The Best Of Haute Couture Week

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Nilina Mason-Campbell ran around Paris to get a fresh look at couture. Not the runway-shot, brand-manicured take we always get. The street-skulking, exhilarating flash-and-grab honesty of the perennial non-ticket-holder! (It's not our fault we don't know any PRs in Paris.)

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So, like, being on the guest list is so over-rated anyway when you can still get shots like this, of Polish model Monika "Jac" Jagaciak and Swede Frida Gustavsson outside the Gaultier show.

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The scene outside Jean-Paul Gaultier. The line for invitees stretched down the block, while on the opposite side of the street, a crowd formed to watch the proceedings.

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Some peace protesters took advantage of the built-in audience to stage this demonstration.

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Inside, Polish model Monika "Jac" Jagaciak carries a little numbered card as she walks down the runway, in the style of the old mannequins de cabine.

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There was a can-can dancer.

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And the collection was beautiful — in the most warrior-woman, 1940s mohawk, ruffled corset, mixed-up kind of way.

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Croatian model Kristina Salinovic after the show.

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Tunisian model Hana Ben Abdesslem poses for the street style photographers.

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Fashion editor Diane Pernet, dressed in her usual fashion.

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Swede Frida Gustavsson is 17, and has been modeling since 2008.

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Puerto Rican model Joan Smalls, the depositor of that cheek-kiss. Nilina says, "The photogs were going CRAZY over Frida and Jac and so after she exited the building, she ran to the back of the photographers' pack with her own camera and started screaming demands at Frida and Jac, who obliged with more poses. The photographers ate those up and then turned their attention to her."

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Australian model Andrej Pejic closed the show, dressed in a wedding gown. Pejic is famously androgynous — he is often compared to Karolina Kurkova, with whom he stars in Gaultier's current campaign — and the photographers addressed him as "mademoiselle" when they asked him to stop for a shot. Pejic obliged.

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An editor tries to make a call.

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Elie Saab showed a collection filled with his staple — really beautiful eveningwear, especially featuring sheer panels and overlays. He limited his colors to black, cream, mustard yellow, and bright red. Most of the dresses were styled with little ribbon belts.

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Any one of these dresses would look at home on the red carpet. Perhaps with a few minor adjustments to avoid, you know, celebrity crotch-exposure.

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John Galliano's René-Gruau-inspired Christian Dior collection, as we already know, was completely gorgeous. (And incredibly technically impressive.)

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Security outside the Dior venue. Here too, the line stretched down the block — and it was raining.

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Mademoiselle Agnes, with whom you should all be familiar, and Emmanuelle Alt, the newly named editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris.

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Checking invitations.

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Oh, look! It's that kid again.

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Someone left a Dior ticket out in the rain/I didn't think I could take it/But it was tempting to fake it/Then someone grabbed it, and I never had the opportunity again...

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The Valentino collection was of an ugliness so extraordinary, we shall speak no more of it here. (Kidding — the photos of the clothes just haven't hit Getty yet. But there were some real doozies all the same.) Also, Tara Reid, a person we have not really thought much about since maybe 2003, was there.

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Giorgio Armani's show was built around these Jetsons silhouettes. This is the dress of the future, and it always will be.

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Another thing that's weird? That dude in the yellow shirt is Pedro Almodóvar.

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Chanel's collection was heavy on the pastels. Karl Lagerfeld also gave his models pointy-toed, perfectly flat shoes. Duly noted.

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Personally, I thought some of the proportions were a little weird, but it was certainly much better than last season's Chanel couture.

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Kristen McMenamy closed the show.

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Unwrapping the runway at Christophe Josse.

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Models on the runway.

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A show-goer exits the venue. He was promptly shot by several street-style photographers.

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A photographer from Korean Style.com, Tommy Ton of the blog Jak & Jil, and a photographer from Grazia check to see if they've got the shot.

All photos by Nilina Mason-Campbell, unless otherwise noted

Earlier:
The Male Models Of Fashion Week: An Appreciation
Male Models Give Us Their Best Pick-Up Lines

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Related:
Nilina Mason-Campbell [Official Site]
^Hire her!

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DISCUSSION

I am just enjoying this so much. Great combination of inside/outside shots. Thanks for letting me sit here in my pjs and be there vicariously and imagine Andrej in one of those Elie Saab dresses.