A 'Cage aux Folles' theme ran through Jean-Paul Gaultier's show in intricately constructed feather capes accompanying the gowns and the model's skyscraper hairstyles
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A bride with a latticework veil epitomises the French maestro's vision
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Over at Elie Saab, Michaelangelo and the play of light and shadow known as chiaroscuro were key inspirations
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Gaultier's caged birds of paradise wow haute couture audiences

3 JULY 2008
The Eiffel Tower was the starting point for Jean-Paul Gaultier's exuberant and imaginative haute couture collection. "It's all about construction and foundation," explained the eternal enfant terrible.

Every conceivable fabric had been pressed into the service of the French maestro's theme, with lace, cashmere, and even feathers and python-skin being fashioned into intricate 'cages'.

An elaborate silk taffeta ballgown, for example, came with a cape of pheasant plumes, while a 'bride' processed down the catwalk trailing a white and silver lattice veil.

The intention, though, was not to cage women, the designer emphasised. "My models are birds of paradise. They can remove the cages and fly," he insisted afterwards.

Elie Saab, a favourite with the Hollywood A-list and Middle Eastern princesses, was more muted in tone, if still gloriously romantic. His programme notes referenced Michaelangelo's painting Last Judgement and the artistic light/shadow play-technique of chiaroscuro. The result was a juxtaposition of dark and light blocks across flowing skirts in shades of teal, purple and faded lavender.

The final treat of the day was the first collection from Alexandra Facchinetti, the successor to iconic Milan designer Valentino, who recently retired. In a rare gesture of support for a rival, Giorgio Armani attended her haute couture debut for the label, sitting front row with actress Patricia Arquette.