Paris Frill Seekers

Designers try to steer a new course through fashion doldrums with collections that flounce, flow and flatter

Like the quintessential boredĀ French shopgirl, the fashion world has fallen into a daze--lulled by expensive handbags, too many peasant blouses and endless low-rise jeans. Even Miuccia Prada's bookish cardigan-and-pleated-skirt look, which caused a splash a mere 18 months ago, feels old. Everyone has done it now.

So when the thousands of journalists, magazine editors and department- and specialty-store buyers from around the world trekked to Paris last week for the spring 2006 collections, they were looking for more than the safe, crisp poplin trench coats and soft sleeveless dresses many designers were offering. They wanted to be worked into a lather...

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