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PARIS, March 3, 2006 - The essence of Christian Lacroix is undeniably haute couture, and distilling all the notes of his perfume into Ready-to-Wear without watering down the formula is an arduous task. Lacroix himself chose not to show a Ready-to-Wear collection for four seasons, back when his house was owned by LVMH. At Friday afternoon's presentation, he did his honest best.

Before an enormous screen of LED lights that played, among other things, scenes of a bull fight, he sent out a series of black dresses strewn with black jet beads and embellished with rich embroidery derived from bands of garnet-colored crystal.

It would be hard not to love the mink collard lamé coat over a matching mini-dress with crystal embroidery or the bolero of slivered mink. The furs were fantastic.

Color burst out in scarlet with black lace, and in a series of luscious damask print silk.

'Pavane', the title of the collection, can't help but conjure up Ravel's Pavane for a Dead Princess, and oddly enough, a strange note of melancholy hovered faintly but persistently overhead.

The men's wear presented - largely velour and pinstripe suits - seemed like an afterthought.


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