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When Gaytten came to take his bow, he winked, perhaps because he knew he had produced some solid couture.

“I could show you a picture of every single one of those dresses from the 1950s. They were all copied. But it worked, it really did,” said British fashion writer Colin McDowell.

It-girl of the moment, Olivia Palermo, summed it up: “Sometimes it’s good to go back to basics.”


Iris Van Herpen’s second haute couture show wrapped up a frenzied day of spring-summer collections with clothes that dipped into a darkly aquatic world, apparently inspired by “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

“Normal rules don’t apply” is one of the slogans of haute couture’s new enfant terrible, a 27-year-old Dutch designer. Even the invitations she sent stick out from the rest: a transluscent square of plastic with a crustacean-inspired etching.

As two gothic doors opened to dramatic music, a pearl sheath dress emerged from the night at Monday’s show and grew lightweight octopus tentacles made of glass that enveloped its female host. As if this weren’t enough, the model had to struggle against killer platforms _ boney vertical daggers, instead of heels.

All the pieces were highly architectural, often with accentuated shoulders and hips in metallic shades of aubergine and gray, as well as pearl.

One piece, a cape-dress, looked like a brooding stingray carcass given life by an intricate weaving of shimmering silk and metal fiber. At this point the perhaps puzzled spectators were struck with awe.

Haute couture is often a spiky affair, but white Plexiglas fangs poking out of a cap-sleeved mini-dress saw this taken to the next level. The message was clear: You can look but don’t touch.

The only downside was the slightly repetitive use of the sheath silhouette, only rarely punctuated by a longer number.

Despite her youth and newcomer status, Van Herpen has made a name for herself in Paris.

“I just lead with intuition,” the designer said backstage. “It’s positive being new, as I can go wherever I want with total freedom.”

Tuesday’s haute couture collections include Chanel, Giorgio Armani Prive and Givenchy.