Jean Paul Gaultier puts on Rajasthani couture extravaganza

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Models sported heavy kohl-lined eyes, beehive hair and towering platforms for the show attended by veteran French actress and Gaultier regular Catherine Deneuve.

The eastern Indian state’s influence was clearly visible in a string of bright and extravagantly embroidered looks including an orange patchwork halter neck dress worn with flowing pink shawl and a selection of swirling multi-tiered skirts.

Other looks standing out included a tight-fitting black and silver off the shoulder evening dress that flared from just above the knee and a tiny pale-coloured mini dress with sheer pleated skirt and Gaultier’s iconic conical bra, much worn by Madonna.

For the finale, Frenchman Gaultier gave full rein to his Rajasthani fantasy with a vast full-skirted embroidered wedding dress perfect for the dramatic denouement of any Bollywood extravaganza.

Chinese-born French designer Yiqing Yin, meanwhile, sent out an avant-garde collection described as developing her thoughts about how time makes “things grow and decompose, and about ties that bind and break”.

The enigmatic young designer, one of 11 taking part in the couture shows as invitees, certainly avoided playing it safe with necklines that plunged to the waist and one top that was completely transparent save a few sequins.

“Clothes fit the body like a second skin, as if they come from the body itself. Flesh and fabric entwine, embroideries with crystals and beads appear as precious growth from the skin, revealing a new reality,” the house said.

Picking up the designer’s focus on the symbolism of thread, models faces were partially obscured by long white strands.

A floaty sheer pale pink dress was draped vertically in red thread while white thread covered a high-necked black robe in an irregular skeleton-like horizontal pattern.

Rather more wearable designs included a long grey jacket with layers of fabric to one side forming a wave-shaped pattern, and a long blue one-sleeved dress slashed to the thigh.

For the piece de resistance, however, Yiqing Yin took the thread theme to an extreme with the long white strands trailing from hoops creating a six-foot (1.8-metre) wide head-to-toe structure almost completely concealing the model.

Earlier, Lebanese designer Elie Saab went for a more conventional look, with a succession of long, often sheer, dresses embroidered with floral motifs, sequins and lace petals to produce what the designer called a “fragile elegance”.

Saab sought to explore “degrees of transparency”, the house said, in a show attended by Swedish Little Dragon singer Yukimi Nagano and US burlesque performer Dita Von Teese.

Catering to no more than 200 of the world’s richest women, the label “haute couture” is protected in France, awarded based on strict criteria such as the amount of work carried out by hand and in-house.

Four days of spring-summer 2013 haute couture shows are due to wrap up on Thursday.

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