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Paris Couture Day 3
Valentino, Gaultier, Saab shimmer in couture

THOMAS ADAMSON
The Associated Press
Modified: January 25, 2013 at 2:48 pm •  Published: January 25, 2013
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photo - A model wears a creation by Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab for his Spring Summer 2013 Haute Couture fashion collection, presented in Paris, Wednesday, Jan.23, 2013. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
A model wears a creation by Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab for his Spring Summer 2013 Haute Couture fashion collection, presented in Paris, Wednesday, Jan.23, 2013. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

"This year we wanted to surprise," said Piccioli. "Not only everyone else, but ourselves first."

And they did.

JEAN PAUL GAULTIER

Did the Pondicherry landscape in "Life of Pi" inspire Jean Paul Gaultier's latest Indian-themed collection?

Whatever the reason, the one shoulder sari-styles, scarves and silk "shalwar" pants all made for a fun, endearing display. Guests even chuckled to Edith Piaf's "La vie en rose" in Hindi.

There were some vibrant East-meets-West looks. One European Spencer jacket came in paprika-colored shantung with a skirt, over a cumin-colored muslin dress — evoking Indian-style layering. Still, the exuberance translated a little too much into the clothes.

Gaucho-style fringing mixed with Madonna-style "Blonde Ambition" corsets, gypsy detailing, seventies disco, and even a look from the 1950s. Only a master like Gaultier can pull off something this eclectic, but sometimes, even for him, too many spices can spoil the couture broth.

ELIE SAAB

Elie Saab's couture never ventures far beyond his safe signature: fitted high-waists and long feminine gowns in powdery sumptuous silk that are always well-cut.

There were no surprises here.

This season's theme, "an ode to delicateness," saw the Lebanese-born designer explore transparencies in lace and tulle in ivory, pink and light blue.

There is always something of the slightly twee fairy story princess that infiltrates Saab's collections. Here, this was done more creatively in otherworldly black crinolines in the latter part of the show.

Instead of conjuring up Snow White, they had a great feel of a glamorous wicked witch.