Fashion: Is Paris Burning?

For the first time since Courrèges lifted hemlines two years ago — thus ushering in the yé-yé look and youth cult that nearly blew haute couture as well as skirts sky-high — there was news aplenty last week from the big high-fashion houses of Paris. Out to prove that yé-yé is only soso, 36 top designers presented new collections for spring and summer, striking out in all sorts of new directions.

Behind the scenes, there was a sense of crisis. Increasingly, big dress designers are realizing that the days when couturiers could focus...

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