Dior impresses and Versace dazzles in couture

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The clothes were pure Grecian drama. A yellow mini-dress with laser-cut silk satin sparkled with the help of Swarovski crystals.

The summer palette was served up in silvers, oranges and acid green. One goddess pearl gray evening gown made in Chantilly lace dazzled as the music climaxed with an aria from Tosca, sung by Greek legend Maria Callas.

Versace classics were revisited and given an Aphrodite-like twist, such as a leather biker jacket and sexy shorts with gold metallic gussets.

Gasps of delight came from the crowd, which included U.S. and French Vogue editors Anna Wintour and Emanuelle Alt as well as actresses Cameron Diaz and Diane Kruger.

“I loved it. It was so sexy, so typically Versace. I’m looking myself to see if I can get one,” Kruger said after the show.

That means fashionistas can look for one of the numbers on a red carpet in the not-too-distant future.

CHRISTIAN DIOR

Christian Dior revamped its signature New Look for its 2012 spring-summer haute couture collection, with stand-in designer Bill Gaytten playing it safe following last season’s panning.

Monday’s show got started fashionably late _ but Dior is tardy in more ways than one. The front row was abuzz over Dior’s ongoing silence on the appointment of a new creative director.

Would it be Raf Simons, artistic director of Jil Sander? Or perhaps French designer Haider Ackermann?

But the fashionistas were quickly jolted back into focus as floaty silk crepe silhouettes with nipped waists _ in shades of beige, aubergine, red, black and white _ filed through the sumptuous salons of the couturier on the Avenue Montaigne.

Gaytten had clearly hit on the house’s bread-and-butter pieces, which go back to the 1947 collection that introduced fashion to a new ladylike look that thrived through the next decade and was copied many times over. It was a back-to-basics move following his fall-winter couture flop. Despite its predictability, the collection somehow worked, perhaps by dint of its subtlety and textural detail.

A classic A-line bar suit was given a light touch in ultra-feminine sheer silk with a full skirt, giving the show an ethereal, otherworldly feel.

Black silk dresses were painstakingly embroidered with delicate beads, followed by knee-length skirts featuring long knife-pleats that fluttered like butterfly wings. One model looked so weightless in cascading chiffon she might have taken off in flight had she walked just a bit faster.

The piece de resistance came near the end: a floor-length ballgown with a full black-and-white tulle skirt that brushed teasingly past photographers.

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