PARIS (Reuters) - If green is the color of hope, John Galliano's latest collection for Dior perfectly captured the mood at Paris fashion week Friday as designers and fans dared to show optimism.
From Dior, where soft dresses in greens and pinks were spiced up with riding jackets and flirty stockings, to Vivienne Westwood, who matched princess gowns with paupers' rags, fashionistas acknowledged the tough times while allowing themselves to have some fun.
Bags, huge hats and thigh-high boots on the catwalk kept executives happy as accessories continue to be the bestsellers of the fashion world.
"It was gorgeous, very daring and beautiful," France's stylish economy minister, Christine Lagarde, told Reuters after the Dior show, lifting her thumbs and shouting: "Up!" when asked what this meant for French exports.
Her presence was a sign of the changing mood. Last year, French politicians avoided the shows, wary of sipping champagne with the elite while voters were struggling with the economic crisis.
This year, the bubbly was back, and so was the elite, although some front-row seats were empty.
Hollywood wild child Lindsay Lohan, who will show her second collection for fashion house Ungaro next week after a widely panned debut, failed to turn up for her special appearance at Dior. She was seen hurrying toward the Dior tent in the sun-dappled Tuileries gardens just as the last models were wiping off their make-up, more than an hour after the show.
Other than Lohan, there were few A-listers, a reminder that despite moments of frivolity, budgets are still far from boom-time levels. Many shows were staged in a freezing hangar outside the city center, and even the creative side reflected the difficult conditions.
At Lanvin, designer Alber Elbaz drew strength from the 1980s power woman, with voluminous shoulders in a tribal-inspired collection.
"Shoulders are really a symbol of power," Elbaz told journalists, switching to a more tongue-in-cheek tone when explaining the black wigs worn by all his models.
"I see many women going to same doctor to get the same lips, the same eyes, the same hair. I just wanted to show how it looks when everybody looks alike," he said.
Westwood also played with strong shoulders and stronger heroes, building a collection around Prince Charming. Princely coats and Little Red Riding Hood dresses were worn with colorful paper crowns, knotted headscarves or huge fur hats.
Grey shrugs, held together with safety pins, gave an edge to romantic floral-patterned dresses and shimmering gowns.
"Fairy tales are all about injustice and cruelty and danger," Westwood told reporters backstage. "That's why it's very good for children to grow up with that -- in the end, it works out, and Cinderella goes to the ball."
Additional reporting by Mathilde Gardin and Astrid Wendlandt; editing by Andrew Dobbie