Naomi Campbell steals show at couture as Carla Bruni is mobbed

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PARIS — Singer Carla Bruni, actress Catherine Deneuve and burlesque performer Dita Von Teese were among regulars attending the spectacular displays at Paris' haute couture week Wednesday.

Sophie Hunter, the fiancée of Oscar-nominee Benedict Cumberbatch, meanwhile, caused much fracas when she attended Valentino hiding her baby bump.

But it was surely Naomi Campbell who stole the show, strutting out panther-like at Jean Paul Gaultier despite being dressed as a bouquet of flowers. It's good to know that high fashion still retains its humor.

Here are the tidbits and highlights of the 2015 spring-summer collections.

CARLA BRUNI MOBBED, THEN CELEBRATED

Unaccompanied Bruni was mobbed by intrusive cameramen upon entering the Jean Paul Gaultier collection.

As she arrived at the top of the venue's marble steps the scrum grew, she panicked, calling out: "Where do I go? Where is the show?"

The 47-year-old former French first lady then physically forced one of the lenses away from her face.

Once in her front row seat, the mood changed — and she was seen to be enjoying herself. There were even cheers when her 2002 hit "Quelqu'un m'a dit" was played in the show soundtrack.

"It's completely understandable I love her songs and it was perfect," said Gaultier, unaware of the scuffle.

LIFE AFTER READY-TO-WEAR

Jean Paul Gaultier chose to explore marriage in white — and divorce, in black — for his first couture show after the end of his ready-to-wear line.

The obvious symbolism was renewal, or change — after bidding an emotional goodbye last season to his over-three-decade long "pret-a-porter" career.

But there was no soul searching whatsoever in this infectious and imaginative show.

Burlesque star Von Teese and Eurovision Song contest winner Conchita Wurst were among celebrity guests escorted to sections named after wedding anniversaries: amethyst for 6 years, jade for 12 years, emerald for 20 years — and the unromantic-sounding granite, for the near-impossible 90-year-celebration.

Gaultier, ever the optimist, said that the end of the ready-to-wear had given him more time to "perfect the techniques and the work of the atelier, which was unbelievable" — such as a trompe l'oeil dress resembling python skins, which was, in reality, embroidered silk knots.

Whatever this aging enfant terrible does, one thing is a constant: Fun.

GAULTIER GOES TO THE CHAPEL

The show, almost exclusively in black and white, was a tale of two silhouettes — with many dresses split down the middle.

The best look was a figure-hugging black crepe number with another gown, in trompe l'oeil 3-D hourglass tulle, placed creatively on the front.

The 62-year-old designer said show celebrated "all forms of marriage, and for all ages, and as many times as you want... And, yes divorce."

This mantra was resoundingly clear: in his signature menswear tuxedos (representing gay marriage) and in the inclusion of models up to their 60s; a common theme.

The divorce element appeared as a comic homage to the infamous seven weddings of actress Liz Taylor — with a blue python dress and feathered hair piece, modelled theatrically.

The couturier said, in an aside, that divorce and multiple marriages may indeed help boost couture dress sales.

Silhouettes were often graphic, with more than an echo of his Eighties heyday.

It might have benefited more if Monsieur Gaultier had used this fresh chapter in his career to do something completely different — but in all, it was a joyful collection.

VALENTINO'S CHAGALL-INSPIRED COUTURE

It was a strong couture collection from Valentino's Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli that moved gracefully from the dense, geometric embroideries of Hungarian styles to the bright colors and cosmic dreaming of Russian artist Marc Chagall.

But the high point of the show was surely the final flourish of diaphanous powder-colored gowns with chic embroidered writing. They were aptly called "tulle clouds" and felt at once both couture and highly contemporary.

Valentino Garavani looked on approvingly from the front row, as some 47 looks filed by inside the chic Hotel de Rothschild.

The designers did not do away with their signature Empire lines and continued their ongoing musings in the traditional flowing silks and silhouettes of the Renaissance.

But the muse of Chagall served well as a spring board to liberate the occasionally-stiff designs.

Here the duo explored bolder colors such a vibrant "Chagall blue," cut with primary yellow. Elsewhere, hand painted prints such as a sun, sky and stars — beautifully evoked the naturalized-French artist's famed stained glass windows.

ELIE SAAB'S DELICATE COUP

Elie Saab moved in a welcome direction in Wednesday's delicately feminine display — inspired, apparently, by the nostalgia of his mother's Seventies heyday.

In a fleshed out program book, the Lebanese designer touchingly went back in time through text and photos, tracing the fashions throughout the eras of his birth city, Beirut — once graced by such stars as singer Dalida, actor Omar Sharif and French icon Brigitte Bardot.

It particular, Saab described the impact of the last golden years of glamor before the protracted Civil war in 1975, through the prism of a tulip print silk dress his mother would often wear.

Flesh pink, beige, black and blue-grays abounded in floaty, nostalgic silhouettes that touched on these moments.

"These memories still inspire my colors and my scents... The 70's, women in ankle length dresses, trapeze dresses, high waist skirts, embroidered and sheer tops wading through downtown," said Saab.

Fastidiously embroidered ruffles on full skirts and diaphanous feathers gave this 55-piece show a more textural quality than normal.

And embroidered, shimmering flared pants made it securely on-trend.


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

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