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Anti-fur protest, mad couture, celebrity concerts hit fashion shows in Paris

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PARIS — As couture week in Paris entered its final furlong, the French capital was electrified by celebrity concerts and eccentric, creative designs. But Karl Lagerfeld's fur-only couture show for Fendi provoked disruptive animal-rights protests.

Here are the highlights of the fall-winter 2015-16 shows on Wednesday, including Jean Paul Gaultier, Viktor & Rolf and Elie Saab.


GAULTIER GOES BRETON

The Breton stripe, as worn by sailors, has become synonymous with Jean Paul Gaultier over the years (alongside the conical bra.)

So Wednesday's fall-winter couture collection — inspired by the French region of Brittany — seemed like a wholly natural place for the French designer.

The results were more theatre than couture. But the exuberant couturier produced a highly infectious presentation, replete with an entire traditional Breton orchestra performing bagpipes on the runway, crepe-makers handing out delights and one model marching theatrically down in a giant patchwork couture explosion with a tube wig that had one guest weeping with laughter.

The collection saw lashings of Breton stripes, in blue and white tights, sheer black velvet blouses — and traditional lace Breton tube hats in exaggerated heights.

The Celtic Circle defined many of the silhouettes — appearing as giant circle skirts often embroidered in traditional patterns — and one gold show-stopper with black feather fringing.

Catherine Deneuve applauded enthusiastically from the front row alongside American actress Michelle Rodriguez.

"I've loved Gaultier since I was in my twenties," Rodriguez told The Associated Press. "He's just got always that edge, you know? He's like an artist and he's never scared."


STAR-STUDDED PARTIES ELECTRIFY PARIS FASHION WEEK

Rival celebrity-filled soirees pulled fashionistas in different directions Tuesday night — with the hip-hop fans hitting a concert by Lauryn Hill in a storied Parisian mansion and pop fans heading to Lancome's 80th birthday celebrations capped with a performance by Kylie Minogue.

Designer Tory Burch hosted the first soiree of the evening, a garden party in the courtyard of the 17th-century Hotel de Sully near the iconic Place des Vosges. It was Moroccan-themed with pillowed areas on the grass, a tent area where hungry guests lounged on the ground, eating couscous and sipping cocktails. Crowds went wild for Hill, who gave an electrifying performance of some of her greatest hits including "Ex Factor." Jessica Alba was among celebrity attendees.

Later, Australian pop princess Minogue got people dancing with a glitter-filled performance for Lancome — singing hits such as "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" and ending with a breathy rendition of "Happy Birthday."

Among those at the soiree in an old Pigalle theatre were Lancome ambassadors Penelope Cruz, Lupita Nyong'o, Kate Winslet and Julia Roberts. Actress Isabella Rossellini appeared delighted by Kylie's performance, smiling throughout.


FENDI FUR-ONLY SHOW PROVOKES ANTI-FUR PROTEST

Karl Lagerfeld has spent his more than 50-year career provoking.

And, true to form, for the 81-year-old couturier's 50th anniversary celebration as designer of Rome-based Fendi, he sent down the catwalk some two dozen couture creations, each made of fur.

Some dozen animals donated their skins, including Persian lamb, Astrakhan, bison and mink.

PHOTO: A dancing model wears a creation for French designer Franck Sorbier's fall-winter 2015/2016 Haute Couture fashion collection presented in Paris, France, Wednesday, July 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A dancing model wears a creation for French designer Franck Sorbier's fall-winter 2015/2016 Haute Couture fashion collection presented in Paris, France, Wednesday, July 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

Security was high.

The animal-rights Brigitte Bardot Foundation claimed responsibility for disruption — when an unnamed woman, dressed in a fur coat, ripped it off outside the venue to reveal beneath a shocking bloodied body suit, with breasts visible.

Other animal rights activists tried to storm the gate unsuccessfully.

Bardot, the French cinema star turned animal rights activist, has previously sparked controversy with the fur-indulgent designer, by penning a letter to his cat, Choupette, imploring the feline to stop its owner using fur in his Fendi collections.

The exclusive Wednesday evening collection — in the Theatre du Champs-Elysees — went on as scheduled, and was praised by the fashion press.

It was highly imaginative — mixing feathers and shaved fur to create new three-dimensional textures in coats, against a backdrop of a surreal painting by artist Giorgio De Chirico.

It was the first couture show the storied Italian house has ever done, celebrating Lagerfeld's creative tenure of the brand, which began in 1965.


VIKTOR & ROLF ANSWER COUTURE'S MOST EXISTENTIAL QUESTION

Should fashion be considered art? That existential debate has gone on for decades.

Dutch duo Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren tried to put the question to rest by wrapping their latest couture creations in giant picture frames and blank canvasses — an ingenious, creative and hilarious idea.

The bespectacled designers stood at the foot of the white, sanitized catwalk holding squashed white-framed canvass shapes crushed into abstract, often A-line, skirts. A model would appear, wearing nothing but a plain loose indigo minidress, and get "framed" by the designers, who fitted her into the skirt.

Beyond getting fashionistas chuckling, they produced some very thought-provoking looks — like a jagged trapeze shape with one arm out and the other arm's hand jutting wonkily up like a cubist work of art.

Then blue and other colors were splashed on the canvasses, which developed gilded, gold frames.

The show was a work of art — but was it wearable fashion?


ELIE SAAB'S PRINCESSES

All the colors of Rapunzel's sleepy, overgrown magical tower featured in the Lebanese designer's subdued couture collection Wednesday.

Long lace column gowns had glimmering organic embroideries that seemed to have delicately grown up on them like the plants and vines in the fairytale princess's tower. Sheer tulle sections in the skirts and torso played on transparency, evoking the three-dimensionality of flora.

Saab made sure his color palette this season mirrored this — doing away with his bread-and-butter, traffic-stopping bright gowns for a softer color wheel.

Gold and silver embroidered dresses captured the hues of metal. Elsewhere, nude pink evoked flesh, pale terre verte the plants, and beige and black, the Earth.

The models, who wore organic golden crowns, made it clear this indeed was a collection aimed at women who see themselves as princesses.


Thomas Adamson can be followed at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: A demonstrator is helped by another activist after he fainted during a clash with the police in Paris, France, Wednesday, July 8, 2015. Animal rights activists staged a protest against designer Karl Lagerfeld's fur-only couture show for Fendi on Wednesday. The animal-rights Brigitte Bardot Foundation claimed responsibility for disruption — when an unnamed woman, dressed in a fur coat, ripped it off outside the venue to reveal beneath a shocking bloodied body suit, with breasts visible. Other animal rights activists tried to storm the gate unsuccessfully. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
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