PARIS - The red-carpet glamor of haute couture — with its dripping paillettes, glistening silks and exorbitant price tag — makes it a natural bedfellow for A-list actresses the world over.
The spring-summer season 2013 is certainly no exception, with Tuesday, the second day of couture week, attracting a throng of top stars, old and young — as it has for decades.
"Kill Bill" star Uma Thuman likes Armani couture so much that she flew in hundreds of miles especially to catch the 15-minute show.
"He's one of the few designers who's been dressing Hollywood actresses since the beginning," said Thurman of the Italian fashion legend, who held a typically sumptuous couture display of luxurious silks, with rhinestones, jet and crystal.
Chanel also is a celebrity mainstay — with Karl Lagerfeld's shimmering woven silks and braided tulles this season attracting Diane Kruger, Clemence Poesy and perhaps one of couture's youngest fans, 16-year-old Academy Award nominee Hailee Steinfeld.
But it's not all pretty. Kim Kardashian's tardy entrance at Stephane Rolland's show caused delays.
Haute couture is an artisan-based method of making clothes that dates back more than 150 years. The very expensive garments, shown in collections only in Paris twice a year, are bought by a core group of no more than 100 rich women around the world.
One palace, 90 oak trees and more than 3,000 bushes is the kind of decadence that spells only one thing: Chanel haute couture.
The natural landscape framed a show that put a contemporary, floral spin on the dropped shoulders of the 19th century France's Second Empire.
Revelers shivered as they entered near-freezing glen inside Paris Grand Palais. But for the upbeat designer Karl Lagerfeld, the season was clearly one of optimism.
"It's not cold, it's just fresh. Spring is in the air," he said from the bushes after the show.
Models with 19th century-style feathers cascading from their hair sported 69 looks in silk, lace and tulle. Dropped-square shoulders defined the esthetic.
With Chanel, there is always more than meets the eye. Here, that was found in the tweed — or the lack of it. All the skirt suits that resembled tweed were, in fact, fastidiously woven silk ribbons.
Only a few living designers can execute a couture show where almost every look glistens as much with classic timelessness as it does with innovation.
Giorgio Armani, 78, is one of them.
The proof was in Tuesday's Armani Prive collection: a finely balanced affair contrasting the classic with the exotic.
In 54 looks, the designer tastefully combined luxurious silk materials —such as Mikado silks, clean satins, organzas and silk jacquards — alongside Africa-style patterns, geometric zigzags and bold colour such as saffron yellow, ruby red and orange.
A huge lightning bolt down the catwalk added to the eclectic energy coming from ethnic-style jewelry, art deco hats and mysterious wands.
The statement was loud and clear: this season it was about intensity.
Stephane Rolland finally hit the right esthetic for perfecting his take on pure architectural couture styles.
Accompanied by toga-wearing violinists, rich hourglass gowns flowed by in white silk and diaphanous white organza. Some looks came in black.
Sheer backs and see-through silk blocks on legs added touches of sensuality — proof why Rolland's a favourite with stars such as Kim Kardashian, who watched from the front row.
Rolland cited the Louvre's sculptural masterpiece the "Winged Victory of Samothrace" as a reference.
Indeed, windswept collars in the show that billowed from busts evoked Grecian drama.
The process behind the clothes in haute couture is often as interesting as the garments themselves. Rolland used a decorative technique of baking chiffon bubbles — literally in a furnace.
Gustavo Lins continued his signature masculine-feminine esthetic in his couture, which this season had a 1980s edge.
Again, the Brazilian designer put men on the catwalk alongside female models, who sometimes wore parts of a male wardrobe, like leather coats, fur waistcoasts and satin leather jackets.
Loose silhouettes outnumbered the more architectural pieces, with gathered 1980s-style high waists.
Not all the looks gelled together, but some great draped pieces that hit the high notes of the show.
One purple column dress with a loose, draped silk swirl cut a beautiful and unusual silhouette.
And some black and turquoise gowns had a feel of draping master Madame Gres.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP