As the notion of déclinisme (a generally pessimistic malaise) continues to preoccupy the French (if they’re not feeling it, they’re thinking about it), Véronique Leroy decided to pull a Woody Allen: Confront it head-on with a clever wink. A déclassé woman is not everyone’s idea of a muse. But Leroy was intrigued enough by the codes conveyed in Blue Jasmine that she wanted to explore them her way. One identifiable bourgeois trope, the classic color contrast of black and champagne, took shape as a soigné top and skirt pairing in compact crepe rather than knit. Leroy bonded finely braided cotton onto denim or fishnet to produce a micro-chain-link pattern with the textural dimension of flocking. Embroideries of irregular shapes came close to tweed without imitating it, and placing patch pockets at a diagonal signaled that these clothes were strategically askew. And because this woman no longer bore the weight of noblesse oblige, her sheer bow blouses could be as risqué as they were demure.

Glorified chain accessories are so inextricably linked to Chanel that Leroy couldn’t resist interpreting them more literally as oversize chains randomly wrapped in rope. And the double entendre didn’t end there: The soundtrack included a remix of Prokofiev’s “Dance of the Knights,” used for Chanel’s Égoïste fragrance campaign.

For Leroy, a statement loaded with such sensitive subtext could only be made by keeping silhouettes clean and simple; an asymmetric hemstitch was as challenging as it got. Anyone who doesn’t attempt a deeper reading will simply see a coherent collection that is not as safe as first impressions might suggest.

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