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At Christian Lacroix, High Art Is Reborn

By Timothy Hagy, Paris Editor

PARIS, January 24, 2006 - The winter sun fell softly into night, a breath-freezing arctic cold one, as Christian Lacroix presented his 38th collection of haute couture late on Tuesday. Looking over the forty pieces sent down a runway of golden dust, the indelible print of Lacroix was visible most everywhere: in the graceful draping of a tail coat, in an embroidered jacket glittering in eighteenth century brilliance, in the froth of ostrich feathers that circled the arms and neckline of a gossamer sheer jacket, in the embroidery of a gown that sparkled like icicles.

As models stepped out from a backdrop, a landscape that hearkened back to ancient Rome, you got the sense of modern art being reborn from the ruins. And perhaps that is where couture is in this day and time - an art-form on the verge of extinction that somehow continues to flower each season in Paris, struggling through the cold and ice to live on.

Elsewhere, mounds of contemporary-print chiffon were layered to form a skirt, a dress of gold-embroidered ecru crepeline incorporated a skirt held by a garland of flowers, a bustier was splashed with color like a freshly painted canvas, and the wedding dress, a concoction of snow-white tulle and lace, integrated sprays of pale roses.

The standing ovation that followed the show seemed to catch Lacroix by surprise, as he emerged hesitantly from backstage. “This collection is a kind of Renaissance,” he said. Now in the second year of ownership by the US-based Falic group, Lacroix couture continues to set the standard for the art form.

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