Dark and gloomy sad rags are the way to shine in Paris


PARIS -- The sober side of fashion is surfacing with surprising force here, and not just on the runways. The Parisian avant-garde has always turned out in wraith-like black, but now young women all over Paris are wearing a "uniform" of long, narrow skirts or skinny pants accessorized with chunky, mannish shoes or equally clunky boots.

Meanwhile, at the shows in the Louvre courtyard, many spectators are already sporting their versions of next fall's somber style.

Katell le Bourhis, the curator of the Louvre's costume institute, usedto favor short bouffant skirts, bright colors and impressive costume jewelry.

Her look has metamorphosed into the long, narrow and serious silhouette. Just-above-the-ankle hemlines call attention to her Doc Martens. And her only jewel is a chaste cross at the throat.

Even Chanel loyalists like Linda Wells, the editor in chief of Allure, have switched.

Ms. Wells is taking in the shows in a navy blue redingote flowing open over a dark gray vest and trousers, accessorized with only a crystal cross closing the high white shirt collar -- and her new diamond engagement ring.

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