at the Gucci Group, which owns the Stella McCartney brand, are likely to be pleased with the wearable collection and accessories such as flat, black clutch bags, as the crisis is forcing buyers to take a hard look at price, quality and design.
Many American buyers, usually a visible presence at the Milan and Paris shows, have stayed away from the autumn/winter shows, preferring to order online or over the phone.
The Russians are also less noticeable -- not surprising, since Russia's economy is expected to shrink this year after a 10-year boom.
Those who were still attending said they had become more cautious.
"I am always a careful shopper but I think, in general, everybody is looking at the clothes more carefully, not just in terms of quality but also quantity," said Vinita Schroeder, a physician from Dallas dressed in a grey wool Stella McCartney bustier dress.
Editing by Kevin Liffey