c.2013 New York Times News Service

c.2013 New York Times News Service

PARIS ó It isnít because they are women that Clare Waight Keller of Chloť and Stella McCartney have designed some of the sanest clothes for spring. It is because they arenít beholden to a female archetype. They can design based on instinct.

Waight Kellerís exceedingly calm collection of pleated and silk cloquť dresses in pure white, water green and deep blue let in some much needed air. Thereís been way too much theory going around in fashion ó and too many slobbery details. She stripped all that away and focused instead on a summery line that floats over the body. Also in the mix were cool knits and shorts knotted at the sides.

In outfit after outfit, McCartney and her all-female design team blazed a separate path for themselves. No fuzzy ethnic looks here, no ubiquitous pleats (oops, she did that last year), no modern-art shenanigans. Clearly she considered what was true to her aesthetic, and how to be straight (and a little seductive) about it.

There was a clean, slim pantsuit in navy or pink-beige; a lovely silver-flecked, daisy jacquard in black or chili red used for moderately flared skirts and other separates; and a simple (read: hard to find) pale pink pajama-style shirt with a full silk skirt with a striped waistband.

And she had her sporty things, like cropped knit pants and matching V-neck top, but the cut was now refined. Her finale was in lace and satin. Again, the shapes were easy, feminine. And over one satin dress she had a longish, zippered utility jacket, which is just the sort of thing youíd like to throw over your party stuff.

Audiences seem to love Chitose Abe of Sacai because she creates couture shapes, or just plain funny shapes, out of common things. Fine, but what if she had fewer fabrics at her disposal? She could probably create more genuinely satisfying clothes, like the airy shifts she showed Monday, or track pants in glen plaid, with the front side delicately perforated.

Guests for Givenchy arrived to see a pile of smoking luxury sedans, their windows broken. Itís the sort of background image that one sees on the TV news from a crisis zone: an older Mercedes run into the ground or caught in a cross-fire of bullets.

Cultural collisions are nothing new in fashion; they happen at least once a day in Paris. Tribal Africa is big this season. But, like his sweeping gesture with the cars, Riccardo Tisci didnít explore the genre in any depth. The many draped dresses and tops in earth tones and burnt orange are not all that different from the kind of thing Donna Karan has done for years. Also, there was a group of black jackets and slim skirts, Japanese-inspired, that seemed to come out of nowhere. And I couldnít understand the construction of the jackets. Why so many parts?

Once you unpacked the collection, there were some good-looking trousers with contrasting panels and a few lovely beaded dresses, cut to the bone. But mostly one found souvenirs.

With the hem of a white miniskirt parted in front and rolled back to form a triangle over black shorts, there could be no mistake that Giambattista Valli had the pudenda in mind. Other skirts were slit up to the spot; with some delicately patterned organza dresses, he included black underpants and a bra.

He broke away from these follies to show some real clothes, like smart-looking slim skirts and shell tops in parchment hues and a spree of violet pansy prints. Thatís Valliís typical patch. Still, there was nothing wrong with a white organza dress with red pinstripes down the front and back that a woman, on her own, couldnít resolve.