For day three of the spring 2011 couture shows from Paris, Elie Saab created ooh-and-aah worthy confections that were just aching for a little red carpet, Jean Paul Gaultier rabble-roused with a punk-meets-Pigalle-inspired show, and the house of Valentino presented moody Victorian-era separates.


Elie Saab
Hollywood favorite Elie Saab showed a collection that overflowed with romance. There were tattered fabric blossoms appliqued over silk layers, clavicles and décollatage covered in sheer netting, and silhouettes cinched by fitted bodices. The whole package with the corsetry and long draped skirts felt very Victorian, but occasionally less demure when thigh-high splits came into play.

Saab focused on earthy shades of dusty rose, lilac, crimson, spring green, and dove gray. Looks were monotone, and grouped by color--like a super sophisticated swatch palette. The overall effect was clean and allowed the delicate details - embroidery, beading, sheer layers, lace - that are the cornerstone of haute couteriers to be the rightful focus.

Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho, WireImage | Nathalie Lagneau, Catwalking / Getty Images | Tony Barson, WireImage

Jean Paul Gaultier
The Punk-inspired couture at Gaultier was more new world than old, but the designer made a nod to the yesteryears of the medium. His mohawked mannequins each carried a card with a calligraphy number. (We wonder which ones Catherine Deneuve jotted down from the front row.)

There were black chokers around the neck (as there were at Chanel--trend alert!), trench coats and some S&M (it's a Gaultier show after all). The most fetching looks were black with white ruffles and lace under heavy skirts.

The designer has always celebrated diversity and this time it included a catwalk from Andrej Pejic, the androgynous Bosnian male model who is currently starring in Gaultier's ad campaign. (Pejic was as beautiful as his female companions when closed the show in sheer tiered ruffle dress, fishnets and an ample mohawk adorned with tulle.)

Pierre Verdy, AFP / Getty Images

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli showed a somber, at times monastic, couture collection for Valentino. There were a few themes which ran throughout: a muted palette (save the house's signature red), transparency, soft '70s references, pleats, long ruffled sleeves, plaited hair and butterfly chokers. The butterflies spoke to the delicacy of the dresses--which felt almost ephemeral.

This is not for Valentino Garavani's traditionally more flashy customer, but one who can embrace a more quiet, soft, and at times sculptural glamour. The duo have established their own vocabulary at this point. This includes the grays, nudes, taupes, and mauves which have become such big trends elsewhere. Their artful ruffles are simulataneously restrained and fanciful. "Subversive elegance," is how the duo described it and we couldn't agree more.

Like the elegance of couture? Make sure to get the scoop on the season's beauty trends.