Tartan checks, boxy shorts and perfecto jackets met sheer silks and fluid silhouettes in Paris on Wednesday as designers played a boy-girl game with their looks for next spring.
The Belgian Dries Van Noten, who drew a glitterati crowd as the first big name of the nine-day Paris fashion shows, returned to his favoured masculine-feminine hunting ground, but with a tartan twist.
"It's more masculine, more couture and more grunge," the designer told AFP backstage after the show. "Ultra-feminine couture and masculine grunge."
Lumberjack checks formed the backbone of the collection, with a shiny silver tartan spelled out on a pencil skirt, boxy shorts or a waistcoat.
Van Noten confidently matched tartan checks of different hues or textures, like thick white and blue on the pants and sheer red and blue for the blouse.
And the designer paired tartan with delicate Japanese-inspired floral prints, like on a light-as-air spaghetti-strap dress, with wine red check at the front and pale turquoise print at the back.
Billowing floor-length capes in floral-print sheer silk were laid over tartan pants and long-sleeved blouses, glimpsed in transparency beneath.
Or the designer cut the sleeves and back of a navy blue coat from sheer red-and-blue tartan silk.
The French designer Alexis Mabille also played on the masculine and feminine -- but here the look was more "boyfriend", with outsized shirts cinched at the waist to accentuate the silhouette.
Checks also defined the collection, but this time it was gingham, in pale pink, blue or black, cut into blouses, skirts, drawstring-waisted dresses or pants -- and paired with clumpy black boots for a slightly punky look.
Fresh from New York where he showed his latest line for Lacoste, the Portuguese designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista brought Paris a collection full of boyish nods, that borrowed from the worlds of hip-hop and street art.
Baggy BMX-inspired pants alternated with ultra-short dresses, with lots of asymmetric cuts and monochrome silhouettes -- in camouflage hues of olive green or navy, with slashes and cut outs revealing flashes of skin here and there.
The camouflage theme resurfaced -- its dappling reworked as large geometric panes -- on a series of mini dresses, their colours and patterns growing wilder as the show neared its finale.
The Croatian-born Damir Doma also played on a his-hers register, pairing fluid silks with military-inspired coats and perfecto detailing.
Boxy, wide bermuda pants in buttery tan leather came with matching sleeveless tunic, modelled with hands thrust into deep pockets, while desert pants in billowing blue silk rippled under a structured white jacket.
Other looks were sweetly feminine, like wispy little silk dresses circled by wide, samurai-like belts beneath the ribs.
The German-raised, Paris-based Doma, who just opened his first own-name store in the capital, edited his palette right down, working with blacks, navies and white, lifted by panes of olive, splashes of turquoise, sapphire and rust.
"I wanted a collection full of power," the designer, better known for loose, flowing silhouettes, explained backstage.
Rochas went for a look more classically feminine, whisking Paris to the American 1950s with retro bikinis in pastel mint or rose, their wide pants and pointed bra cups worn beneath short-sleeved capes in matching hues.
Round sunshades, wide silk hairbands and white leather lace-up boxing boots set the tone as the label's Italian designer Marco Zanini sent out lustrous taffetas tunics with demure high collars and short wide sleeves, above short skirts or wide-legged pants.
Bare midriffs peeped out from between bikini sets, or bolero tops and skirts with giant pleats swelling from the hips, in pale mauve or watery green, and for evening, in black or floral-patterned fuchsia.
Slinkier looks included a satin sheath dress in pale silver, or a floor-swishing sheer skirt with fine sunburst pleats, under a cream bra top and body-hugging little cardigan.