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Gaultier channels Winehouse, stars shop for Oscars

By Thomas Adamson

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 25 2012 4:41 p.m. MST

But the designer still had his eye on the trends: one beautiful full circle dress in pink tulle and black lace ensured the show kept pace with the in-vogue 1950s shapes that have filled the catwalk this season.

In the finale, all the models filed past in sweeping black silk veils, a bittersweet statement for a show (and life) filled with fun.

YIQING YIN

She-wolves whimpered as designer Yiqing Yin introduced the svelte world of their more glamorous cousins, the she-foxes.

The pack of journalists ensured the heat was on for the Chinese-born couturier to impress in her first official haute couture showing.

And Yin didn't fail: introducing a new fascinating couture technique of fox fur shaving — alongside a skilled demonstration of embroidery and her signature draping.

Patchy silver and blue frost fox fur was meshed onto tulle in several pieces, serving as a second skin next to sexily exposed bare flesh.

A raw elemental mood defined the show.

In one top, silk and metal gauze blurred the face of a fierce old man sculpted in sisal netting, as if tousled by wind.

Ice swept through another piece: a sparkling jacket, embroidered with Swarovski crystals.

At one point, the young designer had the audience gasping in delight, or perhaps for breath, when a model in a full body veil of powder blue silk with assorted skirts appeared like a giant air bubble.

The designer still has a lot to prove, but this collection might have blown her some of the way.

VALENTINO

Is life just a dream? It certainly seemed to be in the diaphanous, white and haunting spring-summer collection from Valentino that ended Paris' haute couture week.

Models in sparkling lace choker collars and long smocked taffeta dresses appeared like ghosts, floating through the show's neoclassical venue.

For fans of couture, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli's creations were an instant hit. But they weren't the real stars of the show.

The program notes ensured that the "petites mains" — the old Italian seamstresses, many of whom have been with the house for decades — were credited.

One strapless gown with embroidered beads and adornments, it read, took 850 hours to make. Another 1,200 hours. Even without that detail, it didn't fail to astonish revelers as it swept past with its long train.

A full dress in soft-white invisible tulle was perfected with small lace gloves that wrapped around just two fingers.

The show's only downside was its dependence on white — something that was broken up in the last spring-summer collection with flashes of scarlet.

"Yes, there is no red, and it was a complete accident," said Chiuri in a strong Italian accent. "I woke up this morning and realized: Oh dear, I forgot the red!"

Paris' ready-to-wear fall-winter collections begin on February 28.

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