Spring-summer couture shows blossomed into focus Monday — parading their silken, and often sexy, savoir faire to front rows spilling with celebrities from Uma Thurman, Kate Bosworth to Rita Ora.
Here are the highlights of the 2016 collections.
It shocked the fashion world in October when Dior’s latest star designer Raf Simons resigned.
Many were baffled, since it came just a few months after the release of the highly-publicised documentary, Dior and I, which explored the Belgian-born designer’s beginnings at the iconic Parisian house.
Christian Dior’s first couture show since Simons left took place on Monday — designed, the house said, by “the studio.”
A group of unnamed atelier designers came out at the end of the valiant job-well-done to take a deserved bow.
It was against the rather symbolic decor of 360-degree, identity-less mirrors.
Dior is currently searching for a new designer — their third in 5 years. Simons had replaced John Galliano after he was sacked amid controversy in 2011.
US Vogue fashion doyenne Anna Wintour, former French first lady Bernadette Chirac and Chinese actress Liu Yifei were among celebrities on the pared-down front row of the show held in an annex inside the picturesque Rodin Museum gardens.
In the clothes, the “spontaneous, relaxed Parisienne of today” mixed with the iconic styles of the 1940s and 1950s.
High-cut post-War shoes with occasional retro ankle bows accessorised embroidered silk gowns in freestyle volumes — often with “sensual, bare” accentuated shoulders. A couple of flapper-style lace, chiffon and tulle look also evoked the joyful feeling of the 1920s — the period between the two World Wars.
The studio team also set about experimenting with the famed “bar jacket” — it “changes appearance depending on whether it is worn closed or loose,” said the program notes.
It thus came in myriad forms: in tight, embroidered black wool, loose and white, open to expose the breast sensually, oversized and masculine, or as a beautiful dark navy wool coat.
There were also traces of the historical musings of past creative directors — such as Galliano and Simons — set off nicely in one look off-white wool “bar” jacket interpretation with flappy 18th-century cuffs.
“I was born with a body to manifest my power,” boomed the soundtrack to Donatella Versace’s flesh-baring and architectural couture show.
It was a feminism of sorts — Versace-style — a collection of 46 assertive looks that seemed to say a woman’s body can be a force to be reckoned with.
Sporty white skirt and pantsuits began the collection with dangerous flashes of primary red and yellow, giving way to floor length light turquoise and blue silk gowns gathered sometimes in strong rope-like sections.
Then the Italian designer got creative — exploring the metaphor that a body — like a building — can be a strong, architectural structure.
Interlocking panels, and, as the program notes described, cinch waisted dresses “caged by cutouts,” gave a steely strength to the sometimes 6-foot-tall models.
While, a white jumpsuit with draped back was held by a harness of hand-embroidered micro-paillettes.
“I believe women can be powerful and achieve their dreams while also having great elegance and beauty,” the 60-year-old designer said.
“This is a collection for all women who walk their own path.”
All eyes were on British singer Ora who arrived at the Versace Atelier show to a flurry of paparazzi flashes.
The 25-year-old star wore a red cut-out mini dress — with invisible underwear — and sandals inspired by the Italian house’s spring-summer 2016 collection.
“I love Versace,” she purred from the front row in a carpeted pavilion in Paris’ exclusive Place Vendome.
Actress Bosworth — who sported an elegant chignon — hit the Schiaparelli front row on Monday, taking her seat next to pop singer, model, and former French First Lady Carla Bruni — distracting some by talking on her cell phone.
In the collection, designer Bertrand Guyon continued to explore the fascinating universe of couturier Elsa Schiaparelli in his sophomore outing for the house.
On the creative menu at the Monday morning show was fashion gastronomy.
It was an interesting way showcase the eccentricity of the vivacious “Schiap,” as she was known, who loved eating well.
Crockery lined the walls of the show venue, as daywear looks inspired by the table — such as botanical diagrams and vegetable prints — opened the show on light, sporty skirt suits.
At times, it worked well — but occasionally the ideas translated too obviously, like one cream floorlength gown based on a red striped tablecloth motif with plates on it.
The collection experienced a crescendo however as the looks moved into the evening.
By then, fashionistas could almost hear their stomachs rumbling.
RALPH & RUSSO
Proving there are serious contenders in the couture calendar, relative newcomers Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo are drawing the big names to their collections. Pulp Fiction star Thurman set off the cameras naps arriving in a LBD and silk shawl at the Monday afternoon show.
The youthful-looking 45-year-old is in the City of Light to attend a private dinner hosted by the couture house and by French jewellery brand Chopoard.
The house say the event will be “celebrating the finest savoir-faire” of couture — and will include a musical performance by Ora.
A strong ‘60s influence infused Giambattista Valli’s vision for spring — as ever, served up in a long line of cocktail dresses and floor length gowns.
A silk jacquard cocktail dress in two-tone grey sported a tight retro bodice and A-line mini.
Another silk crepe dress with delicate embroidered flowers had voluminous organza ruffles at the sleeve that evoked the silhouette of a bolero jacket, also popular in that era.
As the looks progressed, the dresses got more structural — riffing off the Empire Line silhouette, in one instance on a dress in printed lily of the valley with a tight, embroidered paillette bustier.
The floor-sweeping draped silk mousseline dresses at the end of the collection also evoked the delicate Romanticism of this early 19th-century style.