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PARIS, March 1, 2006 - Moments before the Jean Louis Scherrer show began, a little girl brushed aside paparazzi to hold up her own cell phone, focusing it on an aging French star. The star, whose name meant nothing to me, was obviously of interest, so It would seem that an affair with limelight starts early and ends late.

Stéphane Rolland certainly seems to think so, judging from the clothes he sent down the catwalk on Wednesday morning - Ash Wednesday to be precise. Far from striking a note of penitence, they were chock full of the opulence of lamé, the unctuousness of mink, and the legerity of sprinkling of gold upon a transparent top wrapped around the breasts and then tossed back to form a billowing cape. Elsewhere, voluptuous gowns and retro-looking suits combined to create a not-quite-Valentino affectation.

One fox trimmed coat looked more convincing than any piece shown in former times under the appellation "haute couture". Scherrer may be in Ready-to-Wear only these days, but the basic formula hasn't changed.


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