COUTURE: Von Teese at Gaultier, Paz Vega hits Saab

AP News
Posted: Jan 22, 2014 5:44 PM

PARIS (AP) — Long hours of fastidious couture burst out onto the catwalks for Wednesday's dramatic fall-winter 2014 shows, collections that provoked applause, gasps and cheers. One fashion journalist fell off the stage trying to speak to Jean Paul Gaultier.

Here are the highlights of the day:


Guests at the Jean Paul Gaultier show gasped when American burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese walked out for a cameo appearance at this haute couture show in a death-defying small corset.

The diminutive brunette's body looked distorted in the tightly laced blue green bodice that cinched even her tiny 22-inch waist. The corset flourished with a butterfly embellishment that Gaultier said was inspired by seeing mounted butterflies in a shop on a recent trip to London.

Gaultier is no stranger to corset and became world famous for putting Madonna in one 1990, as part of her "Blond Ambition Tour."


An incredible hand-painted set with butterflies and foliage met guests at Valentino's encyclopedic couture show, thanks to collaboration with Rome Opera House.

Valentino can always be counted on to produce the most archetypally couture show of the season.

Here their army of indefatigable Italian seamstresses — the "petites mains" — spent sometimes up to 2,500 hours of embroidery time on just one garment, according to the program notes. And it showed in the delicacy of the gowns.

Medieval images of fawns, mixed with youthful frothy tutus, silken cream Asian pajama suits, a bronze Celtic pattern and even a Grecian toga dress in alabaster white with an enviable cape attached to the sleeves.

If references were myriad, one thing held it all together: luxury. From dentelle lace, to natural tussah silk, feathers, pearls and crystals — this collection shimmered.


Elie Saab used the delicate colors of turn-of-the-century painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema as a starting point of his show.

It pushed the Lebanese designer, who's better known for traditional red carpet traffic-stoppers, to produce an unusually subtle show.

There were, of course, the predictable bread-and-butter cinched silhouettes.

But the collection achieved a rare mood which evoked the progression of day: From the blush pinks of dawn, the pure white of high noon, the purples of dusk, and then to resolution in midnight black.

There was also a nostalgia for yesteryear.

Impressive crinolines appeared on several looks, all with the traditional couture embellishments, harking back to the styles the 1950s Hollywood actresses.

Several looks would not have looked out of place on Grace Kelly.

Appropriately from the front row applauded Spanish actress Paz Vega in a black Saar skirt suit, who stars in the upcoming biopic "Grace of Monaco."


If the irreverent French designer was aiming for design transformations Wednesday, after recent lukewarm show reviews, channeling chrysalises and butterflies was not it.

Jean Paul Gaultier always makes for one of the most exciting couture shows of the season— admired in equal measure for its celebrity appearances as for the endearing positive energy the exudes personally.

And here there was plenty of vibrancy: Butterfly sleeves, peaked shoulders, leather evening gloves, see-through lace pants, conical bras, feathers in the hair and a bride who looked like a showgirl.

But the recurring imagery of butterflies shapes — large butterfly hats and organza dresses shaped like two butterflies was sometimes overused, at times cluttering the otherwise beautiful silhouette.

There were great ideas, like netting in skirts to evoke a butterfly catch.

Still, the best looks, like one single orange coral butterfly blouse whose little organza ruffles seemed to flutter, were often the simplest.


Thomas Adamson can be followed at