A Standing O for Lacroix

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Pierre Verdy / AFP / Getty

Christian Lacroix's Fall/Winter 2007-08 Haute Couture collection show July 3, 2007, in Paris.

Haute couturiers get a lot of mileage out of wedding dresses, especially Christian Lacroix. The designer celebrated his 20th year in business Tuesday with a concise and painterly collection that included a patchworked bridal dress that harkened back to Lacroix's rustic Southern roots and a short embroidered coat inspired by Watteau. Although the palette was predominantly black, Lacroix wowed the crowd with some pretty amazing color combinations — the kind that only he can get away with in an haute couture collection. My favorite was a long draped chiffon dress shaded in plum, praline, and lime and topped off by violet fur sleeves. Another Lacroix signature — the mixing of rough and fine materials — appeared early on in the show in the form of an oxblood red dyed fox and goatskin coat worn over a slinky black cocktail dress. He definitely deserved the standing ovation.

Feathers seem to have replaced fur on most couture runways here this week. At a press conference this morning, Giorgio Armani explained that although he has used fur in his collections in the past, the Prive show he will present tonight at the Theatre de Chaillot will not have any fur. "I spoke with the people from PETA," he explained, "and they showed me some materials that convinced me not to use fur." So instead he has whipped up some pretty jazzy feathered boleros that are inspired by the rock music of David Bowie.

Back on the marriage track: Alber Elbaz introduced a small collection of Lanvin bridal dresses earlier in the week. They're not haute couture, rather the opposite. "Either you start with a dream and make it commercial, or you start with a need and then make it a dream," he explained. And, according to Elbaz, what a modern bride needs is an off-the-rack wedding dress — a short beaded tunic perhaps — that they can wear on the beach in Bali when they tie the knot. Elbaz has mastered the look of French nonchalence at Lanvin without even doing couture collections.