The Best And Worst Of Paris Couture WeekS

Couture week, that four-day period when editors descend on Paris to venerate the fiction that enough people still buy $80,000 dresses to justify the expense and bother and fabulousness of the proceedings, is over. How'd everyone do?

John Galliano, at the helm of Christian Dior, went gardening. Enormous, brightly-colored skirts blossomed out of little bodices, the models' hair was styled to look like bulbs, and many wore Stephen Jones hats that looked like cones of cellophane. The general effect was of a parade of flowers, each turned upside down and ruffled up a bit.

The Best And Worst Of Paris Couture WeekS

This photo reminds me of that scene in Orlando where Tilda Swinton, new to her female body, picks her way through an obstacle course of furniture in cumbersome 18th Century paniers. I wonder, did they turn sideways for each other?

The Best And Worst Of Paris Couture WeekS

Jean-Paul Gaultier showed a mixed bag of a collection. Some looks worked well — neoprene leather just seems right in his hands — while others absolutely did not — monkey-fur should probably not be used for boob and butt appliqués by anyone. Dita Von Teese came on and did a strip-tease to reveal a corset whose boning looked like bones. Very Schiaparelli.

The Best And Worst Of Paris Couture WeekS

As did Dior, Gaultier showed a lot of outfits that incorporated silky fringe and long ostrich feathers.

The Best And Worst Of Paris Couture WeekS

Elie Saab's collection stuck to what the Lebanese designer does best: Eveningwear. It wasn't exactly groundbreaking, but there was lots to love if you dig pure, straight-up, 80s-style glamour.

The Best And Worst Of Paris Couture WeekS

Couldn't you just see J.Lo mincing down a red carpet in this sometime soon?

The Best And Worst Of Paris Couture WeekS

Stéphane Rolland's collection played with bright color, too.

The Best And Worst Of Paris Couture WeekS

And he showed a quick-minded capacity to play with proportions without seeming heavy or out-of-whack, something the more plodding Saab lacks.

The Best And Worst Of Paris Couture WeekS

Most beautiful and unusual, however, was Riccardo Tisci's collection for Givenchy. Comprised of just ten looks, presented to editors on dress forms (these pictures were released by Givenchy's PR team), and built from a limited palette, Tisci's clothes were gothic and gorgeous. One look had a skirt made of ombré ostrich feathers; another was worked in lace, which looked like a human skeleton.

The Best And Worst Of Paris Couture WeekS

This one was encrusted with ceramic bones.

The Best And Worst Of Paris Couture WeekS

Giorgio Armani tends to pick one idea and gnaw away at it throughout his couture collections, which tends to result in the (over-) extension of a given concept rather than its deepening. Last season it was the moon, and every dress had moon cut-outs and moon buttons; this season, the same literal-minded treatment is given the color amber, which mostly just looks like brown. Virtually every outfit comes with a large wooden pin or button, too. Still, the 1940s silhouette Armani was working from is flattering and versatile.

The Best And Worst Of Paris Couture WeekS

Valentino's couture show wasn't quite the neon-Technicolor nightmare of last season, but it was strangely proportioned, exceedingly girlish, and drowning in ruffles.

The Best And Worst Of Paris Couture WeekS

And then there was that model-in-a-cage thing.

The Best And Worst Of Paris Couture WeekS

Karl Lagerfeld showed a more colorful collection than usual. Too bad it was all based on a shapeless crop-top/long-skirt combination — "A look that," in the parlance of Tim Blanks, "combined elongation and bulk in a way that was intriguing, though likely to pose a challenge to many bodies."

The Best And Worst Of Paris Couture WeekS

Franck Sorbier's collection included several dresses made of paper.

The Best And Worst Of Paris Couture WeekS

The results are like something Lady Gaga would wear, but not quite weird enough. Katy Perry would love it.