Equestrian inspiration

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 October, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 October, 1994, 12:00am

MAKING a name for himself as a top-quality menswear designer was not enough for Frenchman Dominique Morlotti. He decided, a few years ago, to turn his talents to women's wear as well.

For the French house of Lanvin, Morlotti has taken his proficiency with men's tailoring and applied it to the more complicated task of fashion for women.

Since leaving the menswear department of rival fashion house Christian Dior to join Lanvin, he has proved repeatedly that he is as well-equipped to design dresses as anyone with a background in women's wear.

A great fan of simplicity, Morlotti has avoided extremities.

He has consistently chosen easy-fitting clothes that flatter the figure - neat, tidy and wearable.

This is typified in his collection for the current season. There are none of the corsets and tiny pleated mini-skirts that mark other designer collections.

Morlotti has chosen the equestrian theme.

There is nothing off-beat or impractical about it, because the riding jacket and jodhpur has re-surfaced in a number of other labels and is part of a return to country-inspired dressing.

But the Morlotti touch is that much more defined. One-button ankle-length coats in baba llama or cotton velvet are worn over suede thigh-high boots, dark tights and short, slim taffeta skirts.

There is gentle detailing on the back of short frock coats and, for evening, impeccably cut taffeta mini-dresses.

A potentially harsh look is avoided by soft touches like shirt dresses, sheer blouses in voile with oversized colours and velvet waistcoats.

These are clothes that are as romantic as they are grown-up, as crisp as they are feminine.

Morlotti admits having had teething problems when first trying out women's wear but, after several increasingly successful seasons, he appears to have the situation sewn up; he is taking more risks, experimenting with leather and lace and silk crepe, or combining layers of different textures for silky embroidered evening wear.

Fabrics like faille or taffeta are overlaid with tulle and organza, and there are some silver and gold sheath dresses.

Colours stray a little from establishment black, grey and navy blue to include burnished red and orange, but combinations of the different shades are tasteful.

And it is equally good to see that Morlotti has not lost his touch for men's suits either: he has given his jackets either three or four buttons for daytime and evening dressing, while sports jackets are roomier and less restrictive.

Shirts have long collars and carefully rounded points, and trousers are also a little baggier than in previous seasons.