A soft focus floral print like an Impressionist painting, perhaps by Claude Monet of his water garden at Giverny, set the mood at Elie Saab s summer couture show on Wednesday.
The Lebanese designer s fresh-faced models with flowing blonde hair looked like ingenues in their romantic ballgowns and babydoll cocktail frocks.
Slender bodices hugged the torso, giving way to clouds of tulle and silk chiffon.
A favorite silhouette was a criss-cross pleated bustier, with self-covered buttons in the small of the back adding an erogenous touch, over a swishy floor-sweeping skirt.
Lots of flesh was on display with gowns split to the thigh and plunging V-necklines. Shoulders were bare unless covered with diminutive cap sleeves or little fringed capes or spindly jeweled straps.
Fragile evening frocks had top layers of sheer tulle or lace, sprinkled with embroidered flowers, or appliquéd with organza petals or fluffy feathers.
Bodices dripped with beads, crystals and pearls or twinkled with rhinestones or silvery sequins.
Saab, like Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel earlier this week, championed pastels for next spring and summer, giving pride of place to powder pink, lilac, primrose, almond green and flesh-tones.
For Frank Sorbier, inspired by tragic heroines from Racine and Shakespeare to Euripides, the natural choice was black.
The French couturier unveiled his collection of 14 pieces at Sotheby s Paris headquarters, in his first catwalk presentation for some seasons.
Without the resources of the major houses, Sorbier s creations are labors of love as well as examples of the exquisite workmanship unique to couture.
For a bra-top and mermaid skirt, topped by a coat, a length of Lyons lace was cut up by hand and sewn into an entirely new design, then over-embroidered with waxed thread.
A bustier-dress with a flounced skirt used up more than 190 meters of silk chiffon, which was compressed using a technique invented by Sorbier, one of the house s trademarks.
A sheath dress and stole was assembled by hand from more than 650 tiny geometric shapes covered in shantung silk shot with lurex.
A long gown and cape constructed from layers of organza, outlined in black raffia, caught the light like stained glass window.
Martin Margiela is a past master at deconstruction and recycling. For his artisanal line of 11 pieces for next season he cut up vintage evening and cocktail wear
The skirts of a 1950s lace and voile dress morphed into a single-ruffled sleeve on a body suit, while a long ballgown is reworked upside down into a short evening dress, with its bustier top forming a pleated mini-skirt.
Three cocktail frocks in shot taffeta are ingeniously melded into an evening jacket: one of the originals ends up as an extra long sleeve, while the other two make up the front.