Fashion

With sales of haute couture up by 35 per cent and an unusually high number of designers participating in this year's shows, it seems the made-to-measure industry is booming. Among the offerings presented at Dior was this stunning voluminous net ballgown
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The first night focus was also on Giorgio Armani, who was joined by The Queen actress Helen Mirren as he unveiled a range celebrating 35 years in the industry
Photo: Getty Images

The Armani collection revisited many of the designer's classic silhouettes, including the trouser suit here transformed into a stunning evening outfit comprising black velvet tuxedo trousers and pearl string cape
Photo: Getty Images

Stellar kick off to haute couture shows from Dior and Armani

1 JULY 2008
Paris once again became the epicentre of the fashion universe this week as the haute couture shows got underway. Oscar winner Helen Mirren, actress Eva Mendes and Janet Jackson were just some of the big names checking out the glorious creations destined for the wardrobes of an elite handful of extremely wealthy women. And they had chosen a good moment to go along, as this is shaping up to be the busiest haute couture week or several seasons.

An unusually high total of 23 designers are scheduled to take part, including the first Chinese courier to show in Paris.

Firmly in the spotlight on day one, however, was Giorgio Armani, who presented a collection which celebrates his 35 years in the industry.

A-list guests, including the youngest daughter of the Thai crown prince, Princess Siriwannawari Nariratana, watched as the Italian maestro presented a collection which revisited many of his signature silhouettes. The classic trouser suit, for instance, made a return, with elements incorporated into cocktail and eveningwear.

One standout piece reflected by the mirrored runway was of a pair of high-waisted black velvet tuxedo trousers teamed with a fitted cape affair made of strings of pearls. A daringly cut cocktail dress, slashed from bodice to hip, was another highlight.

Across town John Galliano unveiled a fresh collection for Dior. The range, which he describes as "couture in a contemporary way", featured strong, elegant shapes which placed emphasis firmly on aesthetics.

The first half of the presentation took a monochrome approach, with one show-stealing piece - a voluminous inky-hued ballgown studded with crystals - conjuring up images of a modern day sorceress. Princess ballgowns in fondant colours of pink, pistachio, cream and lilac followed. And among them was one with a twist; a sheer chiffon outer silhouette parting to reveal a figure-hugging gown beneath.