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Runway Review: Paris Couture Weeks Kicks Off With Versace and Dior!

The streets of Paris may be covered with the slushy aftermath of a winter storm, but inside the venues of this week’s couture shows, it would appear that the Spring season is alive and well.  Haute Couture Week is in full swing today, with both Versace Atelier and Christian Dior debuting their Fall collections to an exclusive A-list crowd of celebrities, editors and fashion influencers.  The fashion extravaganza got its start last night in the grand setting of the L’Hotel Le Bristol, where Donatella Versace returned to the couture catwalk with an overtly glamorous affair say sexy dressing at its finest.  In a homecoming of sorts, ’90s supermodel Kristen McMenamy returned to the Versace runway to open the show in a sharp pinstripe pantsuit complete with 24 carat gold piping and shoulder pad details.  While challenging traditional notions of haute elegance and conventional chic, Donatella presented an array of striking daywear seen at its finest in the forms of a form-fitting shealth with modern cutout cascading down the middle of the torso and decorated with black fox fur epaulets at the shoulders. Also of note, a rose pink leather moto jacket and pleat skirt constructed with alternating strips of paillettes details.  While last season’s couture offerings played host to a dazzling selection of long, delicate chiffon gowns, this season looked towards more unconventional forms of tailoring, opting for short-in-front/long-in-back silhouettes done in neon Latex and patent leather.  At first glance the designer’s trapeze-style minidresses appeared futuristic and off-beat, but it was Donatella’s use of chain mail hardware, strong shoulders and expert cut-outs where the house’s famed Romanesque beauty was found.  When paired with the slick back hair and intense smokey emerald green eyes of models Karlie Kloss, Joan Smalls, Jacquelyn JablonskiLindsey Wixson and show closer Stella Tennant, Donatella made a case for haute fashion fun this Spring.

Of course, the season’s most buzzed about show belonged to Raf Simons, who proved today at the Tuileries Garden for front row staples Natalia Vodianova, Carin Roitfeld and Laetitia Casta that last season’s well-received showing could not be reduced to beginner’s luck.  As models Kinga Rajzak, Julia NobisSigrid Agren and Zuzanna Bijoch navigated their way through the mirrored tent and hedge-lined runway, it became clear that Simons grasp of the label’s storied Parisian elegance and his own modernist ways had collided in the best possible way.  Inspired by the “very idea of spring,” Simons presented a delicate array of gleaming bell-shaped skirts, all the while reworking those iconic Dior Bar jackets, some strapless, worn over cigarette pants or ruched cocktail dresses.  Taking last season’s well-tailored ’50s influenced silhouettes a step further, Simons adorned his Spring offerings with pops of bold tangerine and neon yellow, three-dimensional floral appliques and embroideries cut across a sleeveless capelet and blooming hand-painted floral prints seen on puffy cocktail dresses.  The clothes were complex, beautiful and like Dior itself, full of life.

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