PARIS -- Paris is off on a hayride. Left behind at the spring couture shows are the usual luxurious trimmings of satin ribbons and lace. Instead, the braids, edgings, fringes and accessories are mostly of straw or raffia. In the sensitive fingers of couture artisans, these materials have been transformed into gilded objects. The prevailing whim is to dip the straw into gold paint.
Every designer seems to have at least one pair of gauntlets with straw cuffs. And at Christian Lacroix's presentation, the big-brimmed farmer-style hats glistened with their lacquer finish. Even the metal fastenings on his handbags were shaped like wrapped strands of straw.
At Jean-Louis Scherrer's show, the tops of evening gowns were beautifully composed of natural raffia interspersed with wooden beads. At Dior, Gianfranco Ferre even managed to create a sleeveless jacket out of a large-brimmed straw hat. It cannot be described; it has to be seen.
For the Chanel collection Karl Lagerfeld goes a step further, sheer skirts with the hems painstakingly shredded to flutter like straws in the wind.