Dreamy Couture in Paris

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Francois Guillot / AFP / Getty

Linda Evangelista models a creation at the Paris Dior show, July 2007

"I had a dream of everything in profile," said Karl Lagerfeld, sitting in his Chanel couture studio on the top floor of the famous French house's rue Cambon headquarters. "It's the most becoming proportion, the tight high bodice and a floating back." The ethereal looking creatures that stepped gingerly across the graveled path of the St. Cloud gardens Tuesday, where Chanel showed under a cloud of rain, were indeed dreamlike. They had tweed hoods to match their boxy tweed suits and over-the-knee leather boots to add a futuristic touch — not to mention a little shelter from the storm here.

The weather has not been so great for the opening of the fall 2007 haute couture collections. Where usually it is stifling hot, this week so far has been damp and cold — a problem for the houses of Chanel and Dior both of which chose to show in splendid semi-outdoor locations, the latter at the Orangerie of Versailles.

But soggy climes certainly have not dampened soaring couture fantasies. John Galliano gave the house of Dior a rocking 60th anniversary salute with an over-the-top high drama collection that included 45 supermodels, each decked out as a vision of an artist who had somehow touched Christian Dior's life and spirit. Linda Evangelista in an evocative deep wine taffeta dress a la Caravaggio. Naomi Campbell inspired by Alma-Tadema. There was a pink confection that looked right out of a Fragonard, Amber Valetta in pale blue, a portrait of Renoir. Each dress more elaborate and evocative than the first. Galliano called it a Bal des Artistes, in keeping with Dior's great love of art and his friendships with artists like Jean Cocteau. For Galliano, it was also a celebration of his 10 years at Dior and a tribute to his great friend and colleague at Dior, Steven Robinson, who passed away earlier this spring.