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Five highlights from Paris haute couture fashion week

As Paris haute couture week ends Thursday, we look at the five things we learned from the elite fashion extravaganza:

– All hail Galliano –

Genius is a word that gets thrown around in fashion like confetti at a wedding, but many who witnessed John Galliano’s two shows for Margiela over the past 12 days believed that in his case the feathered hat fits.

The British designer may never live down the notorious drunken anti-Semitic rant that cost him his job at Dior in 2011.

Yet fashion would be far less fantastical without him.

His haute couture collection using transformative fabrics which look completely different to the naked eye than through the lens of smartphone, was not just inspired use of cutting-edge tech, but deft commentary on seeing at the world through the lens of Instagram.

– Karl’s beard –

Even geniuses make mistakes. Just ask Karl Lagerfeld who is no doubt stroking his chin over whether he will persist with his new wispy white beard. Reaction to the Kaiser’s first major change in image in two decades was generally negative — and almost drowned out his very girly Chanel show. Vogue’s legendary critic Suzy Menkes did her best to soften the blow by referring to the growth as “an exciting facial accessory”.

– Be careful who you quote –

Dior under Maria Grazia Chiuri loves nothing better than a good slogan. She began her reign at the fabled label with her “We should all be feminists” T-shirt and by plastering “Christian Dior J’adore” on just about everything, from bras to sandal straps.

This week she wrote lines from Andre Breton’s “Surrealist Manifesto” across her models’ collar bones as part of a homage to Italian artist and proto-feminist Leonor Fini.

Which was unfortunate, as critics quickly pointed out, because Breton was a notorious misogynist who Fini abhorred for writing that “the problem of woman is the most marvellous and disturbing problem in all the world”.

– Don’t say it with flowers –

Never write a note using the N-word and send it to someone who puts their entire life on Instagram. The Russian designer Ulyana Sergeenko learned that the hard way this week when she sent flowers to her friend the Moscow socialite Miroslava Duma when she arrived in Paris for the shows. Both women insisted it was meant as a term of endearment between friends, but the fashion world was not in a forgiving mood.

– Life is black and white –

While catwalks are more and more gender fluid with co-ed shows and androgynous and trans models, they could not have been more binary when it came to colour this week.

Black and white dominated from John Paul Gaultier’s two-tone tribute to Pierre Cardin to Dior’s surrealist checkerboards and Clare Waight Keller’s much-praised debut at Givenchy.

That couture fixture the femme fatale cut a black and silver swathe through the Azzaro, Alexandre Vaultier and Galia Lahav collections, with shoulders exaggerated 1980s-style to emphasise killer glamour.

Chanel and Valentino swam against the austere tide with a sweetshop assortment of sugary pinks and greens, while Viktor & Rolf also went for a bolder palette, giving their quirky creations an extra sheen by making the complete collection in satin duchesse.

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