Black capes over leopard-skin, zippers and belts slung around the thighs, Givenchy struck a dark, sensuous note in Paris Sunday with a summer look that seemed plucked from Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut."
Stepping out into a courtyard, the first model wore a cropped white jacket with a long tail falling down the back, over a black skirt and transparent petticoat that stretched down to thick, dizzying heels.
Singers Lily Allen and Courtney Love, Justin Timberlake and Liv Tyler were among the famous faces who watched as designer Riccardo Tisci sent out organza tops secured at the back with leather straps that hinted at bondage gear.
Faces were powdered white with darkened lips, the hair stern and short, or gathered on each side of the face amd tipped with small plaits.
Golden zippers ran all over a sleeveless black jacket, above sleek pants with a copper belt hooked at the top of the thighs. A few pieces in the palest pink provided a brief distraction, but the show returned swiftly to a darker register, with a whole series in leopard-skin.
Short skirts were layered over pants - then covered over by long petticoats in see-thru fabric or fish-net. A tight, starched blouse like a fencer's suit had a transparent back, while a thick, breastplate-like piece flowed into a cape sweeping down the back.
For his men's collection in June, Tisci also built around black, his trademark colour, and leopard-skin, dressing models in Mexican-wrestler style leather masks with grids for the eyes and mouth.
But the designer broke with the gothic tone of his spring/summer line for 2011, unveiled mid-way through Paris' marathon ready-to-wear shows, stepping out to salute the crowd in a bright blue-checked shirt.
A world apart, John Galliano chose a 1920s artist's muse as inspiration for his luxuriant new summer look.
Janet Jackson took a front-row seat to watch the models step out in a riot of hats, gypsy scarves and fur collars, each outfit intended to be as singular as a portrait said the British designer.
Models in over-the-top make-up twirled in light, flounced dresses cut from fragile, transparent fabrics. A skirt was hemmed with ostrich feathers or Spanish shawl fringes, while ultra-wide pants were layered with black tulle, and trenches were cut from translucent grey organza that left the structure and seams on full display.
Galliano took his inspiration from Maria Lani, muse to some of the greatest artists of her day including Amedeo Modigliani, whose portrait adorned the invite to the show.
There were pink and orange - everywhere this season - but also butterfly motifs on a frou-frou bustier dress or see-thru jacket.
At sundown, Galliano's woman stepped out in crystal- and gold-encrusted gowns, mostly white, displaying an artisan's touch unusual for a ready-to-wear collection, however luxurious.
Galliano says he was inspired for evening wear by Constantin Brancusi's metal sculptures. The kinship was far from obvious, but the result was delicate, feminine, with laser-sharp tailoring, and terribly desirable.
Earlier, Celine set Paris abuzz with a summer look that was all butter-soft leather, fluid cuts and sober sophistication. Cheers of delight rang out as flavour-of-the-moment designer Phoebe Philo unveiled her third collection for the label.
Caramel leather, desert-hooded weaves and elegant, flowing pants in ivory silk, with navy and sharp green bands lining the waist and side like a tuxedo: at each new piece, the room held its breath in admiration.
The magic was in the details, like a simple white jacket in starched cotton that left the back bare and fastened with a plain leather strap, or a white cotton blouse with a deep pink leather collar. High-waisted leather skirts just covered the knee, curling around the hips to end in a gentle diagonal panel in the small of the back.
A sleeveless top in butter-soft maroon leather was paired with roomy trousers in vivid blue, while a long cotton damask tunic like a sleeveless kimono was split on either side of the body.
A Moroccan flavour came from a green silk top with geometric motifs, hemmed with a band of orange, while a fluid, bare-armed navy dress robe plunged to a deep V shape at front an back - while its modest, sister piece offered long sleeves and demure neckline.