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Designers evoke old world and new

| Thursday, July 4, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

“Fashion is the only thing that can travel ... from the old world to the new,” proclaimed Karl Lagerfeld. And on the second day of haute couture shows, Chanel's showman couturier made his point with aplomb: Standing next to pop star Rihanna, he delivered the words from the stage of an old, decayed opera house.

As ever, the master designer stole the show, with the most impressive couture display. His creations glittered in dramatic contrast with the broken-down theater, re-created inside Paris' Grand Palais. Faded, grimy curtains, old wooden stalls and some classic clothing styles mixed alongside futuristic streaks of silver embroideries and cosmic-looking hats.

Haute couture itself dates back over 150 years and is steeped in history. But the hurdle for designers is to keep the looks fresh while also keeping the artisan-based method of making clothes alive and relevant.

Chanel

The setting saw Lagerfeld carry off a dark, expressionist-tinged fall-winter 2013 collection.

A series of A-line skirt suit-styles were twinned with Grace Jones-style space-age hair. Intergalactic square hats attached at the back of the head seemed to float like a geometric halo, in a great anachronism.

The 67 very wearable looks had some notable features, such as wide, often shiny, belt bands and mosaic patterns. Instead of boots, Lagerfeld put legs inside “stocking shoes,” attached up the leg with garterlike lingerie.

Armani Prive

Giorgio Armani seemed to strip the body bare in a classic couture collection titled “Nude.”

The checkered runway in pearly hues of yellow, pink and beige set the mood for the nude-tone musings for fall-winter 2013. The colors recurred on the 52 creations, all of which were constructed with a delicate femininity. The Armani Prive show made its statement in skin-color fine organzas, lace and tulles, which exposed much skin.

Stephane Rolland

The Spanish royal court's master painter Diego Velazquez was one of the inspirations behind this collection. Thirty-three creations saw Rolland using black, flowing capes to get this regal message across, as well as hanging lengths of rippling silks that conjured up the idea of nobility or time-old queenliness through the material's simple, natural luxury.

Though the collection was not groundbreaking, it confirms that the normally glitzy and glam designer, who's known for dressing red-carpet celebrities, is moving in a welcome, more elegant direction.

Thomas Adamson is an AP fashion writer.

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