For most serious admirers of fashion, there inevitably comes a dispiriting realization that–short of some miraculous change in financial circumstances–one is likely never, ever, going to own or even try on one of the exquisite confections shown on runways twice a year.

But fashion is built on fantasy, and that’s why we continue to be fascinated by a section of the industry with a rapidly dwindling client base. With that in mind, here are a few particularly inspired pieces from the 2009 fall couture collections now showing in Paris.

Karl Lagerfeld’s designs for Chanel were noticeably more subdued than in days past, and some of the dresses seemed to be moving into Badgley Mischka territory, with their embroidery and encrusting. But I still liked the Renaissance-meets-1930s vibe of some of the gowns. Also, watch for a resurgence of lace tights.



The house of Lacroix may be in bankruptcy, but that has not stopped the designer from imbuing his work with the same spritely joie de vivre as ever, here rendered with total mastery of the play between textures.


The traditional end-of-show wedding dress was the one piece showing Lacroix’s love of bright color (he mostly used blues and blacks) and brought to mind a medieval triptych of a saint.


John Galliano applied his madcap sensibility to the 40s and 50s. His collection for Christian Dior resembled a Technicolor version of The Women (which is actually from 1939, but whatever).