Squaring Off in Paris

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Karl Prouse / Catwalking / Getty

Giorgio Armani Autumn Winter 2007 couture show, Paris

Giorgio Armani desribed his fall 2007 Prive collection as more aggressive. "The world has changed even for the very rich," he said at a press conference before his show here on Wednesday night. "These clothes are for a woman who wants to express herself more aggressively with forms and silhouettes that are unusual." Certainly, many of the egg-shaped ballgowns that made up the finale of the show were unusual for Armani and the flashes of fuchsia and lime green throughout were new for the designer best known as the king of beige, but the razor-sharp tailoring on tiny double-breasted jackets with pagoda-square shoulders was classic Armani. If he came into the French couture arena several seasons ago with a bit off timidity, now he's strutting his stuff — which is to say extremely precise tailoring. One couldn't help but think that the tiny proportions and sharp shape of the jackets were inspired by the slender frame of actress Cate Blanchett, who was seated in the front row.

Other silhouettes, including multi-colored feathered boleros and dramatic black evening gowns finished off with a graphic swoosh of lime satin, had a rock and roll feeling that Armani said was indiretly inspired by David Bowie. Surely some of the sharp black tuxedos with bright satin shirts and topped off by jeweled trilby hats will look right at the Spice Girls' reunion next winter.

Radical shape, especially the squared off kind, seems to be a theme at the couture shows this season. Bruno Frissoni, the affable shoe designer who also heads up the creative direction of the house of Roger Vivier, presented a small collection of couture shoes and bags in his first-floor office on the Faubourg St.-Honore. The most stunning pair was called "Boxes" and consisted of black and gold lacquered wooden boxes stacked on top of each other to form a heel and a sole. "It's like placing your foot on a console," Frissoni said. Most of the collection, which also included clutch bags and satin stilettos embroidered by the famous French embroiderer Francois Lesage, will sell for upwards of $10,000 a piece — a price point that does turn accessories into mini works of art. Indeed, the "Boxes" shoes were not quite right when they came out of the atelier so Frissoni asked Lesage to paint them by hand. Couture is a metier of precision, after all.