Haute Couture Evolves

FRANÇOIS MORI/AP

Oscar de la Renta has designed for Pierre Balmain for a decade. Starting this fall he is to spend more time on his own collection

Haute-couture week used to be fashion's time-out. The pace was leisurely, leaving lots of opportunities for the ladies who lunch to get plenty to eat. The clothes were elegant, the kind of things one wears to the Paris Ritz, darling. The salons were small and intimate, the better to see the craftsmanship. But the gradual rotation of the old guard (out last season, Yves Saint Laurent; out this season, Oscar de la Renta at the house of Pierre Balmain) to the new (first John Galliano at Christian Dior, most recently Julien Macdonald at Givenchy) has transformed the week to one of...

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